With the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico dumping tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the ocean daily, social game developer Zynga is bringing its virtual goods fundraising strategy to bear. Partnering with the National Audubon Society, the pair are seeking to raise both funding and awareness of the crisis with a virtual item dubbed the “Gulf Coast Turtle” within Zynga’s popular virtual aquarium app, FishVille.
Offered for a limited time, and recently discovered by FriskyMongoose.com and Games.com, users can purchase the virtual pet for a cost of 25 or 200 Sand Dollars, FishVille’s virtual currency. With each purchase, 50% of all proceeds would go to the Audubon Society to help clean up Gulf Coast animals. To give an idea on tangible value, 25 Sand Dollars costs $5 while you can purchase 240 for $40.
In addition to the purchase, Zynga has also recruited common social game viral tactics to help awareness as well. Typically speaking, many social games containing a virtual space have random animals “appear” in the player’s game, which they are able to post it to their Facebook feed for others to adopt. One such animal has been a “lost baby Gulf Coast turtle,” whose primary purpose was to virally spread the word on how everyday social network users could potentially help combat the disaster.
Sadly, the purchasable Gulf Coast Turtle appears to be gone at the moment, but had only been launched last Friday (June 11th). Moreover, Monday still noted four days remaining to purchase and contribute. Hopefully, it will be back soon.
On a side note, this is not the first time Zynga has participated in such charities. Notable contributions of the past have been their partnership with World Food Programme to fight hunger in places such as Cameroon, its Sweet Seeds program that helped feed children in Haiti, and the sale of a number of virtual goods in the top titles of FarmVille, Mafia Wars, and Zynga Poker to send donations to aide in the recovery of the Haitian earthquake disaster. As a matter of fact, Zynga players managed to raise $1.5 million in less than a week for the latter.[Second image via FriskyMongoose.com]