Your Virtual Visa Debit Card and Buying Video Games Online

virtualvisadebitrbcIf you’re like me, then sometime during the past few months, you might have received a “Virtual Visa Debit” card, such as the one from RBC Royal Bank illustrated at the right. Its purpose, as described at the upper-right of its face, is “for online, phone, and mail order purchases,” drawing the money for the transaction right from your bank account.

It’s a handy little thing to have, and great for making purchases from Amazon, Indigo, eBay, TicketMaster, and many more. Naturally, with the shift towards downloadable games, downloadable content, and more from the video game industry, it seems like a good way to purchase the latest game from the Nintendo eShop or the PlayStation Store, doesn’t it?

Well, not so fast; it may seem like it, but is unfortunately a little more complicated than that.

Whereas you can use your own Visa (among other credit cards) in order to purchase downloadable goods from such shops, you’ll only receive errors if you try to purchase from Nintendo or Sony. This is because, despite carrying the Visa branding, the card is only accepted at a relatively small (as of this writing) number of online retailers.

In the field of downloadable video games, these are the only ones listed currently: Amazon, Blizzard, Electronic Arts, GameHouse, PopCap Games, ROBLOX, and Valve Software. You can find the full list of accepted online merchants as it currently stands and grows here, but noteworthy omissions include Nintendo, Sony PlayStation, Sony Online Entertainment, and even Apple’s iTunes, no doubt among others.

Speaking with an RBC Royal Bank representative on the phone, I learned that these other outlying retailers have “never set their systems up for it.” Simply put, they may accept Visa, but they don’t accept this Visa.

So, what can you do? As a consumer, there is only so much one can do, but perhaps the best thing in this case is to simply express interest. For Nintendo, I’ve been told that our best bet is to contact their Consumer Service line at 1-800-255-3700 and let a representative know that you would like to be able to use your Virtual Visa Debit card to make online purchases through their various eShops. Generally speaking, they should make a note of it and pass it along– and results will hopefully come a little more quickly than, say, wishing to purchase Earthbound for $8 on the Virtual Console.

Sony is a more difficult beast, however. Upon speaking with their customer service representatives, I learned that you have to mail them to express your interest. Not e-mail– actually write a letter, place it in an envelope, lick a stamp, and stuff it in a mailbox. Should you be willing to put in the time and effort to tell them that you would like to give them more money with greater ease, I was told that one would do so by sending their correspondence to the following address:

SCEA (or Sony Computer Entertainment America, if you wish to be proper about it)
Attn: Correspondence
PO Box 5888
San Mateo, CA 94402-0888
USA

These are two of the big ones, but if you would like to tell any others to “shut up and take my money,” then be sure to look up their contact information on their website (if they have any good sense, it should be there) and find out how to best express your interest, assuming you can’t just pass it on through them directly.

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David Oxford

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you're interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

  • Shelby

    Haha, that’s exactly what happened to me today!