InComm Works Toward Expanding Gift Card Reach in Social Gaming
Gift and prepaid card distributor InComm is significant to just a handful of the largest social game companies — those with games like FarmVille and Sorority Life that have enough users to support sales of a dedicated retail gift card.
Over 2010, few new games have emerged with similar scale, so despite moves to add new retail partners and international markets, Incomm still isn’t directly involved with most social game developers.
Smaller game developers may want to start thinking about gift cards as part of their future revenue, though. InComm is one of the partners Facebook works with to distribute the new Facebook Credits gift cards, and it is also working to launch Zeevex, a virtual currency startup that it bought in March, with smaller games and alternate gaming platforms.
“We’ve been signing up new partners that can’t do the volume to support a prepaid card,” says Dave Etling, InComm’s vice president of development. “I can tell you that digital content is one of the fastest-growing segments of our business today. We’ve already beat our numbers from last year through October by about 28%, and traditionally November and December are by far our biggest months.”
The idea with gift cards is to give 13 to 17 year olds a way to buy virtual currency in shops. Of course, anyone can buy the cards and use them. But Etling says the feedback he’s heard is that gift cards don’t cannibalize revenue from other sources.
“It has actually attracted a new user base that would play and never pay,” says Etling. “There are consumers who would pay with credit cards, do a gift card and then go back to credit — they got the gift because somebody knew they were into this particular social game.”
And as always when consumers are offered a new alternative, there are some unexpected uses. “The other pink elephant is that there are certain consumers who may not want their husband or wife to know they’re paying for virtual goods, and they’ll pick up a card at Walmart and put it in the basket to continue playing. We know it can be used for anonymity,” says Etling.
InComm is working with over a dozen potential partners for Zeevex, and should have more to announce early next year.