Facebook games could make money thanks to social, not just addiction

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Like buttonIt's a common belief that Facebook games are so successful thanks to an incredible small, dedicated, addicted minority that is willing to spend on things like Farm Cash in FarmVille. While that's certainly true, the Scrooge McDuck-style pools of money for Mark Pincus and other CEOs is thanks to not just addiction, but social features within Facebook.

According to the New York Times, designer clothing companies like American Eagle and national box offices like Ticketmaster have seen record increases in revenue thanks to features such as the "Like" button. For instance, Facebook said to NYT on Wednesday that visitors to Ticketmaster through the Facebook News Feed spent an additional $5.30 on average than other visitors. Wait, didn't Playfish recently add the Like button to its games?

The company introduced the new feature to its games like Pet Society back in 2010, and while there aren't hard numbers on the feature's success rate, you can imagine that it's doing relatively well compared to Ticketmaster and Eventbrite's results. Even before the like button, social gamers were already inclined to share their every move. So, why not purchases? Come to think of it, it is a wonder that Zynga and other developers haven't already hopped on this idea.

It's brilliant, really. Banner ads don't work--they haven't for years since users became savvy of what to click on (for the most part). But a recommendation from a friend? Those are, in most cases, priceless. (Well, in this case, they'd be full of price, no? Never mind.) If popularized, this would not only change revenue numbers, but the way in which we buy virtual goods.

Eventually, social gamers could rely on their friends' word more than anything before buying that new plow, most of which they don't even know outside of Facebook. Now, does this have the potential to turn social games into social shopping malls? Have you looked at Facebook games lately?

Do you think the Like button could change the way you buy online content? Would you buy virtual goods more often if your friends honestly recommended them? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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