Facebook says 'so long' to the virtual gift shop starting August 1

facebook virtual gift shop closes August 1
facebook virtual gift shop closes August 1

For those of you who would spend your hard-earned cash to buy virtual birthday cakes, flowers and teddy bears on Facebook's virtual gift shop -- this news might come as a surprise. Last night, Facebook announced that it will be closing its virtual gift shop permanently starting August 1, so the staff can "focus on improving other products ... such as Photos, News Feed, Inbox, games, comments, the 'Like' button and the Wall."

The gifts that have already been sent or received will still be visible on your Facebook Wall and items will still be on display on your gifts page. Third-party gifting applications will still allow you to send a virtual wish, such as RockYou's popular Birthday Cards App, the Hallmark Social Calendar and -- my personal favorite -- the irreverent someecards.

Love 'em or hate 'em, the virtual gifts on Facebook can be credited with the success of Facebook Credits, which is quickly becoming the de facto currency for social games, and it also showed that Facebook users were willing to part with few real-life dollars to purchase virtual goods, making it possible for freemium games, e.g. FarmVille, to exist and reach critical mass.

The Facebook gift store closing, on the other hand, serves as a reminder that while you -- the consumer -- open your wallets to buy virtual goods on Facebook, in social games, that this investment won't necessarily stick around for the long term. That's something I'll certainly think about the next time I'm tempted to use my credit card to buy a 'limited edition' whatever in the dozen or so social games on my daily radar.

[Via Facebook Official Blog]