In 2018, Activision Blizzard launched a fundraising initiative through its popular multiplayer video game Overwatch in order to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Donations were collected in three ways: Players could buy a limited edition pink "skin" or in-game outfit; players could purchase t-shirts featuring the pink Mercy character; and a special playing event was held on Twitch featuring 14 star players who each donated their tips or "bits" received during the event. The result was $12.7 million raised for the cause.
In February of 2018, the company sold an in-game pet named Mischief on Overwatch and a similar plush in-game pet on World of Warcraft with all proceeds donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Donations totaled $2.5 million.
According to Brittany Tompkins, Global Philanthropy Manager for Blizzard Entertainment, the company has held other events with donations supporting the American Red Cross and Children’s Hospital of Orange County.
Individual gaming leagues and teams are also joining the philanthropic movement within the gaming industry. The Zeldathon Team, which has sponsored fundraising events since 2009, has raised over $2.6 million for causes such as Direct Relief, a disaster aid organization.
With a growing audience base, especially since Activision Blizzard has signed a deal with ESPN to broadcast esports league games, philantrhropic initiatives are expected to gain in popularity within the gaming industry.
In 2018, Italian developer, Affinity Project, developed a video game entitled Don-ay Petland, the first donation game. The game would demonstrate "philanthropy on a daily basis."
In a Tomagatchi-style platform, players lead animated puppies through mazes and hazards and are responsible for their care by purchasing in-game resources. A portion of each in-game purchase is donated to charity. In addition, a portion of in-game ad revenue will be donated to charity. While the charity partner had not been named at the time this article was published, according to the Don-ay website, the charity partner is Best Friends Animal Society.
The developers wanted to ensure that donations were not "forced" as a part of gameplay, stressing that it is not a "pay-to-win" platform. In-game purchases are completely voluntary and will not impact the outcome. However, in-game ads are not skippable in order to ensure consistent ad revenue.
Users receive regular feedback showing how their much their gameplay has generated in donations and how it has been used by the charity. Players can post their donation achievements on social media, therefore raising more awareness for the charity and the game.
According to creative director Diego Ricchiuti, "While it is true that the single one-off donation may generate more money then watching an ad, by being part of the community the users learn the message and the meaning of the charity, becoming an evangelist on social media and in the games world."
Humble Bundle launched in 2010 offering a two-week Humble Indie bundle with a portion of the proceeds going to charity. Since then, it has expanded to include games, ebooks, software, and other digital content. The company still retains its mission of "supporting charity while providing awesome content to customers at great prices."
Humble Bundles feature limited-edition bundles of games, books, or software. With Bundles, customers can choose to pay what they want. They even have an option to decide how their payment should be divided between the creators, charity, Humble Partners, and Humble Bundle.
Through the Humble Choice subscription, 5% of the monthly subscription fee is donated to the featured charity of the month. Monthly subscription packages include Lite at $4.99/month, Basic at $14.99/month, and Premium for $19.99/month. In addition to receiving 9 games per month, subscription members get 20% cash back in rewards for store purchases. Customers can choose to donate all or a portion of their cash back reward to charity.
Regular purchases made through the Humble Store earn a 10% cash back reward. By default, 50% of the cash back award goes to charity, however, users can adjust the split percentages for their account.
Charities supported by Humble Bundle include Games Aid, Make a Wish Foundation, American Red Cross, Save the Children, World Child, World Reader, World Wildlife Fund, Zidisha, and Call of Duty Endowment. Since its founding in 2010, Humble Bundle has raised over $164 million for charity.
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