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Atlantica Online’s Charity ‘Drive’ Fails. Child’s Play Refuses Money

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Quick history lesson for this story. A while back Ndoors, the guys behind Atlantica Online, introduced an item in their cash shop called ‘Acong’s Stocking Stuffer’ for the holidays. Since it was the holidays and people were supposed to be in the spirit of giving, Atlantica Announced that they would be donating “a portion of the proceeds” to a charity called Child’s Play (A charity centered around gamer’s giving back). Sounds like a great idea, right? Players who want to enhance their character’s in game can do so while at the same time donating to charity. The idea sounded great, but apparently Ndoors got a bit greedy.

Many Atlantica Online players complained when they learned through an official statement that Child’s Play would only be receiving 5% of gross revenue. This was announced after many players have already made their purchases in the game’s cash shop. Just to put things in perspective – an $80 purchase would result in a $4 donation, which feels a bit sleazy because the main selling point for this particular cash shop item was that it was for charity. Many players, including those that don’t normally buy cash shop items in free to play games, made purchases thinking that much more than 5% of their spending would go to charity. Let’s think about it for a minute. How much does a ‘Acong’s Stocking Stuffer’ in the Atlantica Online cash shop really cost Ndoors to make? Zero. It’s a virtual item! Ndoors should have announced exactly how much of the proceeds would be going to charity along with the announcement of the event.

What comes next is a big slap in the face for Ndoors. Child’s Play, the charity that Ndoors was going to give the 5% to, basically said, “We don’t want your money.” This is an enormous slap in the face, especially when a charity says it. What’s worse is that in the same official statement (Linked in the last paragraph), Ndoors basically says that they tried to do something nice, but a few players who complained ruined it for everyone.  All of this sort of looks like Ndoors tried to profit by hiding the important details of their charity drive until after players have already spent their money. Personally, I think this will hurt Ndoor’s image quite a bit – especially since all of this occurred during the holidays when people were supposed to be ‘giving’ rather than trying to make a quick buck. Ndoors did announce that they will be looking for another charity to work with – so at least the money they raised will still go to charity.

To be fair though, I want to cover both sides of this story. Even though 5% isn’t ‘a lot’, it’s still something. Ndoors didn’t have to donate anything to charity and yet they did. It could be argued that they did so entirely to boost their own revenues – but even so – it’s still something. They made a lot of stupid mistakes though – namely, not being upfront about what percentage of their proceeds would actually go towards charity until after the fact. My point is though people would have spent money in their cash shop regardless – so the fact that they still donated something is still commendable in my book. I don’t think many other free to play MMORPG publishers did anything to ‘give back’ during the holidays.

By, Omer Altay

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