As physical social life came to a standstill during the pandemic, the gaming industry understandably experienced huge organic growth, bringing in $175 billion in 2020, a 20% increase from 2019. Even before the pandemic, the growth of video gaming as a pastime was apparent, overtaking the popularity of the film and North American sports industries combined.
Andrew Monroe is heading Gaming and Media for the Digital Commerce division of Worldline, a European leader in the payments and transactional services industry. With more than 15 years of experience in e-commerce and sales, Andrew has a deep understanding of the payments industry. He has managed teams in Fintech organisations in multiple continents, delivering customised solutions across different verticals and regions.
Here he explains why streamlined payment methods are important to attract a global gaming audience.
With the majority of games being purchased online rather than from physical retailers, which has become even more prevalent over the past year, and with many games including microtransaction or subscriptions, the need for a robust system that accepts both one-off and repeating payments is needed.
Payment strategy pillars
For gaming businesses to scale with and reap the benefits of this booming sector, there need to be three pillars to their payments strategy. Firstly, the activation of new products, being the initial payment of a product, either physically or online takes place. Then, comes the optimisation of payments processing, where the issuer must ensure that the payment for the activation and further downloads and subscriptions within a game are streamlined. Lastly, businesses should receive support for expanding into new markets, as to be able to sell games digitally anywhere in the world, without any barriers in place along the way.
Adapting to increased immersion
The way in which people game has changed as a result of the pandemic and gaming is now seen as a ‘social lifeline’, particularly for young people. This highlights the importance of gaming, therefore showing the need for businesses to adopt new payment methods in order to reduce the amount of ‘admin’ it takes to engage with a game.
With the dominance of online sales, activating new products has been made easier. The process is simple thanks to tokenisation, as once the card details are entered into Steam or the Apple Store only a few button-presses are needed to purchase a product. Developers will need to consider a full range of appropriate payment options when launching a product, knowing which payment options are used by their audience and which payment methods support the ability to be tokenised for frictionless future purchases.
A one-size-fits-all payment strategy
In recent years it has become increasingly common for major releases to be ‘freemium’ – free to play, but with features that can be unlocked for a price. For example, Fortnite uses this model: it can be played for free on every major platform, including mobile phones at one point, but players spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on cosmetic items for their characters that have no effect on gameplay.
This model is enabled by tokenising the card which incentivises one-off purchases and enables subscription models such as ‘season passes’ that are becoming increasingly common. Having trickled down from major publishers to small independent phone game developers, they have become one of the key ways in which players interact with games. Therefore, A payments strategy that accommodates one-off payments, subscriptions or DLC purchases, and any size of payments is becoming crucial for gaming businesses.
Catering to a global audience
It is important to understand how different markets around the world game in order to adopt the right strategy to cater to a global audience. For example, Indian consumers prefer microtransactions and in the US subscriptions are more popular. There are also major differences in how payments are taken and processed. In the US and Western Europe, the most common system payment method is credit and debit cards, while Indian gamers will pay via their phones.
Therefore, it is important that gaming companies consider cross-border and cross-platform payments in order to gain a global audience of satisfied customers. Presenting payment options in local currencies, using systems that are mandatory in certain areas like 3D Secure and ensuring that information like FAQs and receipts are available in the languages that your customers use are all vital elements of becoming a global gaming business.
Creating an engaged and satisfied customer
For gaming business to scale up, they must therefore pay attention to the ‘friction’ of their payments process, allow payments from multiple regions and through the payment methods that their customers use, and most importantly understand how gaming is changing around the world.
In order to do this, gaming businesses may consider reaching out to payment solution experts who partner with a major player in the industry to deliver the best experience for the game’s audience. These payment experts can integrate in-game payments, recurring transactions and handle a huge range of payment methods. In turn, the business will be able to focus on engaging a global audience.