Typical credit or debit cards offer incremental rewards for purchases—frequent flier miles, cash back, etc. American Express and Riot Games will offer a debit card that returns points for in-game purchases in League of Legends, the New York Times reports.
The arrangement will be announced Wednesday, says the Times, and the incentive currency it returns are Riot Points, which unlock characters and extras in League of Legends. It's a debit card only—not a credit card—and someone who signs up for it and puts $20 into the account will get 2,000 Riot Points, with bigger incentives for linking it to a direct deposit account.
The arrangement is meant to "expand our traditional reach beyond the mass affluent," an AmEx executive told the Times. The exec said it's become harder to reach 18- to 24-year-olds who don't spend as much time as older generations consuming traditional media like television.
The Times spoke to a Consumers Union rep—they're the people who publish Consumer Reports—who warned that linking games incentives to spending behavior could increase the "addictive quality of games."
Prepaid debit cards, as I have complained vehemently, years ago, also carry fees for withdrawals and balance inquiries, and unless you buy something that completely expends your balance there's always some portion of your money sitting there on it, unused.
AmEx Links a Debit Card to an Online Video Game [New York Times]