For many, the gaming community is this underground type of place. Who the gamers are, and where they exist seems to be unknown. But they are a strong and mighty community, as can be seen when it comes to charity campaigns. Blizzard announced that an Overwatch campaign for breast cancer research raised $12.7 million in just two weeks. Two weeks! That’s almost a million dollars a day. So when I say that the community is mighty, that might have been an understatement. It’s enormous. Like I said, though, if you’re not a gamer, the gaming world doesn’t seem tangible.
Overwatch is an extremely popular team-based shooter game that wins many over with its solid gameplay and its character design. We should also point out that the gaming community is incredibly diverse in terms of demographics, which is why Overwatch came up with this campaign. For a limited time, players could purchase a special “skin” or 3Dmodel for the character Mercy. Mercy is the most powerful healer in the game, so this made the most sense. Mercy, however, isn’t their most interesting character, but that is the choice that they made. And it worked out for them.
Special skins are highly sought-after, and while many can be obtained through in-game loot boxes, they can also be purchased. In this case, the price was set at $15, rather high for a skin but clearly that didn’t deter players, who shelled out by the thousands for both it and related t-shirts. In two weeks, approximately 750,000 people paid $15 for a virtual item. And as I said, all of the money is going to the Breast Cancer Reseach foundation.
What might be the bigger news story with this is two-fold. The first is how people can come together in order to raise money for a good cause. I always see campaigns on TV or online where the fundraisers say things like – if everyone just gave some spare change, they could make a difference for the cause. And they’re not wrong, but at the same time, it feels like we are always being asked for money for one cause or another. It’s hard to not want to give all of your money away, but most of us aren’t Bill Gates. I wish, but that’s not the case.
The other aspect to this is that Overwatch isn’t the only gaming company to raise money for charity. Games Done Quick regularly raises millions and Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play got so big that it had to be turned into its own thing. Child’s Play recently announced a round of grants funding pediatric hospital equipment and staff. Which is incredible. Does this mean that Blizzard will have more campaigns like this? While the answer to that is unknown, I think in general this could be the new way to “target” people – for lack of a better word.
I mean, look at Apple’s (RED). A portion of the proceeds goes to a non-profit in order t help fight HIV and AIDS. We no longer send money to an organization in order to help their cause, the benefits are being impressed into technology. Where will this go? Who knows, but it’s a great way for the company to show their philanthropic side, and a great way to raise money for different causes.