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Capcom Visa card aims to cash in on player loyalty

February 16, 2009 |  9:59 am
Capcom VISA
Capcom's new Visa debit cards. Credit: Alex Pham  /  Los Angeles Times.

Trying to give its gamers a charge, Capcom plans to start offering Visa debit cards on Tuesday. The Japanese developer, which owns popular game franchises such as Resident Evil, Street Fighter and Megaman, is betting that fans will pony up $9.95 for the card and a $4.95 monthly service fee in exchange for loyalty rewards.

Capcom isn't the first game company to issue affinity cards. Blizzard Entertainment has been offering a World of Warcraft Visa to its 11.5 million players. When card users make purchases, they accrue points that can be used as credit toward the online game's monthly subscription fees.

The Capcom program will let customers apply rewards toward purchases of T-shirts and game memorabilia on its website. Unlike the WoW card, Capcom's debit card requires users to load it with cash before it can be used at ATM machines or with merchants that take Visa. To make the card more attractive, Capcom will also allow cardholders priority access to nightclub events surrounding the launches of its games, like the one it threw in L.A. last week at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The company said 4,000 people showed up at the event, but only 2,500 were able to get in.

"The card can be the secret decoder ring for fans to get into the Capcom treehouse," Capcom spokesman Chris Kramer said.

We've all heard of affinity cards based on universities, professional associations or clubs. Why not games? Who knows, gamers may hold the key to solving the bank industry's woes -- right after they gun down some zombies.

-- Alex Pham

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