The Further Diminution of Station Cash and Additional Intrigue

Daybreak Games announced yesterday that they would cease selling physical game cards for Daybreak Cash (which I am going to call Station Cash from here forward out of habit/tradition) or All Access membership effective last week.  The cards should have been pulled from stores as of September 26.

Soon to be gone

Soon to be gone

Naturally, in the grand SOE tradition, ads for these cards are still all over the various Daybreak game web sites despite the order to pull them from shelves.

Probably not coming to Target now...

Probably not coming to Target now…

Should you find such a card still on the rack at your local WalMart, because there is always somebody who doesn’t get the word, their ability to be activated will cease on November 8, 2016.  After that date they will just be colorful bits of plastic.

If you have an activated card, you can still redeem it for the foreseeable future, likely in part because California state law does not allow companies to expire or invalidate gift cards that customers have paid for.

The timing of this is… if not interesting, at least worth a moment of thought.

Daybreak sending out the word to pull Station Cash cards off the rack a full week before they announced to customers that the cards would be going away was not accidental.  They clearly wanted to get at least some of the cards off the rack before they told people.

But why?

There are downsides to such cards.

The cards have a bit of a checkered history, being one of the sources of Station Cash that helped devalue the currency back in the day with “Triple Cash” deals for redeeming cards and the inevitable bonus cash that WalMart demanded its customers get.

TripleSC01

Triple your take!

As a revenue source, Daybreak has to share a cut with the retailer and the card processor so, as Blizzard would rather you buy digital direct so they don’t have to share the loot, so Daybreak no doubt wishes you would just buy straight for them and leave them with the cut the middleman would otherwise take.

Then there is the accounting annoyance of such cards.  When a customer buys the card you cannot claim it as revenue until it is actually redeemed.  You have to carry that money on the books as an obligation.  In one of those way that accounting goes from measuring reality to becoming reality, you get the money and can spend the money, you just can’t claim the money towards revenue or profit.  But that likely doesn’t apply if Daybreak straight up sells you the Station Cash, because that transaction is done and you have your virtual good and/or service right away.

On the upside, those cards were low effort sales.  Somebody else has to ship them, put them on the shelves, ring them up and so on.  Daybreak just has to redeem codes and keep the accounts at their end.

And, of course, these cards are how players who do not have credit cards can buy Station Cash and All Access for their accounts.

So why kill them off?  If they were not selling enough, removing them from the shelves THEN announcing they were going away doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Doing it the other way around might have gotten them an injection of cash as people who wanted/needed to use them rushed out to pick up a few before they were gone.

And killing them off doesn’t end the accounting hassle.  That goes on for a while because you already have  this ecosystem of cards and some percentage always go missing and never get redeemed.

For this, I think we have to go back to a bit of news almost two weeks in the past, the announcement that one of Daybreak’s games, H1Z1: King of the Kill, was no longer going to use Station Cash and would be getting its own virtual currency with the generic name “Crowns.”  Not “Daybreak Crowns,” just “Crowns.”

So while Connor over at MMO Fallout attributes this to possibly more Daybreak financial woes, I wonder if this portends further changes at the company.  They have cut one of their games out of their Station Cash herd and now they are shutting down a somewhat passive revenue stream without trying to give it a final, farewell milking.

Are we looking at the start of some sort of splitting up of Daybreak into smaller, perhaps more saleable parts?  The Crowns announcement started people wondering that.  Does the retail card cut further that?  Is this another preparatory move, or just Daybreak trying to simplify their business?

Anyway, the announcement and brief FAQ is available here.

3 thoughts on “The Further Diminution of Station Cash and Additional Intrigue

  1. bhagpuss

    I also think this is a further sign of the kind of preparatory housekeeping that precedes a sale. Which is something that could be good or bad for the players, depending entirely on who ends up buying. On the other hand it could just be literally tidying up. SOE let the whole business become a tangled mess, or so it appeared from the outside, and DBG/CN have clearly been working on untangling the knots and smoothing out the threads ever since they got their hands on it.

    Since it was always next-to-impossible to get SOE/DBG game cards in the UK anyway it’s all a bit notional to me. I was a lot more interested in Feldon’s report of the livestream for the expansion. I’m often out of synch with the EQ2 playerbase on this kind of thing so maybe there will be the usual round of griping and moaning but to me that looks like a really excellent feature set. I never buy premium editions but some of those add-ons are making me half-consider it. I’ll be pre-ordering, no question.

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Actually, where I wrote “Probably not coming to Target now…” I am probably mistaken. The glacial pace of web site updates at SOE/Daybreak probably means they were available at Target, but they never bothered to update the “coming soon” bit.

    @Bhagpuss – The cards didn’t mean much to me, even when I saw them on the rack, though I had a couple of friends go out to get the WalMart cards for the special currency destroying bonus cash. Somebody out there is probably pissed though. I’d go read the forums to see who if I wasn’t feeling even more lazy than usual.

    As for being out of touch, I probably rank pretty high in that regard. I did take my level 95 character boost and will go run through some more recent content at some point. Maybe sooner rather than later, given my mild interest in WoW Legion. I don’t dislike it, but I am not feeling any compulsion to do all the things either.

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