With the ever increasing popularity of the “world wide web” and it becoming accessible to a larger portion of the population, the online entertainment segment of the e-commerce industry has been gaining momentum at a rapid pace. One very significant portion of the segment is taken up by online gaming in all of its forms –from low-budget, easy-to-get-into games, to triple A, multimillion game titles, most of which represent the mass multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG) genre. All of these can turn into very successful businesses if developed and marketed correctly. But getting the final product and running a successful marketing campaign are just half the work. A really important factor is choosing and implementing the most appropriate payment system for the particular game genre. The most widely applied payment systems in recent years are those based on tokens, in-game currency, cash shops and subscription.
Free-to-play aka Pay-to-win
There is rarely a person nowadays who has not at least attempted to get into one of those games which all of his/her friends play on Facebook, or on their mobile/tablet devices. Almost all of these games market themselves as free to play (F2P). But what they employ is a lucrative system aimed at generating as many as possible low-value transactions. They usually offer the players a “shortcut”, generally costing a given amount of tokens, or any other in-game currency such as gold, points, you name it, in order to gain fast advantage over the rest of the player-base. These in-game currencies are, of course, priced at different packages. They may be bundled by 10s, 100s, 1000s, or sold separately. This is defined by many as pay to win (P2W), and a lot of people feel negatively about it, nonetheless, most of them still resort to it, following the old maxima –if you can’t beat them, join them. Thus the game publishers generate a reasonable revenue, which then can be reinvested into the longevity of the game, retaining their player-base and attracting new players.
Another often applied system is that of the cash shop. It is usually used in games which are generally F2P but the player can customize the appearance of their characters and make them unique by buying different skins, items, vanity pets, etc. for real money. Again the ticket sizes are not large, and the companies rely on the fact that players would utilize this service at least a couple of times. The cash shops are very popular in the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) type of games. The MOBAs are currently the backbone of the professional gaming community. An iteration of the cash shop is the so called real-money auction house (RMAH). The real money auction house is generally used in online role playing games (RPGs), especially those centered heavily on the items found in-game. The trick here is that the companies let the players sell items to one-another via the auction house devised specifically for this. They set the minimum and maximum ticket size, which may go up to a couple of hundred dollars, and let the players bid for the items found and posted by other players. After a successful auction, the company receives a cut from the final price (10%, 20%, etc) and a transaction fee is also charged to the player. The rest of the amount goes to an e-wallet belonging to the seller.
Last but not least, another major monetising scheme in the online gaming world is the subscription-based system. This system is generally applied to MMORPGs. The very structure of these games makes the subscription-based model attractive. They usually take a lot of time and commitment by forcing players to do the so called “grinding”. This is a simple and repetitive task, which takes hours upon hours of playtime. It may be in the form of doing in-game quests, or different chores–mining ores, cutting wood, and everything else one may come up with in a vibrant open online world. These activities lead to in-game achievements, which on their end make the player feel more powerful and accomplished. Since the developers usually put high grind requirements on the most sought-after items and prizes in the game, they guarantee themselves that if their product is well-polished the players will gladly pay a modest amount of money on a monthly basis (usually between 10 and 20 dollars). On top of that, reputable MMORPGs also have a lot of social interaction in them. Players form groups, and even guilds. All these aspects lead to them being very addictive and if new content is fed to the player-base on a regular basis, companies may have huge success with them. Most popular MMORPGs also utilize the token and cash shop systems on top of the subscription-based model.
If you are a company seeking to enter the online gaming market and are looking for any of the above payment solutions or other, eMerchantPay could offer you the payment model which best suits your needs.