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Gift cards for online games

By Janna Herron ·
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Posted: 4 pm ET

Have you seen Subway's new menu item? Game credits for Battlestar Galactica Online.

Well, almost.

Thanks to the creation of Openbucks, a gift card payment network, customers can buy gift cards from participating retailers and redeem them for online games.

The retailers include Subway, Circle K, CITGO, Hess and Sports Authority. After buying an Openbucks-enabled gift card, someone can use it  for online games by Bigpoint, World Golf Tour, Meez, Parallel Kingdom, G4Box, Roiworld, Aeria Games and Artix, among others.

It's simple to use. For example, if you want to buy new golf gear in World Golf Tour without a credit card, just enter the card number and PIN on the back of your Circle K gift card and the transaction is done.

Openbucks Co-founder and President Itamar Kandel expects the gift card payment method will appeal to the large portion of online gamers who don't have a credit card (read: the unbanked or teenagers) or don't feel comfortable inputting their account information online.

Who can blame them?

Earlier this year, hackers compromised personal and credit card information from more than 100 million Sony video game user accounts, one of the biggest data breaches ever.

Retailers like the system, Kandel says, because it drives more people to their stores and restaurants, which helps generate more sales in addition to the gift card. (Heck, while I'm here, I'll get a footlong.)

And the game companies benefit, too. Testing research shows that nearly three-quarters of people who made a purchase using Openbucks had never bought virtual goods before, while 45 percent became frequent users of online games.

Kandel says there's been talk of expanding the gift card payment network to beyond just online games and their digital products. He mentioned looking at subscription services such as Netflix, but there are no plans yet.

Openbucks launched this week and can be found at

Would you rather pay by gift card for online games than by credit card? What other services would you like to see this used for?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron

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September 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm

wow that was a very fine one to look over that

September 15, 2011 at 6:22 pm

What are the fees with the gift card?