Video Game Industry Helps Raise Money For Japan's Earthquake Victims

In the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that destroyed parts of Japan, numerous video game publishers have stepped up to help raise money for the victims, partnering with charitable organisations to help the country rebuild.

PopCap announced a weekend long sale on its iPhone and iPad games. Beginning Saturday, March 19 at 12:01AM PT and ending at midnight PT on Sunday, March 20, PopCap’s iPhone and iPad games will cost $0.99 and $1.99, respectively. The list includes such hits as Bejeweled, Bookworm, Chuzzle, Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies, with all proceeds going to Japan. [Full story]

Electronic Arts, the publisher behind the popular Madden NFL franchise, will match employee donations and send funds to the Red CrossMercy Corpsand AmeriCares. The EA Canada campus, in particular, teamed with Kids Against Hunger to pack meals that will be sent to Japan.

Finally, EA will implement the option to donate in several websites, including Battlefield HeroesThe SimsUltima OnlineFIFA Ultimate TeamPogo and Playfish.

Direct2Drive also stepped up with a promotion where every game purchased results in $1 going to the American Red Cross. The deal runs through March 21st. On top of that, the company will take 20 per cent off its entire library of first person shooters this weekend, with such titles as Homefront, Bulletstorm and Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition to choose from; buyers must use the code SPECWAR5 at checkout.

Then there’s Masaya Matsurra, the creator of the PlayStation smash hit, Parappa the Rapper. The famous game designer teamed with OneBigGame and Save the Children to donate sales from his latest iPhone and iPad game, WINtA; the game is free to download, and users purchase songs. The money will go towards creating safe havens for children; the program runs for a month, and began March 17. To download WINtA, click here.

Japan will also receive help from Sega. The popular Japanese publisher lowered the prices of its Sonic the Hedgehog iOS video games, and will send all of the proceeds (including those from Football Manager Handheld) to the Red Cross. The sale ends Monday, March 21 at 12:00AM PT.

Mastiff, meanwhile, plans to use social networking to raise money. For every 100 people who like the company’s Facebook pagebetween now and the end of April, it will donate $100 to the Red Cross, up to $25,000. 

Even the media banded together for a great cause. Publishers Square Enix, Capcom and THQ joined with the website,GameZone, to auction off various pieces of merchandise. Interested gamers can also contribute through Play For Japan, which keeps a running track of current and future promotions, including one by Farmville creator, Zynga.

Expect more news on the relief effort in the days ahead.

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