Social gaming, the act of playing online games on social media networks like Facebook, is a growing phenomenon. In the social game CityVille, the “population” is seven times greater than the real population of Shanghai, which is the largest city in the world. In another Facebook game, FarmVille, more virtual tractors “sell” on the game on a daily basis than sell in real stores throughout the U.S. in an entire year.
Social games also make “virtual goods” available for purchase to gamers. The virtual goods market generated revenues of $7.3 billion last year. This accounted for about 12% of the revenues generated by the entire video game industry. Social gamers can now do more with the virtual currency that they accumulate while playing social games; now, they have the ability to give back to communities and charities that they care about with the funds.
MasterCard may take your money in fees, but the company also gives back to the community as one of several corporations that participate in GamesThatGive. The GamesThatGive program creates custom games for brands. When people play the games that bear their names, the sponsoring companies donate real money to real charities. Some of the charities and nonprofit organizations that benefit from the donations of companies like MasterCard include UNICEF, the Ronald McDonald House Charities and Habitat for Humanity.
Brands that sponsor custom games are able to choose the charities or organizations that benefit from their donations as well as how donated funds accumulate. For example, some games donate a set amount of money for every minute that a user spends playing. Others base donations on the achievements or levels that players reach.
If you happen to be a MasterCard user and a social gamer, social gaming donations create a win-win situation for you and your favorite charities. Earning for organizations while you play diminishes the guilt you may experience from “wasting time” on social games. At the same time, you can feel good about the fact that the credit card fees that you pay to MasterCard contribute to helping out a good cause. The partnership between GamesThatGive and MasterCard transforms time wasted into time well spent.