Don’t Be Evil, Facebook (Or Greedy)
Calling Google evil is so last week. Facebook is the new (evil) kid in town. Why? Because starting July 1, Facebook is forcing all games on its social network to process payments through Facebook Credits. People are freaking out, and maybe they should be.
Consumer Watchdog has issued a statement, saying,
The 30% service fee exacted by Facebook from game developers, along with other Facebook Credits terms described in detail in this complaint, will make it far more difficult, if not cost prohibitive, for smaller game developers to compete inside the Facebook platform against larger developers.
(It seems even more ludicrous that Zynga still has a special exemption from Facebook’s 30% cut. Though to be fair, that agreement was made in 2010, when Facebook was paranoid their single biggest gaming partner would jump ship, spawning a mass exodus of game developers and their lucrative gamer customers.)
But now that Facebook-as-a-platform has proven a success, the company is wielding its big stick. Is it finally time to start fearing Facebook? So what if their current 30% policy only applies to games? Facebook’s efforts to move into more general e-commerce are surely paving the way for more mundane transactions in the future. Like all large companies, Facebook will expand its fees. First they hit up games, but next comes… local deals, e-commerce… regular commerce? If Facebook Messages are slowly replacing email among younger web surfers, and Facebook is becoming the most popular website (in the U.S., at least), why wouldn’t a Facebook credit card — taking 30% margins from merchants, not customers — be far off? A future with Facebook Credits as a world super-currency does not seem like an entirely crazy notion.
Google’s power to be evil is nothing compared to Facebook’s. Let’s just hope Zuckerberg’s past ethical indiscretions are no predictor of future behavior and Zuck remembers the old adage, “With power comes responsibility.”