The online gaming industry continues to support survivors of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan with fund-raising initiatives driven by virtual goods and in-game donations. Zynga has raised over $2.5 million for Japan in conjunction with Save the Children and the Red Cross, with an additional $1.5 million directly donated by pop star Lady Gaga. MMO publishers Sony Online Entertainment and gPotato have also launched their own Japan charity virtual goods that go on sale this week.
In Zynga’s social games, players can donate to the Red Cross’s Japan relief effort by spending Facebook Credits on special virtual goods like crops in FarmVille or buildings in CityVille. Zynga launched the program about two weeks ago and continues to sell the charity goods. Social games can deploy charity items rapidly in response to disasters, but Sony Online Entertainment is just now rolling out Japan charity virtual goods into its various 3D subscription-based MMORPGs.
The SOE games EverQuest, EverQuest II, Free Realms, and Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures will sell $10 virtual cherry blossoms from March 25 through March 28, with proceeds going directly to the American Red Cross. Star Wars Galaxies, PoxNora, and Magic: The Gathering Tactics will sell alternate game-themed charity items. SOE parent corporation Sony has already donated over $3.6 million to earthquake relief, including a donation of over 30,000 radios.
gPotato, which primarily publishes localized Korean MMOs, also rolls out its charity items for Japan this week. gPotato will sell a variety of items across its game portfolio, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Red Cross. The portal’s flagship game Rappelz will sell a “helping hands cloak,” with alternate items available in Flyff, Iris, Luna, and Tales Runner. Other social, virtual world, and MMO developers doing Japan charity relief campaigns include Playfish, Gaia Online, and WeeWorld.
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