Thursday, December 10, 2009

Here Come The Japanese!

Interactive toys that is ... "Bandai America Incorporated, the US arm of the Japanese toy company, is wrapping its arms around the Internet in a big way by including strong internet tie-ins for all major toy launches. Bandai, already a leader in introducing Japanese toys to the U.S., is expanding its dominance in the boys market to the girls category. Core to that effort is the integration of online elements into the majority of these toys, including a brand new Tamagotchi product and Harumika, a doll clothing design product."

Western Union & InComm Hook Up for Prepaid Money Transfer Service

Western Union and InComm have announced an agreement to offer the Western Union GoCashSM service, a new U.S. in-lane prepaid money-transfer service from Western Union.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

More on Rosedale's Love Machine

Six years after creating Second Life, Philip Rosedale announced that he would be focusing on a new project. Shrouded in mystery, the Linden Chairman and fellow Lindenite Ryan Downe began work in October on Love Machine Inc. Said Rosedale in today's blog post, "Yes, we are working on making a version of the Linden Lab LoveMachine (and some other tools too)...hopefully we can sell [this] to some companies and help them out." ReadWriteWeb sought to answer the immortal question - What is love?

LoveMachine is best known amongst Linden employees as a method of peer review. According to a 2006 Second Life Herald article, it was once used as a points-based employee incentive tool. Linden employees gave and received "love" for a job well done. If an employee was well-received amongst his or her peers, their accumulated love currency was redeemable for a cash bonus at the end of the month. Similar to social capital systems like Whuffie Bank, it appears that LoveMachine may become a reputation currency system for businesses.

EA Launches Prepaid Visa Debit Card

Electronic Artshas announced that it has "made it easier for loyal gamers to buy their favorite EA SPORTS™ titles with the launch of the first-ever EA SPORTS branded prepaid debit card. The reloadable prepaid debit card enables users to receive a percent back from every purchase at thousands of brick-and-mortar and online retailers to redeem points (“EA SPORTS Rewards Points”) that can be used to purchase select EA SPORTS game titles."

Well, Sony has one, so why can't EA? According to GameSpot, this Visa-branded card can be used at "thousands of brick-and-mortar and online retailers," and that includes the likes of Macy's, Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, iTunes and more. Featured with the card is the Rewards Points program; card holders will receive 100 points per $1 in "rewards back" offered by each merchant. Basically, if you go and spend $100 and the retailer offers 2% rewards back, that'll net you 200 points. What can those points be redeemed for? Why, EA Sports games, of course! Starting on December 15, you can use your accumulated points to purchase those titles through the publisher's web site; PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games go for 6,500 points and you'll need 5,500 points for Wii titles. You can dump more money onto your card in any number of ways (direct deposit, funds from your checking account, etc.), and you're only restricted to a maximum daily deposit of $950 and and a monthly amount of $4,500. You do have to pay a $1.99 monthly fee but besides that, there's really no reason to pick one up if you find yourself spending a lot of money on EA Sports products each year. Some time in the future, a hardcore gamer is gonna open his wallet and you'll see cards for EA, Activision, Microsoft, Square-Enix, etc.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Blizzard Finally Sells Virtual Items In World of Warcraft

Blizzard finally offers virtual goods for purchase in its MMORPG World of Warcraft. The first wave of virtual items for sale are a pair of virtual pets that have no mechanical in-game purpose, but instead strike amusing poses while let out for display. Each pet costs $10, with 50% of the proceeds from one of the two pets going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation if it is purchased before December 31, 2009.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Linden Lab Outsources Non-US Payment Services

Dragonfish signed a deal last month with Second Life to provide numerous services including payment processing, anti-fraud, and customer support management. This basically outsources Linden's payment management business. Dragonfish is the business-to-business arm of 888, an online casino, launched earlier this year. Second Life is Dragonfish's first virtual world client, as the company usually deals with online gambling services. "Dragonfish has a strong track record in unlocking new markets through its unique and secure payment processing solutions, and as Second Life continues to grow internationally, we're pleased to work with them to provide easy and secure payment options for our users outside the US," said Mark Kingdon, CEO of Second Life parent company Linden Lab, in a press statement.

Vindicia Adds PayPal to CashBox

Vindicia has has integrated PayPal with its billing solution, CashBox. Vindicia supports both PayPal Express Checkout and PayPal's recurring billing solution. According to the company, "these new features, in addition to the company's best-of-breed processor support and additional capabilities such as offer management, sales tax calculation, automated payment retry logic and fraud screening, provide a compelling billing experience for online vendors."

Peanut Labs Survey on The Infamous "Offer Debate"

Here is an interesting read about the Shukla/Arrington debate at VGS.
Here are the results of a survey Peanut Labs ran - interesting:

Zynga Launches PetVille & Retires GoPets

Zynga, which aquired GoPets launched PetVille. As the name implies, PetVille is Zynga's entry into the time-tested but crowded "virtual pet" genre of social game. Users can adopt and play with virtual pets, earning items to customize their virtual homes and appearances. What is curious about the sudden launch of PetVille is that, technically speaking, Zynga was already operating a virtual pet game-- until about a month ago.

Zynga purchased GoPets about one month ago, according to statements made by GoPets founder Erick Bethke. A cursory glance at screenshots of GoPets and PetVille make it clear that the two games are very different, with GoPets 3D virtual world exchanged for simpler 2D graphics in PetVille. So why did Zynga purchase one of the Web's most popular virtual pet games only to shut it down and release something completely different a month later?