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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Prepaid cards for online gamers

Online gamers who enjoy getting lost in the virtual worlds created by Gala-Net Inc. can now purchase prepaid cards at Target Corp. stores redeemable online for in-game items and accessories.

Called gPotato Game Cards, the cards can be bought for $15 or $30 at Target and used to purchase items that add power and abilities to online gaming identities.

For instance, gamers entering the virtual world of Flyff can use the cards to enhance their online characters with a Scroll of Acquisition or a Madrigal Guardian Red Helmet. For the game Upshift StrikeRacer, gamers can use the prepaid cards to upgrade their virtual racecars with TurboM to improve acceleration.

Jikhan Jung, Chief Executive Officer at Gala-Net, said that the move to prepaid will help the MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) publisher reach a broader market. "Teens are the biggest fans of our online games, but since they are too young to have a credit card to purchase gPotatoes, these prepaid cards will be the most convenient option to purchase our premium items," he said.

GPotatoes is the in-game currency used by gamers for Gala-Net's online, multiplayer games. The games themselves are free to play by anyone; but enhancing players' abilities is not.

According to Megan T. Vo, Public Relations Coordinator at Gala-Net, the prepaid cards are distributed by GMG Entertainment to Target stores. Atlanta-based InComm provides the integration and processing of the cards. Vo said, "InComm generates PIN codes on the cards, and our billing system connects to their system to verify the PIN numbers when users come to our Web site and redeem the cards."

Gala-Net, a Silicon Valley-based free-to-play online gaming company, was established in 2005. It only commercialized its first online game, Flyff, in Oct. 2006. Since, Gala-Net has grown into an industry leader with 3.4 million registered users, Vo said.

That rapid expansion coincides with accelerating growth in the prepaid game card market. Boston-based payments consultancy Mercator Advisory Group combines online game cards with ring tone downloads into one closed-loop prepaid market sector. Mercator predicts that sector will grow from a $4.47 billion load volume in 2008 to over $8 billion by 2010.

Just like moviegoers who see value in handing over $10 per person to experience make believe worlds in movies, online gamers see value in using real world money to enhance their online characters' experiences in virtual realms. end of article

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