These days, almost everyone is a gamer. From teenagers immersed in the latest multiplayer video game to their parents playing Candy Crush or Pokemon Go on their smartphones, gaming is a phenomenon that has won over people of all genders, ages and demographics.
All of this makes online gaming a hugely exciting sector. But, while some truths hold for all types of eCommerce business, the gaming industry is a special case, with its own rules, opportunities and challenges to navigate. From fraud risk to online bullying to the challenges of selling to a global audience, there are many factors gaming companies must take very seriously into account. At the same time, the industry is also a very forward-thinking sector that is often an early adopter of new technologies (think blockchain, for example).
Wherever there is growth, there is also opportunity.
According to Newzoo, there are now 2.2 billion gamers worldwide and by the end of 2017, they generated USD 108.9 billion in game revenues. That means the industry grew by 7.8% in a single year and this increase shows no sign of slowing down.
Since mobile and other forms of digital games are bought online, this means that payments and eCommerce play an increasingly important role. Micro-transactions have been part of the business model for online and smartphone games for some time now. Many games are cheap or even free to play initially, but the additional features, game enhancements and virtual goods have to be purchased as the game advances: with real money. This is when payment methods come into play.
Research conducted by SuperData indicates that PayPal is the top digital payment method among global gamers. Credit cards also enjoy very high popularity. However, in countries such as Brazil and China, users have requested alternative payment methods they know and trust, such as eWallets or prepaid cards.
Gamification has become a popular strategy in fintech in recent years. Payment industry players talk about the importance of “gamification” as a way of using techniques popularized in video games. The purpose is to create engagement, encourage customers to develop financial habits and increase conversion rates by applying game-play elements to the payment process. This elements can include scratch cards, slot machines, a wheel of fortune and the list could go on. Here is an interesting example, offered by Belgian startup LuckyCycle. According to tests performed by the company, merchants can boost conversions by up to 15% with gamification.
Wherever there is opportunity, there is also hurdle.
Many of the major challenges facing companies in the gaming industry – be they creators, vendors, marketers or media – is a lack of trust. The gaming industry sometimes gets a bad reputation as a kind of “Wild West” of the internet, where things like transparency and accountability are an afterthought. It is not without good reason. Who can forget all the stories about not-so-savvy children accidentally (or not) spending thousands of dollars on their parents’ cards for in-game purchases?
Whatever their reasons, they have one important thing in common: they want to be immersed fully into the world of the game until they choose to leave it. That means it is the gaming companies’ job to make sure that as few things as possible interrupt that experience.
It’s all about the user experience
Customer experience is key in keeping customers not only satisfied, but also happy. The same holds true for the gaming industry. Whether we are talking about pay-to-play, subscription or a download-to-own gaming business, customers will always expect an uninterrupted gaming experience.
To achieve that, gaming companies need to make it easy for users to find a game, sign up, download it as required, and make a payment. They need to streamline the process so that people can purchase in-game items without hassle. And, more importantly, to make sure that they do not hit a wall when they want to pay.
It also means that eCommerce providers will need more and more effective ways to process payments quickly, without interrupting gameplay. They will need reliable payment processing platforms that are fully integrated, secure, as unobtrusive as possible, and tailored to the needs of many different audiences around the world.
May the force of frictionless payments be with you.
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