In-game charging – Taking mobile gaming to another level

In-game charging – Taking mobile gaming to another level

Evanna Kearins

Evanna Kearins, director of marketing, Valista

One-off purchases and subscriptions have historically been the dominant pricing models for the gaming industry. However, with increasing use of mobile phones, the industry necessitates different forms of pricing models, which the mobile industry needs to take into account in order to leverage this growing market.

According to a 2008 Nokia study, multiplayer mobile gaming is increasing traction with 45% of mobile gamers already playing multiplayer games on their mobile phones at least once a month. Imagine if these could be translated into paid-for games.

Gamer evolution

From solitary gaming of the past where players game alone, to today’s community gaming where players regularly engage with groups of friends to play online or on mobile, the gaming world has notably evolved. This shift in gaming culture has meant that more people than ever are gaming.

According to Elspa, the games publishers’ association, the UK gaming market

is now worth over £4 billion. In line with this, there is now increased competition for retail space and with more players demanding frequent updates to games, games creators need to change the way games are marketed and sold in order to maintain their attention

Yes, already there are a number of options available to gaming vendors. These include adding subscription models to the game so add-ons can be purchased or ‘freemium’ models, with customers paying for additional services within the game as they play.

All these models rely on the player making small, low value payments to update their game, rather than the traditional large value, one off payment of £39.99. Although these options are traditionally only available for internet gamers, increased use of mobile phones presents a clear opportunity for mobile service providers, gaming companies and payments specialists to work together to support in-game purchasing for mobile.

In-game purchases and in-game economies are now being used in the online world. These are key pricing models that the mobile gaming industry will also be seeing growth over the next few years. In-game purchases provide recurring revenue and an expanded customer base to include casual gamers. The concept of in-game charging increases revenue from casual gamers by giving them the option to play with little or no up-front costs and instead paying for digital goods and assets whilst playing the game. These include access to different levels, special features or clothes for an avatar.

Many gamers today are young and may not have ready access to a credit or debit card. This locks them out of games if these are the only payment methods available. However, what most players do have is a mobile phone which could be used for billing, especially if the game is mobile device-based.

In-game purchasing needs to be done in such a manner as to not interrupt the game flow or incur a high transaction cost. To make it successful, the payment must be kept within the game to ensure continuous play, which means mobile operators must be able to support direct-to-bill charging. Directto- bill allows micropayment transactions to be reflected on the user’s mobile bill as opposed to an SMS-based payment, which breaks the game flow.

 

Making charging work

The best way to understand this growing trend is to use an example. When a game producer creates a new game, players typically roam a virtual world to discover them, earning points which entitle them to alternative clothing, weapons, food, tools, pets, and more is typical. Once they have a large number of add-on items, they can journey to the next level of the game where the process repeats. Rather than being sold in a retail store, the game additions are made available with a fixed monthly subscription fee.

Alternatively, the player can accumulate points which can be used to pay for items within the game. The game producer may choose to allow players to top up their points to a certain level using a payment of £0.01 per point purchased. Alternatively, the game producer may introduce a new weapon that will be available to players who are willing to pay an extra £1.00 for early access. Both these models allow players faster access to items within the game in exchange for additional revenue for the game producer and for the mobile service provider.

With the increased demand for more advanced games, all this makes for a much more exciting gaming experience. For the game publisher, it represents the opportunity to generate additional revenue streams by providing gamers with new channels to play, whether via their mobile phones or the internet. This is crucial to keeping mobile users entertained and keeping them at the top of their game.

Valista provides a complete digital commerce experience through a suite of platforms and managed services, enabling multi-channel payments, settlement and service lifecycle management.

 
World Wide Web visit http://www.valista.com/
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