Back on March 29 of last year I wrote an entry about an article by Phillip Torrone of MAKE: Blog that discussed the possibility of seeing credit cards in the very near future that would give you virtual rewards in your favorite online game. One possibility mentioned was a World of Warcraft Visa card that would give you 1% cash back in the form of gold in WoW and might also allow you to put an image of your favorite WoW character on the card. I included a mock up of what such a card might look like created by the MAKE: Blog folks as well.
Then I get an email out of the blue on March 16 of this year from a Sandy Lee Belshe who’s signature identified her as working for Visa U.S.A. Inc. Brand Management. The email itself was short and to the point:
I need to you to remove that Visa card image that you posted on your blog. Can you please do this and let me know when it’s done? Here’s the link.
Sandy Lee Belshe
I sent back a reply asking why and if there were any modifications I could make that would make it OK to keep the image and the fact that many, many other blogs outside of mine were still displaying the image in question and it wasn’t long before I got the following back:
Hey Les, Thanks for your quick response.
In short, it’s a trademark issue. You don’t have permission to use our mark and a card that doesn’t exist shouldn’t be shown graphically in a way that implies it does. Not to mention there are a number of elements on the card that are incorrect. I’m not sure that Blizzard would be happy with this card graphic either.
I wish we could say that with a few adjustments that you can keep this card art up, but unfortunately, it’s not possible. As you said, the entry is a year old so I’m sure hardly anyone would miss it if it was removed.
I’ll follow up with the folks who manage the link you forwarded below as well.
Sandy Lee Belshe
Now I’m no lawyer, but it seemed to me that if I removed the Visa logo from the card it should be OK as the only other images on it were a screenshot from World of Warcraft, which I know for a fact Blizzard doesn’t have a problem with people using, and the Blizzard logo which could also be easily removed if necessary. Not being a lawyer, however, and not wishing to have SEB get hit with a DMCA take down notice or something equally stupid over an entry I wrote over a year ago, I went ahead and removed the image from the entry. Looking back at the MAKE: Blog article today I notice that they also heard from Sandy as while the image is still there the Visa logo has been changed to a fictional ASIV logo which pretty much confirms my thoughts about the issue. I didn’t bother to mention all this silliness at the time it happened, but it did leave me wondering if this was preparation for something about to occur as I couldn’t see any reason why Visa would suddenly be worried about a mock up of a WoW Visa card after it’d been all over the net for about a year.
And it turns out my hunch was right as Blizzard has just announced today a World of Warcraft Visa Card. Which looks like the image you see over on the right. Seeing as this is a real card and I’m writing about it I think I’m in the clear for using that image this time around.
Alas this card doesn’t come with the option of earning you in-game gold as a reward for your purchases but rather it earns you game time at the rate of 1% of every dollar in qualifying purchases. It also doesn’t allow you to put an image of your own character on it, but there are 13 different images to choose from for your card. You also get a free month of WoW after your first purchase on the card, an introductory 0% APR for the first 12 “billing cycles”, and there’s no annual fee.
That sounds cool and all, but it occurs to me that at 1% of every dollar spent with the standard monthly fee being $14.99 that means you’d have to spend $1,499.00 to earn a free month of WoW. And that’s only on qualifying purchases, whatever the hell that means, so there could be things you’d buy that wouldn’t count towards free game time. I suppose if you’re the sort that uses a credit card almost all the time and manage to keep it paid off every month then it might be worth it to you, but I think I’ll pass on it myself.