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The cat video game “Stray” brings some advantages to real cats

The cat video game "Stray" brings some advantages to real cats
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NEW YORK (AP) — The virtual feline hero of the new video game sensation “Stray” isn’t just swinging along rusted pipes, leaping over unknown mud and deciphering clues in a seemingly abandoned city. The bold orange wheel also helps real-world cats.

Thanks to online fundraising platforms, players play “Stray” while streaming live for an audience to raise money for animal shelters and other cat-related charities. The game’s publisher, Annapurna Interactive, also promoted Stray and offered two copies of the game for a raffle to two cat rescue and adoption agencies and rented out a New York cat cafe.

Playing live for charity isn’t new, but the resonance “Stray” quickly found with cat lovers is unusual. The streaming platform said it was the fourth most watched and streamed game on Twitch the day it launched.

Viewers watch as players navigate the adventurous feline through an aging industrial landscape, doing normal feline tasks—balancing on railings, navigating keyboards, and knocking items off shelves—to solve puzzles and avoid enemies.

According to one of the creators, about 80% of the game’s development team are “cat owners and cat lovers,” and the real-life orange street, as well as their own cats, helped inspire the game.

“I certainly hope that maybe some people will be inspired to help real passers-by in real life – knowing that having an animal and a companion is a responsibility,” said producer Swann Martin-Raget of BlueTwelve game studio in Montpellier, southern France. .

When Annapurna Interactive approached the Nebraska Humane Society about partnering before the game’s July 19 launch, marketing specialist Brendan Gepson said, they jumped at the chance.

“The whole game and the whole culture around the game is all about cat love,” Gepson said. “It fit very well with the shelter and our mission.”

The shelter bought four copies of the game to give away and asked for a $5 donation to enter a raffle to win one. In one week, they raised $7,000, the vast majority of the 550 donors were new to them, including people from Germany and Malta, Gepson said. The company also donated $1,035 to the shelter.

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“It was really mutually beneficial,” Gepson said. “They got really good PR and we got a whole new donor base out of it.”

Annapurna also bought out New York cat cafe and adoption agency Meow Parlor for the weekend and donated $1,000. Visitors who made reservations could purchase Stary-themed merchandise and play the game for 20 minutes surrounded by cats. (The game also enchants cats, videos on a social media show.)

Jeff Legaspi, director of marketing at Annapurna Interactive, said the launch of the game “makes sense to have a positive impact and hopefully bring more awareness to adopt and not buy a new pet.”

Annapurna declined to disclose sales or download figures for the game, which is available on PlayStation and Steam. However, according to Steam DB’s Steam monitor, it became “Stray”. Yes, yes. 1 game purchased for the last two weeks.

North Shore Animal League America, which rescues thousands of animals each year, said it has seen no increase in traffic from the game, but is getting more of them. $800 thanks to the player.

By a happy coincidence, the shelter had created a profile on the Tiltify platform that allowed non-profit organizations to receive donations from video streams the week the game launched. The player sent a donation to the shelter, smashing his initial goal of $200.

“We see Tiltify and live streaming as a whole new way to engage a completely different audience,” said Carol Marchesano, senior director of digital marketing at Rescue. Typically, organizations have to contact online personalities to coordinate live streams, which can be a lot of work.

About nine campaigns on Tiltify feature the game “Stray,” said Michael Wasserman, the company’s CEO. JustGiving, which also facilitates charity live streams, said it has identified two campaigns with the game.

In turn, Gepson, of Nebraska, reached out to Omaha resident TreyDay1014 online to host a live stream for charity. Trey, who asked that his last name not be used, has two cats, one of which he adopted from a shelter.

Last week, he told the audience He watches live on the Twitch platform while his cat character taps another cat’s tail and dances along the railings.

“If I knew my cat was doing that outside, I’d be pissed,” said Trey, as the character jumped from a dangerous distance. A few minutes later, the rusty pipe broke and the tabby gurgled into the darkness.

“That’s a poor baby,” Trey said sadly, “but we’re okay.”

The fall was followed by a $25 donation, and the amount raised by Trey for the Nebraska shelter topped $100 in about 30 minutes. At the end of the four and a half hour game, donations totaled $1,500. His goal was to raise $200.

“It opened my eyes to being able to use this platform for better things than just playing video games,” Trey said.

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AP business writer Matt O’Brien contributed to this report.

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Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations is supported by funding from the Lilly Endowment Inc. through AP’s partnership with The Conversation US. AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP’s charity coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

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