Whatever Happened to Facebook Credits?

Facebook And Target Begin Sale Of Facebook Gift Cards
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Facebook Credits was a virtual currency that enabled users to purchase items in games and non-gaming apps on the social media platform. Launched in May 2009, the concept went as far as creating an official subsidiary to handle payments to the site (Facebook Payments, Inc.). However, by June 2012 Facebook announced that they were discontinuing the money system and would convert it back to traditional currency. It was completely removed from the Facebook platform in September 2013.

Facebook Payment System

The Facebook payment system made it even easier for people to buy Facebook credits. When you purchased Facebook credits, you were actually buying a new form of currency that could be used anywhere on Facebook. Every time you bought Facebook credits, Facebook got paid, and every time you spent Facebook credits, the owner of the ​Facebook application you spent money on got paid as well.

At the time, Facebook credits were Facebook's way of making money without resorting to ads or making Facebook users pay a fee to use Facebook. Traditionally, websites have made money by either charging a membership fee ​or by offering ads on their site. The Facebook payment system was intended to change that.

Facebook is certainly not the first online application to use a payment system to earn money, though. Second Life had been doing it for years, making users pay for Linden dollars (the game's unit of trade) so they could buy items.

What Did Facebook Credits Buy?

There were many things you could do with Facebook credits once you bought them, such as:

  • Buy points to play Facebook games
  • Buy e-greeting cards
  • Buy virtual items for your virtual Facebook games
  • Buy your avatars some food
  • Buy virtual pets
  • Buy virtual homes

The Appeal of Buying Facebook Credits

So, why did people spend so much money on virtual items, anyway? Some reasons people were happy to part with their cash for Facebook credits:

  • To get further in their game faster
  • Boredom
  • To make their game more interesting

For a good majority of users, playing a game to earn Facebook credits is fun in itself, but ultimately, spending money on those non-tangible credits didn't stand the test of time.