Credits have been the sole permissible payment option in social games since July, freeing users from typing in credit-card numbers but requiring developers to share 30% of their transaction revenue with Facebook. Universal hasn't had to worry about the revenue share -- Facebook collects its cut when people spend credits, not when they receive them -- but it is shelling out at least $100,000 to fund the giveaway.
The "Heist it Back" game echoes the plot of "Tower Heist," an action-comedy in which the characters seek revenge on a swindling Wall Street executive. Facebook users win two, five or 10 credits at a time by clicking "Heist" buttons on characters' pages and elsewhere.
"We wanted to create something live within the Facebook ecosystem, driving the story and driving the promotion to integrate around the brand and encourage social sharing," said Doug Neil, senior VP of digital marketing for Universal.
"Heist it Back" may also help market Facebook credits to consumers who haven't used them before. The game includes a section explaining what credits are, how users can view their credit counts and what kinds of things they can do with them, from spending them in Farmville to watching "Scarface" on Facebook.
Using something of value -- credits -- will boost engagement with the promotion, according to Hill Salomon, creative director at The Branding Farm, which built "Heist it Back" with iFeelGoods, a developer specializing in Facebook credits.
"There are some challenges, but we have confidence that credits have a good future," said Mr. Salomon.
Universal is also distributing cards at screenings using QR codes to send attendees to play the game.