Tomorrow, Yahoo will announce a deal with Offerpal, the company that provides marketers the chance to buy virtual currency for prospective customers.
The deal should come as a wake-up call to Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
David Kirkpatrick, who spent hours interviewing Mark for a book called The Facebook Effect, says the young CEO is unhappy that the most popular and lucrative apps on the Facebook platform are games.
Mark recently told Inside Facebook, “I think people build platforms for utilitarian purposes and then get surprised that games are a killer app.”
Because of this disdain, Facebook frequently cracks down on social games by limiting how they can use Facebook’s viral channels to add new users.
It’s a strange distaste, considering that games companies like Zynga, Playdom, and EA’s Playfish will bring more than a billion dollars onto the Facebook platform this year – and that Facebook, through Facebook Credits, could eventually take a 30% cut of that action.
It’s a dangerous distaste, because Yahoo, a public company that can’t afford to be as philosophical about revenues as Mark, seems more than willing to take on social games.
In May, Yahoo took advantage of another round of Facebook limitations on social games virality to cut a deal with Zynga to bring its top game, FarmVille, to Yahoo.com. And now there’s tomorrow news: that Yahoo will announce a deal with Offerpal. An Offerpal spokesperson describes the deal as “a partnership with Yahoo! to monetize social games on the Yahoo! Application Platform, giving application developers a viable alternative to Facebook and its pending 30% “tax” imposed by Facebook Credits.”
Yahoo has a long way to go before it’s application platform is even close to becoming a real “alternative” to Facebook for games-makers. Its games area doesn’t have Facebook’s scale, and despite Facebook’s ever-increasing limits on the number of messages gamesmakers can send to their users, Facebook remains the easiest place on the Internet for a game to “go viral.”
But that doesn’t mean Facebook – and Mark, with his utilitarian’s disdain for games – couldn’t still blow it with more restrictions on gamesmakers that Yahoo won’t impose.