Meta (formerly Facebook) has found a new way to avoid the app stores’ commissions on in-app purchases with the launch of a new website where people can buy “Stars” — the virtual items that allow fans to express their support for favorite creators during Facebook videos and livestreams. Typically, Stars are bought as in-app purchases on mobile devices where they’re subject to a revenue share with the app store platform provider — meaning, Apple or Google. But when fans purchase Stars via the new Facebook website, they’ll use Facebook Pay, not Apple or Google’s payment mechanisms.
This will allow fans to “get more Star for their money at lower rates,” notes a Facebook announcement. That appears to be true for the time being at least, as Facebook is offering “bonus” Stars with every purchase. That means, for example, when you spend $9.99 on 530 Stars, you’ll now get another 420 Stars as a bonus when purchased through the website. Via the Facebook mobile app and in-app purchases, however, you would only get the 530 Stars. (Note: I am referencing the website bonus amounts that appeared when the site is loaded today. The Facebook blog post features a screenshot that shows different bonus amounts. We understand rates are even lower during the month of December for the “Stars Fest” event. Regardless, these bonuses mean you get more Stars for your money via the web.)
There are Bonus Stars available at a variety of increments, with the number of extra Stars increasing alongside your purchase amount. You can purchase as few as 45 Stars (with a bonus of 35 Stars) for $0.99 or as many as 6,400 Stars (with a bonus of 3,600 Stars) for $99.99, according to the website as it appears now. (See above.)
But if the bonuses are removed, there’s no advantage to using a website over in-app purchases, as the rates appear to otherwise be the same as you’d otherwise pay.
Once purchased through the Stars Store website, the Stars are deposited into people’s virtual wallets so they can be distributed to eligible creators during their Facebook Live or on-demand videos. Creators can reward their fans who use Stars however they want — they may give them a shoutout on the video or some other perk in line with their style and content.