Apple's patent hammer could crush Facebook's gaming empire

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Facebook CreditsFacebook needs social games, and social games need Facebook. The multibillion dollar company's recent filing for initial public offering shows that. Thanks to Facebooks' 30 percent cut of all transactions in games using Facebook Credits (um, all of them), the company made $445 million from Zynga's games alone in 2011. According to CBS News, Apple is poised to ruin the fun.

The iPhone pusher was granted a patent today that it applied for way back in May 2006, titled Digital Media Acquisition Using Credit, and it stands directly in opposition of the social network's Facebook Credits system. While we highly suggest you check out the patent in full, what it basically covers is a system that does this, as per CBS News:
  • associate media items with a price in company or store credits
  • determine whether a given item is available for a credit purchase
  • identify the country in which a given user is in case there is a limitation on selling to that country
  • perform the transaction

That sounds quite a lot how Facebook Credits works, no? Facebook's future reliance on Facebook Credits, especially in the social games space in which some players spend thousands every year, is why Apple's new patent is so threatening. Now, it's impossible that Apple filed this patent in hopes of blocking Facebook, since it was filed when the social network was still exclusive to colleges.

This possibility rests solely on whether a court would deem things like digital cows and Farm Cash as "media items," as they're described within the patent. And if worse comes to worst, this could be bad news for Facebook as far as games are concerned. And remember, Apple is definitely not afraid to swing the patent hammer.

Do you think that Apple would ever confront Facebook or even Google+ with its new patent? What do you think this would mean for social games moving forward? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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