Wonga Future 50: PlayMob

One of the weirder traits of online gamers is that they are prepared to pay real money for virtual objects. Five quid for a hammer of Thor? Bargain!

Jude Ower believed she could harness this behaviour for altruistic ends.

Her firm PlayMob connects these virtual objects to charities, so gamers’ cash goes to good causes. Also, the gamers receive a notification of where their cash has gone. For example, in its first campaign for SOS Children, players in the game Parallel Kingdom bought a “Soup Can Hat”. The currency was converted into real-world cash for SOS Children. The gamers were informed that their cash had gone to help children in drought-stricken Kenya.

The brilliance of the idea brought Ian Livingstone (life president of Lara Croft maker Eidos Games) as chairman, and the firm has hoovered up angel investing from a number of backers, including NESTA.

With more than seven billion hours spent annually on virtual world games, the impact the PlayMob concept could have on charitable giving could be considerable.

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