Open Network Entertainment recently launched the ONE Power-Up Game Card, a universal prepaid gift platform, and cooperative marketing system that supports online game developers, publishers, virtual worlds, and social networks. ONE's Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Pete Grubb, sat down with Ten Ton Hammer to discuss this new venture and how it will affect the future of online gaming.
Ten Ton Hammer: Where did you get the idea for the ONE card?
Pete Grubb, ONE Vice President of Sales and Marketing:
We've been looking at this space for close to two years. We actually had planned on launching a universal platform before some of the competitors but we really thought it was important to wait and find the right partner that could give us backend systems that would allow us to deeply connect with our game publisher partners and do some very interesting things as it relates to transfer funds.
As you can see from some people in the universal card space, there are many people that can accept a pre-paid card and move funds from Point A to Point B. We thought it was very important to provide a better user experience and more flexibility for the end user so that a ONE Power-Up Game Card user can use that balance from our game site (OneGameCard.com) or from the game publisher's site equally as well and seamlessly.
Ten Ton Hammer:Can you explain how the card works?
Pete: Sure. The ONE Power-Up Game Card is truly a universal prepaid instrument for supporting virtual goods and subscription sales for online game communities, for virtual worlds, and evolving social network space. So fundamentally, we establish a balance for the card when a user activates that card on our system.
A user can take that card, go to our game portal site (onegamecard.com), enter their PIN if they wish to, and proceed with that transaction, or we really do encourage them to create an account and registration with our service. That will allow them to use partial balances across multiple game properties.
We also establish a special security code for that user. We have what's called the ONE Power Play Service and the power code is a unique and secure code that the end user establishes in their profile that then allows them to use that code on supporting partner sites to redeem funds and transfer them to the partner's commerce system.
Ten Ton Hammer: Who are some of the partners you have now then?
Pete: Our list is still growing, but our launch partners include Aeria Games, OnNet, Games Campus, NDoors Atlantica, JCE, GameHI, and Fantage.
Ten Ton Hammer: So they can use the card to pay for subscriptions as well as micro transactions?
Pete: Correct. So one of the things that really makes this service different is the ability to create an auto-recharge service. I think it's a very powerful feature for online game communities and particularly for publishers. What we allow you to do for our services is actually create an automatic recharge card service that can be recharged through a prepaid card.
I don't know if you have children, but I certainly do and a lot of how we designed our system is guided by my children's use of online game properties. Many times you have to give a child an incentive to do things and in this case, having an automatic recharge type feature that can be recharged through prepaid cards gives the parents a lot of power. It's not just a credit card that automatically recharges. There has to be some conscious decision about the need to recharge. So that's an example of some of the types of implementations we can support very easily through our platform.
Ten Ton Hammer: Are you in a position to offer some sort of savings to the end users, like specials on whatever in-game items they're looking to buy?
Pete: Yes. So rather than just being a reliable commerce or prepaid gateway platform for our partners, we're actually a cooperative marketing platform for our partners. What that means is that we work with them to create special incentive to drive new users to our platform and their game environment. We regularly update those special promotions in use for new users.
For example, an individual user would come into our site, they would receive a special incentive from Aria Games load that one card balance on their Aria Games point balance. We think the incentive and promotional aspect is very different.
The other aspect that we think is very different from some of the others that are in this space is the educational component. Today, many of the users that use prepaid cards are very familiar with the branded property that they use and look at this as a payment vehicle. That's all well and good and we'll do some of that as well, but what we're really focused on is broadening the base of online game use in the player space.
We believe that we have a responsibility and have taken a proactive role in educating our members and our users on various aspects of games for new users that may not be aware of that. So if you go to our site, you can learn about a game title, a genre, the various elements of the game, including strategy, the available virtual goods, and really familiarize yourself with the game. Whereas today, if you just jump into one of these properties, it could be fairly overwhelming for a novice user or a casual game user to make the leap to the MMO space.
Ten Ton Hammer: Do you see this card being expanded into more of the mainstream, triple-A MMO titles? Like something you'd see from Blizzard, or Sony Online Entertainment?
Pete: Yes. Yes we do. We fully expect to continue to expand this program. We had a unique ability based on the relationships that we have in the gaming industry to launch with a very solid base of MMO properties, but we're actively pursuing new publisher relationships.
Ten Ton Hammer: Is the ONE Power-Up Game Card out already?
Pete: Yes. Our first retail partner is Rite Aid. We work with our partner Incomm to distribute through Rite Aid and we are nationwide in Rite Aid stores.
Ten Ton Hammer: Has it been received well so far?
Pete: Yes. We just got started. Deployment began about a week and a half ago but we've been very pleased with the results.
Ten Ton Hammer: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us today, Pete. Before we go, is there anything else you'd like to let our readers know about the ONE Power-Up Game Card?
Pete: We spoke some about the user experience and we'll continue to enhance that over time, but we do believe that when you visit our onegamecard.com site you'll find it entertaining, useful, educational, and we expect it to be easy to be used. That's a driving philosophy of our service.
The other unique aspect is because we are a marketing partner for our partners, we use a very persistent communications method for our members. Every time a redemption is transacted in our platform, we communicate with the end user - the registrant or the user of that card. That is set up not only from onegamecard.com but also from our publisher sites. The key there is the constant communication.
ONE not only provides an educational aspect for the user, but for people that are under the age of 18 we also proactively ask that member to provide the parent's email address. We send out a parallel message to the registered user and the parent as well. We're working on a number of other card safety initiatives to try to create an even better and safer environment for families and kids.