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Game provider adopts arcade-like payment

/ Source: The Associated Press

Remember how easy it was to spend a roll of quarters on arcade games? Soon, some online gamers will be able to similarly play "Bejeweled" or "Zuma" at 25 cents a pop.

WildTangent Inc. introduced on Wednesday its "WildCoins" currency system for online game play. The Redmond, Wash.-based company will use the new micropayment method for its own gaming site; PopCap, HipSoft and other sites that also specialize in casual online games have signed up, too.

Instead of paying, say, $20 to WildGames, to download and own one of its games, users could just drop in and play the game online, using a 25-cent WildCoin.

Unlike the arcade games, though, a token will keep the game going as long as the player keeps playing — even if the game ends and the player starts over.

"It's an all-you-can-eat buffet, per game," said Alex St. John, CEO and co-founder of WildTangent.

St. John predicts the system, to be available late spring, will open new revenue streams for online game sites and game developers. Although many users play free demos of games offered online, usually only 2 percent of the visitors are willing to pay a lump of money to own the game, he said.

Advertisers also will be to capitalize on the growing online gaming market by giving away WildCoins as part of promotions, St. John said. Coca-Cola Co. will be among the first companies to do so.