Growing your market share and gamer engagement is intrinsically connected to securing accounts and transactions.
Conquering every game is a trait all gamers share — no matter the age, marital status or nationality. Passion for the game surely keeps increasing year-over-year, with no sign of abating.
There are many things to be optimistic about in the (virtual) world of gaming. Including online gambling, social and online gaming, video streaming such as Twitch, and game platforms such as Xbox and Nintendo, a variety of platforms – as well as themes – attract different demographics and tastes. But it’s not all about active users: According to Newzoo’s annual Global Games Market Report, 2.3 billion gamers across the globe will spend $37.9 billion on games in 2018. This represents an increase of 13.3% from the year before, or $6.2 billion. Digital game revenues will take 91% of the gaming global market with $125.3 billion. Mobile gaming will continue to be the largest segment following 10 years of double-digit growth, reaching an estimated $106.4 billion in 2021.
The growth prospects are propelled by a substantial increase in new users, as well as re-activating dormant gamers. These increases are due to giving players a reason to come back. New strategies designed to bring back gamers by creating new forms of interaction, such as social gaming and even in-game appointments (which send out a message — push notification or SMS — to remind players to join/log-in at certain times of the day), boost active usage and, as a consequence, in-play revenues.
However, despite the increasing growth prospects, not everything is positive for gaming brands. Where there’s money, there’s fraud, and the gaming industry’s growth has attracted a wide range of fraudsters, both large and small.
According to Threatmetrix’s Gaming and Gambling Cybercrime Report, account creation is the most vulnerable part of gamer’s journey, with one in every twenty new account creations being fraudulent. In fact, automated bot attacks can account for around 50% of daily gaming and gambling traffic during periods of peak attacks.
Account takeovers (ATOs) are also common. Fraudsters target accounts with advanced capabilities, special strengths/ powers or large amounts of game currency and then "sell" those accounts over and over to unsuspecting, legitimate players. Chargebacks are a natural consequence of having accounts credentials stolen.
Hence, growing your business while protecting your gamers should be a priority. But how do you enable secure engagement in gaming? Here are a few ideas.
Increasing in-play interactions and purchases
The gaming industry is built on repeated business, motivating gamers to come back. Increasing in-play engagement is crucial for monetization, and that’s where the gaming market has proven to be very creative.
The gamification journey should allow users to celebrate higher levels and conquests, provide in-game challenges, accumulate and spend virtual gold and conquests, provide timely notification on game status and update users on friends who have joined. For active gamers, these simple strategies keep them hooked, while for occasional players, tactics such as in-game appointments can drive them to play the game.
A strong, proactive communications strategy plays a key role here. One of the easiest ways to keep growing is to offer opted-in users the latest odds, updates, and even betting confirmations quickly, to promote real-time interactions and purchases across games.
Various communications channels can be used to engage players, from push notifications to SMS and even email. The crucial aspect is to define which channels are best used in what situation and use case; push would naturally fit gaming apps, while SMS provides value in online and social gaming, as well as being a great fallback to email and push when the user has disabled it on their app.
At the same time, engagement is only complete if security is part of the game.
Ensuring fair play
The online gaming industry deals with low-cost transactions that need to be approved in real time so as not to interfere with the gaming experience. At the same time, a fierce competitive drive among players creates an ecosystem prone to questionable purchases, takeovers of valuable accounts, and many other fraud threats.
Gaming companies should take fraud prevention and proactive authentication seriously. A streamlined user registration is crucial to deter fraud. Matching the gamer profile with a phone number enables the company to get rid of fake account bots as well as to understand user behavior. A few gaming brands — such as WorldGaming — have already taken action; they’ve recognized the issue with fake accounts and have implemented phone verification with SMS messaging.
Down the road, gaming apps and sites should scan the phone number periodically as well as ask the user to authorize access, especially if the user aims to access in an unknown location or device; this can be achieved with a simple one-time code via SMS or push notification. Such a process curbs account takeovers by enabling players to be aware of unauthorized access, especially occasional gamers who do not pay attention to their gaming profiles regularly.
A password reset process is imperative to allow users to gain access to your service with minimal disruption. Having the account linked to a phone number helps users recover accounts in case of simple password loss. Gaming brands providing this option to users need to request the phone number preferably at the registration point, allowing the account to be linked with a mobile phone number. This helps enterprises to automate password resets by utilizing a second-factor (or 2FA), such as SMS or voice.
Keeping all of these security processes as user-friendly as possible is fundamental, avoiding that additional security steps disrupts the gamer experience.
Further growth for gaming lies on secure engagement
Providing a fantastic experience to gamers should have a holistic approach. If a gaming company focuses only on providing fun notifications to users but does not take seriously any fraud-related inquiry or issue, it is likely to drive players away.
Online gaming companies, just like most digital brands, are reluctant to implement security to their customer journeys, afraid of how disruptive authentication would be to their bottom lines. User experience is one of the pillars for gaming growth, and therefore efforts in secure engagement should be to avoid disruptive or annoying notifications (too many fun notifications can also hurt the customer experience). If 2FA measures are not in place, however, players are more likely to interact with bots, have their account taken over and their virtual valuables and credit card details stolen. The fact is, the threat of cyber fraud these days is too large to ignore. And once fraud happens, gaming brands are likely to see a massive increase in churn — and a decline in their bottom line.
The best practice here is to consider security and customer engagement as one flow, a holistic process that integrates security into customer experience. To do this, gaming companies should look at authentication with the same strategic focus they place on engagement strategies. Only with this approach can they up their game.