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BeanJar is a new game awards company that launched in the last week, and competing today as a finalist in the startup competition at our GamesBeat@GDC conference in San Francisco.

The company’s goal is to create a rewards system for video games, giving real prizes to players for their accomplishments in a game.

The system works a lot like tickets at an arcade, but in this case, they’re called “Beans.” You get a certain number of beans for doing specific things in a game. Players store those beans, and eventually cash them out for coupons to buy real-life goods. Instead of the pointless toys you’d get at an arcade, though, BeanJar plans to work with real, brick-and-mortar stores to provide better rewards, from free drinks to things bigger and better.

The idea, the company says, is a win for everyone. For companies, they get to sponsor a game and get advertising in front of gamers, as well as bring new customers to come to their stores because free stuff is so compelling. For game publishers, signing up these sponsors is a better revenue stream than having to put annoying ads into games. For gamers, well, they get free stuff, all based on their location and preferences.

Other companies, like Yowza, SuperRewards, and JumpTap, have all tried a portion of this model, but tying coupons to rewards to video games is something only BeanJar appears to be doing. The real-world rewards is a particularly compelling point for game publishers, because it might make players play and care more than they would if the spoils of victory were only within the game itself.

BeanJar’s money comes from collecting a small fee every time a player earns a Bean for a particular retailer, and again every time players cash out their Beans to make a purchase. Those fees get shared between BeanJar and the game publisher.

The company has launched in beta, with one game and a few retailers available. The company is currently four people, and they’ve raised $375,000 for BeanJar.

Read all of our coverage from GamesBeat@GDC


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