Social games and social objects are now reaching into real life brick and mortar commerce with the introduction of the Facebook gift card into traget earlier this month. This week, Facebook is running Facebook Credits gift card advertising above third-party applications on canvas pages.
Target will be the first retailer to sell Facebook Credits in its stores come Sunday. The Facebook Credits gift cards will be available in $15, $25 and $50 denominations at all 1,750 Target locations and at Target.com.
The cards will soon make their way to two or three additional national retailers, according to USA Today (Sept 1st, 2010).
Facebook Credits is a virtual currency redeemable for primarily in-game Facebook purchases. In Farmville, for instance, gamers can use Facebook Credits as a currency, in lieu of credit cards, to purchase additional items for their farms. 7-11 also sells gift cards specifically for FarmVille.
Facebook Credits gift cards package the virtual currency in consumer-friendly entities, which Facebook hopes will appeal to holiday shoppers. The gift cards are visually no different than the variety sold in stores today, and were produced by GMG Entertainment, the same company that makes Apple’s iTunes cards.
With the cards, Facebook is hoping duplicate the success of Apple’s iTunes cards, a fact that seems likely given its active user base – more than 200 million people play free social games on the site each month, many of whom are beginning to spend money on premium services associated with these games. In addition to online games, Facebook Credits can be used to purchase web applications and virtual goods.
Social gaming is a relatively new industry with huge potential. More than 56 million Americans are now playing social games. By 2013, annual sales from virtual goods are expected to reach $6 billion. Facebook’s foray into brick-and-mortar retail stores is a significant move that will help the company capitalize on social gaming.
In Facebook’s latest in-house promotion of Credits, its virtual currency, the company is running advertisements for its retail gift cards above third-party applications on canvas pages.
The ad simply says: “Facebook Credits Gift Cards: Power up your play on Facebook — visit a Target Store near you to buy a card.” The “near you” is linked to a Target store locator application, making it easy for interested people to buy a card.
Facebook introduced these gift cards with retail chain Target at the beginning of the month as another way to get more users purchasing the currency. Social game developers like Playdom and Zynga began offering their own gift cards last year, following in the footsteps of MMOs and other online games with virtual currency systems. As Facebook has more recently pushed to make Credits the only paid virtual currency for canvas applications, it in turn added this payment option (along with a wide range of others)
To redeem the amount of Credits purchased in one of the cards, users first scratch off the concealment material to reveal a secret code, then enter the code within the Credits interface. Their account will then be credited with the amount.