Digital gaming has become an increasingly popular pastime for consumers of all ages, from the cultural dominance of games such as Fortnite to the Among Us craze that hit mid-pandemic.
More individuals than ever are turning to their gaming consoles, laptops or smartphones to find new games and interact with other players from around the globe. This has made digital gaming a social activity as well as a hobby, Felix Thé, vice president of product management at video game software provider Unity, said in a recent PYMNTS interview.
“The biggest change we’ve seen — and specifically during the pandemic — is that gaming is a more social experience than ever before,” Thé said. “Specifically, there is a growing player demand for cross-platform multiplayer games, where players are driving for connection across platforms and systems. We believe this trend will continue.”
The rising popularity of online and mobile gaming also creates challenges for gaming developers, especially as the market’s expansion begins to attract bad actors in addition to legitimate gamers. Ensuring the consumers flocking to digital gaming platforms are who they say they are and safeguarding the personal and financial information they share from fraudsters is imperative — and implementing robust digital identity verification is central to doing so.
Keeping digital identity verification smooth during the microtransaction age
Gaming platforms are focused on protecting today’s gamers as they clamor for interconnected experiences, but Thé said they cannot do so at the expense of the experience. Finding the right balance between seamlessness and security is of paramount importance for developers, especially as more games begin to incorporate payments. These include low-volume microtransactions that allow consumers to turn real money into gaming coins or buy key in-game features.
“The biggest thing gamers want — even outside of payments — is simplicity and uninterrupted gameplay and experience,” he said. “With microtransactions, every click or search for card information has the potential to create abandonment. App stores have really improved since their early days by supporting digital wallets with biometric authentication, which allows consumers to have ready access to payment methods.”
Thé noted that Unity is tapping two-factor authentication (2FA) measures to protect developers’ accounts capabilities, and that these also must be extended to players. Implementing emerging authentication technologies such as biometrics can ease friction, but developers also must be sure they are paying close attention to how they are protecting payments data. Developers that wish to accept payments directly from gamers can do so on self-run websites, Thé said, but this requires the individual developer to ensure transactions are compliant with standard financial requirements across multiple markets, such as Payment Card Industry standards or revised Payment Services Directive data security rules.
“For perspective, approximately 80,000 games are created every year, and the vast majority are from companies with under 100 employees,” he said. “Out of those 100, how many do you suppose are experts on payments?”
Making space for secure mobile payment
Digital gaming is becoming an increasingly popular form of entertainment worldwide, and many new gamers are turning specifically to their smartphones to find new games that connect them with others globally. Many of these individuals also adopt or experiment with new, mobile-optimized payment methods to match — a trend that developers must watch carefully.
“We also believe there will be increased internationalization in gaming, which will be highly applicable when it comes to the considerations developers need to make in payment solutions,” Thé said. “And as mobile saturation continues in emerging markets, we’ll certainly see new support for local digital wallets coming online to ensure consumer, and thereby player, access to online payment options.”
Gaming developers must continue to work on balancing the security and seamlessness that are critical to today’s gamers, even as they move to new channels and begin using novel digital payment methods. Implementing robust digital identity solutions that can smoothly and easily verify gamers’ identities and keep transactions secure will be a necessary task in the digital and mobile gaming space for years to come.