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Matt Hulett

Facebook is beginning to expand its Facebook Credits system beyond its own social networking site with a new initiative called Facebook Credits for Websites. Seattle-based GameHouse, the RealNetworks games division, is the first publisher to use the new system.

GameHouse is testing Facebook Credits with versions of UNO Boost and Collapse! Blast on — letting people buy virtual goods such as power-ups and additional lives using the Facebook Credits system, after logging in with Facebook Connect.

Matt Hulett, the GameHouse president, talked about the pilot in an interview with GeekWire this morning, pointing out that it looks to be the first time Facebook has partnered with a Seattle-based company on a pilot along these lines.

How did this come about? 

As you know, we’ve bet most of the games division here on social, and we have two pieces of benefit and advantage that a pure-play social company doesn’t have. One is, we’ve got the funding of a big corporate parent, so we’re aggressively rolling out social games, but also we have 15 to 20 million unique users every month going to our global websites. is a leading site for traditional PC games, but those same players are going over to either an app store or Facebook to play games in droves, which is why we’re going that way. Facebook was interested in working with us as almost an extension of Facebook — how do you marry a publisher game experience with a Facebook experience, and we’re kind of uniquely suited to test with them.

What’s the advantage for you from a business perspective from using Facebook Credits on these two games?

From a traffic perspective and a business perspective, we think it’s advantageous to take our current audience base and make them avid consumers of our social games, whether they’re on the dot-com or off. We think there’s going to be a positive impact on traffic by doing this. Secondly, we think it’s always good to be a fast mover with Facebook. Certainly we’re not No. 1 in social games yet. That’s Zynga. But we actually think we have a position as a cross-platform games provider that will be an interesting way to partner with people like Facebook, and there will be some benefit with that, as well.

Are you giving something up? For example, from Zynga’s financial filings, we know they give Facebook a 30% cut of gross revenue when people use Facebook Credits. Is there an opportunity cost here for you?

There’s always opportunity cost, but Facebook has asked us not to talk about the financial terms.

Could you see Facebook Credits being implemented more broadly on if this works?

Yes, we have 15 games on Facebook right now, and there’s no reason we can’t do a really good job of integrating them. When you go to what we’re going to be interested in looking at time played on site, the things people do, but one of the things that’s interesting is that we’re actually integrating some benefit to playing these social games to our dot-com customers, for example, you get bonus coins, which you can redeem to get free games or Amazon gift cards or things like that. We’re actually looking at providing additional benefit for consumers to play social games on, so they can benefit either their social game play or their traditional PC game play. We’re going to be interested in testing that. We think it’s going to be a huge traffic driver for us in thh future.

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