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Rixty launches personalized and reloadable gift cards for online games

Rixty is taking online game gift cards to the next level by making them personalized, branded, and reloadable.

Online game gift cards have become a big market, since they let users get virtual goods inside their favorite online games. But with the Rixty Custom Game Card, you can create a personalized gift card for a friend online. You can, for instance, put a picture of your friend’s avatar, or virtual character, on the plastic card.

You can designate the amount of money on the card, up to $999. Then you designate where to send it. The personalized card arrives five days later via physical mail, inside a paper greeting card. The user can keep the card and reload it at the nearest 7-Eleven convenience store.

Ted Sorom (pictured right), chief executive of San Francisco-based Rixty, said in an interview that game publishers can adopt the program as a white-label service. They can put their own brand names on the cards and enable users to order them from the publisher’s own game site.

“You get the card in the mail, Hallmark-style, with a personal message,” Sorom said. “We facilitate gifting in the real world.”

Rixty uses a patent-pending process to add a player’s username and avatar image to the card, which can have a personalized message. Sorom said the cards will help game publishers gain more users through word-of-mouth marketing and better long-term monetization because the cards are reloadable and collectible.

“Traditional game cards are used once and thrown away,” Sorom said. “These custom cards live in a player’s wallet” where you can show them off to friends or top up an account with more cash.

“This meets the needs of the publisher, retailer, and consumer,” Sorom said.

Masaru Ohnogi, chief executive of Gcrest America, publisher of the online game TinierMe, said that gift-giving is huge in his company’s game, so extending gifting into the real world with custom game cards is perfect, making participating in Rixty’s program one of the easiest decisions of the year.

The Rixty Custom Game Card program is available now and will support several big game publishers in time for the holidays. The system helps publishers because it means they don’t have to put so many cards into physical retail stores. And it still helps retailers because the cards are reloadable; when someone reloads a card, part of the transaction fee goes to 7-Eleven.

Rixty was founded in 2007 and has launched an alternative payment system that lets users spend cash and coins for online games, virtual goods and digital content. It thus extends participation in online games to kids and people who don’t have credit cards. Rixty cards are available in 73,000 stores in the U.S. and nearly 500,000 worldwide. For instance, when you take your coins to a Coinstar machine at the grocery store, you can be paid in the form of a Rixty game card. On average, users purchase Rixty cards for $50.

You can take that card home, enter the number on your account and add the currency so you can spend it on your favorite online game. A wide range of online game publishers from Bigpoint to Gameforge accept Rixty payments in their games.

Rixty is expanding overseas and expects to launch in Brazil later this year. The company faces a number of rivals such as Visa’s Ultimate Game Cards and Incomm, but no one has reloadable cards in the market today. The price for a personalized greeting card is $3.99. About a dozen game publishers are expected to participate.

Rixty has fewer than 10 employees. It raised $1.4 million in venture funding from Javelin Venture Partners, First Round Capital, and Softech VC.


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