Mobile Gaming Industry Philanthropy

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Mobile Gaming Industry Philanthropy

Charity events sponsored or hosted by the gaming industry is on the rise. Charities are beginning to understand the value of reaching the gamer demographic and gamers, themselves, enjoy being part of the philanthropic community. Millions of dollars have been donated to multiple charities through in-game purchases, marathons, and live gaming streams. Below is an overview of 7 articles detailing the role of the gaming industry in philanthropy.

The mobile games industry is coming together for One Special Day charity event

  • For the last four years, Special Effects has sponsored a one-day charity event that brings the mobile games industry to raise money to help people with physical disabilities play video games. The event has raised over $811,000 since it began in 2016.
  • Gaming companies that have participated in the event have included Supercell, Seriously, Miniclip, Playtika, Zynga, Space Ape, Rovio, Outfit7, Glu, First TouchGames, New Star Games, MAG Interactive, Dirtybit and Dot.
  • To raise money for the cause, each company donates the UK revenue from specific titles on the designated day. This includes revenue from in-game purchases from games such as Angry Birds, Clash of Clans, and Fastlane.
  • According to Seriously CEO Andrew Stalbow, “It’s been really gratifying to see the mobile community come together to support this work”

EA Kicks off Fourth Annual Play to Give Campaign, Hosts Building Healthy Communities Summit

  • From June 3 through June 9, 2019, Electronic Arts sponsored their fourth annual Pay to Play charity event. Throughout the event, players made direct contributions to three charities: United Nations’ HeForShe, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, and Ditch the Label. EA guaranteed a public contribution of $1 million.
  • Each of the three charities work toward promoting inclusion and fighting bullying online, especially within the gaming community.
  • In addition to the Play to Give event, EA games held its first Building Healthy Communities Summit on June 7th. The live event took place in Hollywood, CA and included over 200 gaming influencers from around the world gathered to discuss building healthy gaming environments through impactful actions.
  • According to Chris Bruzzo, Chief Marketing Officer, EA. “With the help of our Play to Give partners, we’re working to create safe and inclusive spaces where everyone can play. This year, we’re also hosting the first Healthy Communities Summit to bring together influencers and leaders across the gaming community to fight toxicity in games.”

'Geek philanthropy': the gamers raising millions through marathon live streams

  • The rise of video gaming marathons through live stream has benefited multiple charities over the last few years. Similar to old-school televised marathons, gamers stream themselves playing video games while encouraging viewers to donate to the chosen charity. Popular marathon events include Games Done Quick and Desert Bus for Hope.
  • Games Done Quick is a twice-yearly charity event that raises money for Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctor's Without Borders. In 2018, the event raised $2.1 million for the charity. This was a significant portion of the charity's $4.7 million total events proceeds.
  • One of the first streaming gaming events was Desert Bus for Hope, which began in 2007. The event is an endurance grind in which players drive a "slightly broken bus" on a round trip from Tuscon to Las Vegas and back as long as donations are coming in. The event has raised over $5 million since its inception. Proceeds have benefited Child's Play, a children's hospital charity. The event has evolved from small, humble beginnings to a major production requiring volunteers, donation handlers, payment verification services, and multiple platforms such as Facebook Live and Twitch.
  • While Games Done Quickly and Desert Bus for Hope are large-scale charity events, smaller events and individual gamer influencers are making an impact. For instance, Hbomberguy has an annual event that raises money for trans youth. In addition, the popular streamer Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg has raised "substantial amounts through live streams for various charities including Save the Children and the HIV/Aids support organization (RED)." In fact, charity streaming has become a PR move for some influencers as a way to gain profile views and corporate sponsors.
  • Twitch estimates that charity events broadcast on the streaming platform raised over $75 million between 2012 and 2017.
  • Charities are eager to partner with gaming brand charity events as these events tend to attract a younger audience base. According to Jeremy Wells, fundraising events manager for Médecins Sans Frontières, "Our average donor, historically, is in their mid-60s. And the average streamer is not." Additionally, a major concern of charities is retention of donors as most people do not sign up for recurring gifts. “But I see people every year giving their annual gift at Summer Games Done Quick, and that’s recurring,” says Wells.

How The Gaming Industry Wins High Scores For Charity

  • In 2015, Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds, teamed up with A World At School to encourage people to sign the #Upforschool petition. The six-level Angry Birds tournament ran on Facebook from June 29th to July 5th. A World At School is a global coalition working to ensure that every child has an opportunity to attend school. Rovio is not new to fundraising having already launched campaigns to raise money for Earth Day, child literacy, victims of the Nepal earthquake, and endangered animals.
  • Also in 2015, the chat-based game Palringo held a month long charity event to raise money for hunger. Called "Fish for Hunger", the initiative raised money for food aid programs around the world in partnership with Islamic Relief and Action Against Hunger. Four in-game charity fish were added to the game's fishing bot with 50% of all purchases going to the two charities.
  • Over five days in 2010 through its popular mobile game Farmville, Zynga raised over $1.5 million for disaster relief in Haiti.
  • The Farmville campaign inspired the creation of Playmob, a "cause marketing platform that integrates charity functions into games." From 2013-2015, Playmob has raised over $1 million for charities such as Oxfam, WWF and Cybersmile through titles such as Runescape, Bejewelled, and Madden.
  • According to Jude Ower, Founder and CEO Playmob, "Over the past six months there has been a huge change in games connecting to charity. It is not just seen as a ‘nice’ thing to do, it is essential for both giving back and for engaging. Games can tell a story and engage audiences at scale, with issues such as poverty, climate change and scarcity."

One Gamer Fund heard you liked video-game charities

  • In 2017, the IGDA Foundation and Global Jam Game partnered to launch the One Gamer Fund, a collection of charities operating under one banner. The seven charities are AbleGamers, Child's Play, Games for Change, Global Game Jam, IGDA Foundation, Stack-Up and Take This. The partnership was headed by Global Jam Game executive director Seven Siegel. Seeing the diversity in the number of charities in the gaming industry, Siegel decided it was time to join forces in order to bring about a greater good together.
  • The first event hosted by the collaborative fund was held in September 2017. Over one weekend, 50% of all money raised by Good Shepherd Entertainment on the Steam platform was donated to the One Gamer Fund. In addition, the fund collaborated with The Yetee, a t-shirt retailer that created t-shirts for the event. Proceeds from t-shirt sales were donated to the fund as well as donations from Twitch streamers via the platform's Tiltify fundraising tool.
  • Siegel is hoping that other gaming companies will see how successful the event was stating, "And they'll follow suit and they'll say, 'We should do this, too, and we should hop on board. We should give more to charity and work with charities more and diversify the charities we work with so that we can really impact gaming on all levels.'"

Gaming for Good: The Lifesaving Potential of a Global Community

  • The financial goodwill of gamers has been well-known in the gaming community having helped fund developers, esports, and increase prize pools. This financial goodwill has now extended into philanthropic endeavors with gamers coming together to support a shared cause.
  • This year, gamers have asked Blizzard Entertainment to add firefighter skins in its Overwatch game for in-game purchases with all proceeds going to fight wildfires in Australia. Blizzard has not committed to producing the skins, but it would not be out of character for the gaming company that created a limited-edition pink skin in support of breast cancer awareness in 2018.
  • Charity events are not foreign to Blizzard. The company sponsors the Call of Duty Endowment. In 2019, Blizzard provided $30,000 in grants from the Endowment benefiting non-profits in the veteran sector. Some funding for the Endowment came from the companies annual CODE Bowl which features well-known Twitch personalities, many of whom raised money through their own streams.
  • The Riot Game Social Impact Fund, founded in 2019, has already donated over $4 million to various causes.
  • Games Done Quick, which has successfully raised over $25.6 million for charity since 2010, had its most successful event earlier this year when it raised $3.1 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
  • Donor motives have been a frequent subject of philanthropic studies. While many are moved to donate by the "martyrdom effect," gamers seem to be more motivated by their desire to be a part of an agency. "The chance not to just be part of an event, but to influence it encourages a greater degree of altruistic behavior—however brief or sentimental that may be."

Going Live: How Nonprofits Are Reaching Younger Donors by Streaming Games Online

  • In 2009, a high-school student named Matthew Moffit raised $300 for Child's Play by streaming a 36-hour Zelda playing marathon. Later the same year, he and 10 friends raised $3,300 for American Cancer Society. Within a few years, the bi-annual event known as Zeldathon, had raised thousands of dollars for various charities and has now collected over $2 million.
  • In 2014, Moffit and friends raised $105,000 for Direct Relief, the largest amount to that date. Direct Relief took notice and hired Moffit in 2016 to help the charity run gaming events to raise funds.
  • Other charities have started to take notice as well. In 2019, Save the Children hosted its 4th Annual Gaming Tuesday. Since its inception, the charity has raised $350,000 through its gaming events. St. Jude Hospital has developed St. Jude Play Live that has collected $18 million since 2014. The site allows gamers to play their favorite games, such as Fortnite, League of Legends or Overwatch, while earning money for St. Jude.
  • Not only are charities getting involved, software companies are busy developing tools that allow donations through live streaming. Twitch uses the platform Tiltify which has processed over $80 million in donations. JustGiving is a British platform similar to Titify. It has been used in gaming events such as GameBlast18, to raise money for British charities. DonorDrive released a tool in 2019 that allows people to host live videos on their websites to raise money for charity.