Facebook today unveiled its own App Center, a move that will broaden the social media giant’s revenue base and give it more control over its ecosystem at a time when investors are evaluating Facebook’s flotation expected next week.

By selling third-party apps directly, Facebook ensures that the transaction uses its own Facebook Credits payment system and that the apps use Facebook’s login, giving the network access to the related data.

Consumers cannot yet access the App Center, which currently is open in developer-only beta, but at launch it will include Draw Something, Pinterest, Spotify, Battle Pirates, Viddy, Bubble Witch Saga and others that use Facebook. Each app will have its own detail page so that consumers can learn more and shop before they download or buy.

Top performing apps will get the most prominent placement in the store. Not all apps will be listed in the App Center, however. According to Facebook, “We use a variety of signals, such as user ratings and engagement, to determine if an app is listed in the App Center. To help you monitor user feedback, we are also introducing a new app ratings metric in Insights to report how users rate your app over time.”

The Insights metrics include things like historical context and feedback by categories including gender and age.

Related links:

Facebook – developers blog post

Facebook – App Center guidelines

Facebook – App Center tutorial

Facebook – Insights

AllFacebook – Facebook Introduces App Center, Paid Apps Beta

BGR – Facebook to launch its own app store in the coming weeks

Marketing Week – Facebook unveils hub for brand apps

Engadget – Facebook starts App Center beta, readies itself for paid web apps

Pocket-Lint – Facebook launches social App Center

Photo by Flickr user GOIABA-Johannes Fuchs, used under Creative Commons license