Any slight itching I may have had to try out Nexon's MapleStory just went completely down the toilet. Today the company announces that prepaid Nexon cards will be available for purchase at 7-Eleven stores around the country, offering teens and 'tweens' a more convenient way to spend all of their parent's money on virtual frippery in any of Nexon's online games. Pretty nifty, until I read this:
An animated version of a 7-Eleven store and an employee will appear in the popular MapleStory MMOG. This type of integration is cutting-edge, according to Nexon. It brings relevant content to consumers and provides 7-Eleven with a new way to use virtual worlds to expand its marketing.
First off, calling a 7-Eleven employee 'animated' is being far too generous with the definition of the word. Secondly, this is not cutting-edge. This is cutting-stupid. It's one thing to run a 7-Eleven ad on the splash page. It is something completely different to create a virtual 7-Eleven store in a fantasy-themed MMO. Gah.
7-ElevenÂ® Brings Nexon America Game Cards To Teen, 'Tween Customers
Real Card Buys Kids Virtual Shopping Experience
DALLAS — November 29, 2007 - While most big news in the videogame industry revolves around the midnight launch of a hot, new game or the latest, greatest console to hit store shelves, 7-Eleven, Inc. is promoting a new videogame initiative that is less about hardware and software than it is about going on a virtual shopping spree.
One of the biggest global gaming phenomenons is the "Massively Multiplayer Online Game" (MMOG), a computer game that is capable of supporting hundreds or thousands of players simultaneously. The games are played on the Internet and feature at least one virtual world. MMOGs can enable players to cooperate and compete with each other, as well as interact meaningfully with people around the world. While many of these games are free to play, gamers can spend money to create the coolest avatar, a graphic or visual online identity.
7-ElevenÂ® stores and their 24-hour operation make it more convenient for the millions of MMOG fans to personalize their play with certain online games by offering the Nexon Game Card at its U.S. stores.
7-Eleven has an agreement with Nexon America Inc., the U.S. division of Asia's leading online games company, Nexon Group, to be the first convenience retailer in the United States to sell these cards. Gamers can use the prepaid cards to redeem virtual in-game items and accessories within the MapleStory, Audition and upcoming KartRider games produced by Nexon. The prepaid game cards available in 7-Eleven stores are sold in $10 and $25 denominations.
"We have a great assortment of prepaid cards and now we have one especially for 'tweens and teens who are the biggest fans of these online games," said Brad Haga, 7-Eleven senior product director for business development and services. "They're perfect for young people on a budget and should appeal to the SlurpeeÂ®-beverage crowd."
7-Eleven and Nexon worked with InComm, a technology firm that develops, markets and distributes stored-value gift and prepaid products, to add the Nexon gift cards to 7-Eleven's extensive services category. An animated version of a 7-Eleven store and an employee will appear in the popular MapleStory MMOG. This type of integration is cutting-edge, according to Nexon. It brings relevant content to consumers and provides 7-Eleven with a new way to use virtual worlds to expand its marketing.
"Offering these exclusive game cards is an important first for a convenience chain and massively multiplayer online (MMO) publisher," said John H. Chi, president and CEO of Nexon America Inc. "By partnering with 7-Eleven, we're able to reach a much broader audience than ever before. Many of Nexon's customers are teenagers without access to credit cards. Now they will have a more convenient option to getting the cards."
The Nexon Game Card can be used within any of Nexon's games, which are free to download at http://www.nexon.net. Players use an innovative cash shop system (called microtransactions), that provides the option to individualize Audition and MapleStory characters and create unique identities. These features are purely optional, and players can try out items in virtual dressing rooms before making a purchase. Items range from hip haircuts and stylish clothes in Audition to vibrant, colorful outfits and fire-breathing pets in MapleStory.
"7-Eleven is eager to offer more products and services for tweens and teens who have fun personalizing elements of these online games and interacting with other players around the world," said Haga. "The Nexoncards are a perfect fit for our prepaid product selection."
As the pioneer of the microtransaction, or Item-Selling business model, Nexon has sold millions of virtual items worldwide through MapleStory and other hit titles like KartRider and BnB: Crazy Arcade. In February 2007, Nexon America reported that North American players spent $1.6 million on 600,000 virtual products within MapleStory alone.