Editor's Note: Editor's Note: This article first appeared in SellingPrepaid E-Magazine, Oct. 8, 2008, issue 08:10:A. For more information on the prepaid sphere, visit www.sellingprepaid.com.
To capitalize on the growing market for prepaid game cards for online role-playing games, PayByCash, a wholly owned subsidiary of PlaySpan Inc., launched a reseller channel for the Ultimate Game Card.
"The prepaid card market is, of course, just really exploding," said Kevin Higgins, President and Chief Executive Officer at PayByCash. "And this is a unique product that was enabled by the fact that we have really great and widespread adoption throughout this fast growing vertical."
Through PayByCash's Web site, ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) worldwide can purchase at a discount a batch of physical game cards or codes for virtual cards and then resell them at face value.
"So, what it enables is gaming cafes, Internet cafes, small businesses and, frankly, micro entrepreneurs anywhere where they may have or know of a nexus of gamers who are looking for a convenient and fast way to pay for games online, whether this is an entrepreneurial young adult or a mom-and-pop convenience store operator," Higgins said.
"They can take an immediate delivery of codes or they can take physical cards that we can have drop-shipped right to them and immediately go to business selling the Ultimate Game Card," he added.
The cards are available for resale globally, where opportunities abound for new, untapped verticals.
"So if you operate an Internet café in Turkey where a lot of gamers play from a café rather than from home, this is an additional revenue stream," he said. "And you can sign up and gain access to it and take your codes literally in a matter of minutes."
Higgins said that, beyond the borders of the United States, in many places there is no infrastructure to accept physical cards at the POS. Thus, the virtual game cards - which are redeemed directly at gaming Web sites - give PayByCash more flexibility in reaching the global game card market.
In the United States, POS integration at many retailers - such as at the big-box discount stores - has been achieved, and the physical Ultimate Game Cards can be activated at checkout. But for smaller U.S. merchants, integration still might be lacking.
"Let's say you take the codes online, you buy a batch of codes and those cards are hot [already activated]," Higgins said. "What we will be providing to them is really a Web UI [user interface] that lets the reseller manage their code inventory and basically click and print, and they can just print out a code, hand it over to the consumer in exchange for cash and the consumer goes on his way.
"It's obviously a protective and secure UI that the reseller can log onto. If they take a physical card, those cards are delivered hot, so they do have a responsibility for security.
"But if they ever decide that the program is not for them, they can return unused cards for a credit. So it's really a low-risk proposition for business owners and entrepreneurs."
PayByCash has integrated the Ultimate Game Card platform with about 200 online game publishers for over 300 online role playing games, such as Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, Dungeons & Dragons Online and Star Wars Galaxies. Forty more game publishers are now integrating their online games with PayByCash.
The physical cards are distributed to approximately 20,000 retail locations, of those locations 16,000 are within the United States, including 7-Eleven Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Blockbuster Inc. stores.
Despite the Ultimate Game Cards' widespread distribution, Higgins said it isn't wide enough. "We didn't really achieve what we consider this UPS store-like distribution density where we had a card in a store within a couple miles of anybody no matter where they lived in the U.S.," he said.
Higgins sees offering virtual cards to resellers as a way to achieve that level of coverage. "It's a brand new product," he said.
"Currently, the predominant consumer experience and uptake is driven by somebody who is compelled to play a game through PayByCash. They find a store close to them, buy Ultimate Game Cards, redeem them online and then they're playing." Higgins believes the versatility of the Ultimate Game Card is one of its greatest attributes, especially as the holiday season approaches.
"It really is the perfect gift for your gamer because you don't have to go out and buy what might be a single publisher card hoping that you got the right game or that they're still going to be playing that game when Christmas comes around," he said. "The Ultimate Game Card works on pretty much all the major games."
Prepaid game cards are used by gamers to buy in-world game time or to enhance their abilities and experiences within virtual worlds.
The Ultimate Game Card is a one-time use card. When gamers redeem the cards online, the full amount loaded on the cards is drained.
If ticket amounts are less than the face value on cards, the balance is dumped into PayByCash's stored value system where gamers can use the remaining funds when they so choose. For more information, contact Chris Debaun, Product Manager for the Ultimate Game Card, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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