Jul. 27, 2020 11:24 am

Through PIF^2’s social impact mobile game platform, users are playing it forward for charity

This NJ start-up raises money for charitable organizations via ad revenue and in-app purchases users accumulate by playing mobile games.

You can show your prowess vanquishing zombies while raising money for a nonprofit benefiting veterans by taking part in a PIF^2 game-a-thon Aug. 17-23.

(Courtesy graphic from the ARZombi app)

From the comfort of their home to tens of thousands of viewers, video game streaming over platforms like Twitch has become an innovative way for the industry’s top talent to earn money from playing video games.

Fans can tune in, watch for free and donate to support their favorite streamers through a subscription or one-time donation model.

PIF^2, which bills itself as “the first social impact mobile game platform,” follows a similar model to live-streaming, but allows a younger demographic to take matters into their own hands and earn money for charity through ad revenue and in-app purchases derived from their playing of mobile games.

The New Jersey-based start-up (pronounced PIF Squared, for Play it Forward and Pay it Forward) was founded this past fall, CEO Brendan McNichol said. They partner with charities to host game-a-thons, which are virtual events lasting around a week where users download the featured app to their phone or tablet, play the game and earn money for a good cause in the process. When the game-a-thon ends, charities are cut a check for up to 50 percent of the revenue generated.

“There was essentially a gap in this market space to support charities in a new manner to raise awareness and create another communications channel, and then engage the younger demographic of followers and donors,” McNichol said.

Many charities are reliant on donors participating in fundraising events or visiting their website to make donations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, those organizations which normally struggle to entice younger donors are now also struggling with their traditional fundraising models.

Many individuals are living paycheck-to-paycheck or struggling to put food on the table, but PIF^2 allows them to give back in a way that’s meaningful to that person and the charity, McNichol said.

The apps offered now through PIF^2 are created by indie developers, who receive a cut of revenue. In the future, the startup hopes to develop their own games in-house, increasing the amount of money given to charity, McNichol said.

McNichol also envisions incorporating elements of the charity partner into the game’s interface. This could include embedding health facts, statistics and prevention measures in a game geared towards childhood cancer.

PIF^2 is in the process of establishing a foundation for revenue generated outside of game-a-thons to go to technical initiatives, like teaching young people coding, and gaming and software development.

From our Partners

What could be more surprising than a zombie bursting unexpectedly through the door? How about raising money for charity as you game? (Courtesy graphic)

In one of their next game-a-thons, supporting the Nine Line Foundation, working to assist wounded veterans, users can battle zombies using the app ARZombi and raise money for the organization from Aug. 17-23.

Like Twitch’s growing community, the booming esports industry hosts events that attract gamers and thousands of their fans to dedicated arenas (like this one coming to Philadelphia). Those types of large-scale events are going to be increasingly challenged during the pandemic.

“We’re trying to create something where that type of environment would be possible in a virtual sense, but then accomplished anywhere,” McNichol said.

He added: “So, you don’t have to be behind a computer, you don’t have to be in the same room with somebody, but you can sit on the train with a mask on and tune into a game-a-thon supporting your charity.”


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