I think we can all agree that 2020 was a great year to be in another world.
With our prospects for a physical social life being severely restricted throughout the pandemic, gaming experienced huge organic growth: the industry brought in $175 billion in 2020, a 20% increase from 2019. Our own Gaming and Media division outpaced even this meteoric rise, posting a high score of 25% growth over the year.
Even without the lockdown, video gaming has been growing in popularity as a pastime, surpassing the film and North American sports industries combined. With the overwhelming majority of games being sold online rather than from physical retailers, and with games increasingly allowing microtransactions or subscriptions there needs to be a robust system for accepting one-off and repeating payments. For gaming businesses to scale with and reap the benefits of this booming sector, there need to be three pillars to their payments strategy:
- Activation of new products: the initial payment to buy a product, whether this is done through existing stores (Steam, the PlayStation Store, etc.), app stores or directly from a developer.
- Optimization of payments processing: ensuring that the payment for the activation and any further purchases of downloadable content (DLCs) and subscriptions is fast and worry-free.
- Support for expanding into new markets: gaming is a worldwide phenomenon and there shouldn’t be inhibiting barriers to selling games digitally anywhere in the world.
Let’s look at each of these three pillars in more detail:
A more immersive future
The pandemic hasn’t just increased the amount of gaming but changed the way we game as well. Gaming has become a ‘social lifeline’, particularly for young people. We can see now that games are genuinely important to people from all walks of life, and businesses need to treat them as such by reducing the amount of ‘admin’ it takes to engage with a game.
Activating new products has been made much simpler than it has ever been thanks to the dominance of digital sales over physical. These sales are extremely simple for consumers: thanks to tokenization, once your 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 tokenized for frictionless future purchases.
Although games that are purchased once, sometimes even in a physical format, still exist and can be profitable, it is becoming increasingly common for major releases to be ‘freemium’ – free to play, but with features that can be unlocked for a price. Epic Games’ Fortnite is a major case in point here: 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.
Again, this is enabled by making payments virtually invisible after a card is tokenized, incentivizing one-off purchases and enabling subscription models such as ‘season passes’ that are becoming common amongst major titles. These models have trickled down from major publishers to small independent phone game developers, and in a few short years have become one of the key ways in which players interact with games, especially in markets where phone as opposed to console or PC gaming is the norm. A payments strategy that allows for full flexibility of business models, whether one-off payments, subscriptions or DLC purchases, as well as size of payments is vital to a modern gaming business.
Unlocking the right strategy to engage active global gamers
Worldline’s success has come largely from our partnerships with major brands, helping them to process a greater volume of payments during the surge of activity during the pandemic. We also leveraged our extensive knowledge of how different markets around the world like to game: Indian consumers prefer microtransactions, 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.
In short, any company serious about the video games market needs to consider cross-border and cross-platform payments. 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.
Delivering what gamers really want
Considering the above, it’s easy to understand that if you want your gaming business to scale up you need to pay attention to the ‘friction’ of your payments process, allow payments from multiple regions and through the payment methods that your customers use, and most importantly understand how gaming is changing around the world.
As a partner to some of the biggest players in the global video gaming industry, we know how to deliver the best experience for your audience. We can integrate in-game payments, recurring transactions and handle a huge range of payment methods. With our deep expertise and robust infrastructure, you will be able to focus more on scaling your business and engaging gamers around the world.
If you would like to know more about what Ingenico, a Worldline brand, can do for your gaming business, don’t hesitate to contact me at Andrew.Monroe@worldline.com
For more information, please visit: https://www.ingenico.com/digital
Andrew Monroe, Global Head of Gaming & Media- Digital Commerce at Worldline Global
Andrew Monroe is heading Gaming and Media for the Digital Commerce division of Worldline.
With more than 15 years of experience in eCommerce and sales, Andrew has a deep understanding of the payments industry. He has managed teams in Fintech organizations in multiple continents, delivering customized solutions across different verticals and regions.
Before being appointed as Head of the vertical, Andrew was General Manager for the North America region, Head of Business Development for North America, Head of Business Development, EMEA and Head of Account Management, EMEA for Ingenico ePayments. In each of these roles, he has increased clients’ revenues and created seamless payment experiences for consumers.
Andrew is an active speaker in the payments arena, giving presentations at technology summits, leading webinars, and educating professionals around the world. He shares Ingenico’s commitment to knowledge-sharing initiatives and has co-authored white papers on market analysis and strategy, and led case studies with high-profile companies, such as Levi’s and Rail Europe.
He has a BS in Business Administration with concentrations in Finance and MIS from North Carolina State University and an MBA from TIAS School for Business and Society. He lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife and three kids and enjoys running and doing yoga.