Global games maker Square Enix delivers on growth ambition through digital payment data.

The video games industry has changed. From selling games through traditional retail, the online gaming revolution has seen online direct sales soar. Game publishers like Square Enix, the creative force behind some of the world’s biggest games, are now selling directly to millions of gamers worldwide through digital distribution and in-game purchases. This brings huge advantages, especially the potential to use expansive purchase data to drive competitive advantage.  How, then, did Square Enix approach this brave new world of digital payments to increase its international revenue? Here we explore its winning strategy.

Woman playing a video game

Levelling up pay and play puts Square Enix on the gaming leaderboard.

Square Enix is one of the world’s largest video game companies, with well-known franchises such as Final Fantasy (which has sold a whopping 175m units worldwide), Lara Croft, Hitman and Deus Ex under its belt. Its games sell in their millions across the globe, and it has created legions of fans. Responding to changing gaming habits, Square Enix’s business has morphed, and so has its payments strategy. 

Now, a new approach has delivered soaring revenue, including for in-game purchases.

“Worldline helped us to solve one of the biggest challenges in the switch from retail to online games. With much more data coming in you have to make sure you’re asking the right questions, and understanding what the data is really telling you. Then you can make real game-changing decisions. With Worldline Insight we have access to a huge amount of valuable data, but importantly we now know how to put it to work.”

Simon Protheroe, Online Development Director, Square Enix

Data delivers a winning strategy. 

Since its inception in 2003, Square Enix’s business has changed significantly. Where boxed games used to be sold into a network of partners, it now sells directly to millions of gamers worldwide through digital distribution and in-game purchases.

This new business model means Square Enix generates enormous amounts of live data about the performance of its games, from in-game behaviour to purchasing habits. However, as this change took hold it was unsure how to organise this data to analyse, interpret and use it effectively.

For Square Enix, monitoring player behaviour to improve its games is fundamental to its success. However, one of the most important performance indicators is the number of players that eventually convert from those who casually use free online games to paying customers. 

To understand this transition, Square Enix knew it needed to improve understanding of the payment funnel and any bottlenecks. Optimising conversion through data was the name of the game!

It was time to put payment data to work. Now, a new approach has delivered soaring revenue, including for in-game purchases.

Pressing play on actionable data.

To answer this challenge Square Enix turned to WL Insight, a comprehensive business intelligence solution that analyses online payments and chargeback data. Transforming unstructured payment data into visual dashboards, Square Enix now had the power of insight in its armoury, driving decisions that impact the bottom line. 

“One key advantage Insight gives us is a view of other companies’ data. It allows us to benchmark our aggregated data against others, and that’s where the real value is. For instance, Insight shows us what payment methods we are missing per country and the opportunity they represent.”

Simon Protheroe, Online Development Director, Square Enix

For video game companies like Square Enix, WL Insight delivers a wealth of actionable data, using one of the largest sets of payment data in the world. Now, it can benchmark performance against other top performers to gets ahead of the game. It’s like having a window into other playbooks to make sure you are always one step ahead. 

Not only that, but we also give Square Enix the power to accept online payments from all over the world, using locally preferred payment methods. No matter where the fan accesses their new favourite game, upgrading their paid experience is seamless. As a result, the company has continued to level up its international game.

For example, Worldline Insight showed Square Enix that 60% of gaming revenue in the Netherlands, generated by competitors, came through the payment method, iDEAL. By not offering iDEAL, potential revenue was being left on the table. Insight has closed the gaps.

New dashboards reveal further insights such as "which chargebacks should I challenge?’" "at what step in the payment process are transactions most likely to fail?" and "what are the key trends in the refund behaviour of my customers, by country and payment product?"

This all adds up to a top-flight game plan. 

“Worldline Insight gives us clear, actionable business intelligence on which to base decisions, rather than conjecture. If you have the humility to listen to what the data is really telling you, rather than look for data to support your assumptions, you will find opportunities that you wouldn’t have expected. And when you have that data, don’t limit your thinking about what you can do with it. Business Intelligence isn’t just about growing revenue, it is also about lowering cost and exposure to risk.”

Simon Protheroe, Online Development Director, Square Enix

Clear, actionable business intelligence. Delivering a winning strategy.

  • Performance data is now organised across 8 key performance areas and 39 individual dashboards.
  • Trends, patterns and opportunities for optimisation can now be easily identified and acted upon.
  • Issues that need attention and crucial insights are made clear and actionable. 

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