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Interest Growing For Pre-Paid Game Cards 70

Worlds in Motion is running an interview with GMG Entertainment, a company finding success marketing pre-paid "digital currency cards" used online for games and other entertainment services. Customers and retailers alike are enjoying the simplicity and utility of the cards, and GMG suggests that this segment of the industry will only continue to grow: "I estimate this year that you'll see EA enter this space for some of their games, and a few other big names are absolutely interested. In fact we're in final negotiations with a couple of recognizable names. We tend to estimate the size of the total pre-paid gaming card business when we do our numbers, and this year we're looking to something between $75-100 million dollars in sales across North America. We see that going to $250-300 million in 2009 and being in the region of a half-billion by 2010. We see this market growing dramatically in the next two to five years."
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Interest Growing For Pre-Paid Game Cards

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  • Pre (Score:4, Funny)

    by Konster ( 252488 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @01:46AM (#25515111)

    Pre paid? Does that mean someone already paid for them and they are free?

    • Yes. You purchase one a week, then post the number to all the online chat rooms you can find to add the value to each account.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Konster ( 252488 )

      Erm, how is my original post flamebait? It was merely a Carlinesque question about pre paid. Like pre heating an oven? How do you pre heat an oven? In the same token how do you pre pay for a game card? Pay for it via CC prior to picking it up, thus obviating the purpose? :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lgw ( 121541 )

        Mod points come with crack. Mods have been on crack since the mod system was added to Slashdot. Don't take it personally, or wonder why, as the answer is simply "crack".

  • Vouchers, like money but expires and you can only use it at one store.

    Sounds like what this is. It's yet another way to stop you getting a refund on that crappy game which promised the moon and delivered crap.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      The use they had when I've seen them was for playing online games without using a credit card. Believe it or not, many people who play MMORPGs are under age. Some of them either can't, or don't want to give their parent power over them by having them pay for the games directly. Instead, they go to Best Buy every month and purchase the game cards themselves. This system really isn't a bad one, and it doesn't really take advantage of anyone. The trick is, it needs to remain what it is and not become some
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:17AM (#25515233) Homepage

    Whole sections of value cards, all incompatible, are showing up in stores now.

    A Hispanic organization has been researching the various "Call Mexico" phone cards, and on average they deliver about 60% of their face value. It turns out that some of them have no value at all.

  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:25AM (#25515263)
    Thank God! After WoW destroyed my life and my credit cards were all canceled, I thought my days as an undead thief were over.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:33AM (#25515291) Journal
    So, let's see, "Pre-Paid Game Cards":

    The customer pays upfront, giving you 100% of the card's face value immediately. At worst, they end up giving you a little loan. At best, some or all of the card is never redeemed.

    These cards bring the nickel-and-dime micropayment experience to consumers too young for credit cards.

    The system can use the same, or similar, electronic payment infrastructure as credit cards already do, making it cheap to administer.

    Well, I can certainly see why interest is growing in selling prepaid cards, they are basically just an online rehash of the old gift card scam. What I find harder to understand is why interest would be growing in buying them(underage gamers with no other way of paying excepted). The whole gift card/prepaid "value" card thing is a gigantic scam.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Konster ( 252488 )

      I disagree that it is a scam, and it's also great for credit card holders to avoid HUGE headaches.

      I won't name names, but Pony Online Entertainment last year had some problem with their billing system that caused my credit card to get locked down due to suspected fraud. This became a very large problem as housing related bills that were charged to my card got declined. It took a solid day to get things ironed out, all from a problem that should never have happened in the first place.

      Also, I believe that EVE

    • Which is why in Nebraska, unredeemed gift cards must be turned over to the State Treasurer, who then tries to find the original owner.

    • "The whole gift card/prepaid "value" card thing is a gigantic scam."

      What gets me is that it's effectively a way for marketers to convince people to trade nice, clean cash that you can exchange for whatever good or service you want, in exchange for the same cash value with what amounts to a sort of restrictive End-User License Agreement attached to it (saying that "this money may only be exchanged for ScamCo® products or services". Sometimes there are even expiration dates or "service fees" associated

      • If there was a genuine discount (e.g. pay $45 and get a "$50 Gift Card" for ScamCo® products) I could understand the appeal - in that example, the company would be paying YOU in exchange for your cost in lost usefulness of the money by accepting the "license". I don't recall ever seeing it done this way, though.

        Back when I was on a pre-paid mobile, they did this.

    • I'm curious. I know some people don't have good credit, so they can't get 'credit cards', or they are underage. What are the requirements for the 'pre-paid' credit cards I see advertised from time to time? I would assume, being pre-paid, that you don't need to have good credit? Not sure about the age requirements though - can a minor get a pre-paid card?

      I'm not sure why more people don't use pre-paid credit cards for online transactions if they cannot get a 'traditional' credit card?

    • I buy them at Christmas, for friends and relatives who enjoy playing online games, and get a break from paying for it themselves. A $30 WoW card give the person 2 months of play, so it is a reasonable return for a gift. This is one of the things that never disappears off my brother's amazon wish list.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Well, I can certainly see why interest is growing in selling prepaid cards, they are basically just an online rehash of the old gift card scam. What I find harder to understand is why interest would be growing in buying them(underage gamers with no other way of paying excepted). The whole gift card/prepaid "value" card thing is a gigantic scam.


      Three reasons:

      1) Avoid linking your account against a credit card. This way, if the company somehow does something nasty, you're just out the value of your card,

      • I'm an online game developer and I looked into doing pre-paid cards a few years ago for my own game, Meridian 59 [].

        Parent post gets it right. It's not a scam, because companies make less money from the pre-paid cards than they do on direct sales. Take a WoW pre-paid card, for example; a $30 card gets you 2 months of play, but the company has paid anywhere between 30-50% of the face value to create, distribute, and provide retail markup for the card. (At least, those were the figures I was quoted when loo

  • by kesuki ( 321456 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:46AM (#25515331) Journal

    and i never will. how and where they find these people, is beyond me.

    i did play MUDs, i know the type of game, and I honestly think the only reason people play these games is to sell items, characters etc, to people with money but not the time, who want a tricked out sword and armor that make them godly in a video game, and they can brag about having so and so a sword.

    i played MUDs for about 6-8 months, and i never looked at an everquest box and thought 'this might be fun' i got over the genera as a whole, and it shocks me that people like these games. I know WOW is designed by great game programmers, but to me a video game should have a one time up front cost. paying by the month? forget it.

    not even for a console, where i can play many video games online for one 'extra' fee, forget it, i pay for internet, that's the most i'm willing to pay to play online. i know some people are willing to pay extra, but i just don't see the entire gaming world bending over to pay a few extra billion here and there to bolster the economy. the gaming venues have been hit or miss all through the gaming history, i've seen every major player from atari to nintendo have trouble treading water. there are reasons why companies like 3do are a legacy, and why EA owns half the gaming properties on the known face of the earth.

    trying to figure out what people want to do with their free time, is not a measured science, it's an art.

    i spent 2-3 years struggling with an addiction to online real time strategy, and i know i have an internet addiction, but after 3 years i learned how to deal with my online strategy addiction, and i now have time for television, the internet, and whatever else, all without usually having trouble falling asleep at night. during my addiction i was so problematic that i would play til 2 am and physical exhaustion set in, i would at times shout from getting angry at other gamers without even being aware of having spoken.

    it wasn't pretty, and i didn't have to go cold turkey. i can take measures to control how i game.

    sadly i don't know if kids can learn how to be grown up until they're 30. i'm 30 and i don't know if i could have said or done anything to prevent me from making the same mistakes i made. ah well.

    • They find them because there are alot of people willing to pay for a service. You give them money, and they give you something in return.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cjfs ( 1253208 )

      i have never paid to play a game online... and i never will. how and where they find these people, is beyond me.

      Most games with a monthly fee aren't charging you for the online play. They're charging because they're adding content and providing moderation services.

      There's a big difference between a racing game charging to just play online and a mmorpg that provides new content in patches and live in-game support.

      Far better to evaluate them as purchase price + monthly fee*months played/months. If it's not worth that to you, then don't buy.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I used to feel the same way, 'fuck you I already pay for internet, why would I rent your game too?'

      But then I did some math, Brand new computer games (with limited replayability) cost between 50 adn 70 bucks, they last me around 2-3 months, sometimes less, very very rarely more.

      A WoW subscription costs me about 15$ a month. Keeps me entertained, and comes with enough content that its quite likely WotLK will be released before I've seen everything in BC.

      I recently bought Rome:Total war, it cost me 45bucks (w

    • by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:30PM (#25519579)

      You think playing games less so that you can have time for watching television is somehow an improvement? Really?

      Given that, I'm not terribly surprised that you aren't able to understand why other people might like things that you do not.

    • by snuf23 ( 182335 )

      "now have time for television, the internet, and whatever else"

      Geez if you are going to pull the "online games are horrible addictive wastes of time" line please follow it up with something like:

      "Now I have time to have sex with lots of hot women"

      TV????? Do you think some people might prefer gaming because they enjoy an interactive hobby rather than a passive one?

      "during my addiction i was so problematic that i would play til 2 am and physical exhaustion set in, i would at times shout from getting angry at

    • by brkello ( 642429 )
      MMOs are not really a single game though. It is a game that evolves fairly dramatically over time. There is still significant development work going on that would not happen if it wasn't funded. Makes perfect sense to me.
    • Substitute "television" for "games" and that's something I could have written. Full disclosure: I'm a professional game developer.

      When I was young, I watched waaaay too much TV. I got glasses young because my parents noticed me getting really close to the TV while watching it. I didn't have cable most of the time growing up, so I watched whatever was on the broadcast waves. I watched cartoons, sitcoms, anything and everything.

      But, I got better. In college I started being a lot more social and got into

      • by kesuki ( 321456 )

        okay, i like your post, you bring up some good points. but there is more to reality than living behind glass and steel clad walls, in a self built prison designed to create and drive revenues.

  • by Zerth ( 26112 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @11:20AM (#25517685)


    A key growth limiter to online games has always been the need for credit cards, either because kids don't have them or adults don't want to risk fraud from either a fly-by-night game company or EA getting their billing department hacked.

    One-shot electronic money transfer are the future, I wish my credit card made them easy to do for everything. Maybe they should go talk to those cell-phone money guys in India.

    • "One-shot electronic money transfer are the future, I wish my credit card made them easy to do for everything. Maybe they should go talk to those cell-phone money guys in India."

      I have a card with a bank that has a one-time credit card number system I can use for one-shot transactions, or recurring paymemnts. I go to the website for the bank, and after logging in, I can request a number be created, I can specify how many months until it expires (2 month minimum), and I can specify a spending limit. It gener

    • Or maybe the kid's parents don't want him playing this type of game... Is this circumnavigating parental permission?
      • by Zerth ( 26112 )

        I dunno, maybe the parents could put the computer someplace visible and exhibit some parental responsibility to go with their parental authority?

        While I can't expect parents to learn how to firewall the ports necessary to play MMORPGs, I can certainly expect them to pay some attention to what their children do on the computer. If they can't, don't they shouldn't buy a computer.

  • I played WoW for about 6 months, leveled a character to 70, realized that end game sucked because I was paying a monthly fee to play a game where everything end game is on a timer....Wanna do X dungeon? Only once this week! Wanna make some material? Only once every 3 or 4 days...

    Screw that...

    Soooo now I'm playing a bit of Combat Arms which is a free shooter, but Nexon has implemented the micro-transaction system in such a way that its completely unappealing to attempt to "purchase" anything with game
  • Most of these replies regard why someone would use these:
    Take Runescape for example (yes I play, let the bashing begin):
    Most of its demographic is age 20 and below. Most of that age group does not have credit cards to pay membership, therefore, they release cards that you buy, that provide a month or two of membership once you input the PIN on the card.
    Ironically, the game that needed this most JUST released PP Cards a couple weeks ago.
    And for those saying "paying monthly for a game is stupid" Even
    • by Wog ( 58146 )

      $20 per month?

      I pay something like $13 a month. If you buy one month at a time it's $15. If you're somewhere with an oppressive VAT added on, it's something like $16 a month via ETC vendors.

  • Let me assure you that it is no mere coincidence that pre-paid gamecards are up and MMORPG's are also rising in sales. While trading accounts is specifically against Blizzard's (for example) EULA, I promise it happens every single day. Blizzard has made it known that they will ban any and all account suspected of being involved in any sort of sale or trade between parties, and will inherently ban any additional accounts associated with the billing information provided with the banned account.

    That being
  • I have a prepaid cell phone. I pay about $15 incl taxes a month for my phone. That's a lot cheaper than my previous plans with T Mobile and AT&T.

    I could see the prepaid cards for online games as a great incentive for kids. If they don't get their grades good, or don't do their chores then they miss out on the card until they remedy the situation. That could mean a week or more of no online chatting with their MMO friends.

    That, balanced with a time limit and responsible monitoring could be a good t

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"