In 2005, Sony Online Entertainment became the object of widespread derision when it let players order from Pizza Hut via in-game commands in EverQuest II. Nowhere was the mockery louder than at Blizzard Entertainment, developer of World of Warcraft, EQII's archrival in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game space. The Irvine, California-based developer/publisher even played an April Fools' Day prank satirizing the Pizza Hut function by posting a fake page about how players could order Chinese takeout in WOW.
This week, though, Blizzard set itself up for criticism of a harsher variety. The company has struck a first-of-its-kind gaming-banking deal with First National Bank to release a World of Warcraft Visa card. Much like the credit cards that offer frequent flyer miles for each dollar's worth of purchases, the new WOW Visa will give players of the MMORPG free play time for their consumption with the card. After receiving a free month of WOW for their initial purchase, players will receive "game time at the rate of 1 percent of every dollar in qualifying purchases." That means for each $1 spent on their WOW Visas, players will get $0.01 credit toward their $14.99 monthly subscription fee. Rewards are awarded through a points system.
Naturally, WOW Visa cards will be emblazoned with art from the game. Several themes were featured on the official site of the card--which accepts online applications--including blood elf, dwarf, and paladin themes. In total, 13 different WOW designs are available.