Mobile Payments Deliver Big Hits for Mobile Gaming

October 7, 2015         By: Steven Anderson

For anyone who’s played a round of “Angry Birds,” “Candy Crush,” or anything similar for mobile devices of late, there’s good news afoot for you.

Very good news, in point of fact, because the means to keep mobile gaming up and running may just be on hand as mobile payments develops a new and excitingly relevant connection to this still-growing market.

One of the biggest problems when it comes to mobile gaming is figuring out a way to pay the bills. With so many mobile games available for a pittance, half a pittance, or even no pittance at all, keeping mobile game developers in sufficient pittances to keep the lights on and the rent paid is a difficult proposition.

More and more things are being tried, from advertising to product placement and beyond, but one thing that’s developing surprisingly well is microtransactions, a field that’s getting quite a bit of support from mobile payments.

The numbers speak for themselves; a report from Newzoo suggests that mobile gaming spending will hit around $40.9 billion, which will actually beat the level of console spending, just by 2017. But that’s not all the boost for mobile gaming; revenue from in-game purchases was around $2 billion back in just 2011, but by the end of 2016, that number will more than double, reaching nearly $5 billion.

Throw in the growth of social gaming like “Farmville” and the like, and the picture becomes clear. Mobile gaming represents a huge market and an even bigger potential opportunity.

With so many new opportunities to engage in gaming coming in, it’s easy to see where mobile payments technology could comfortably slot into that gaming, providing the necessary cash to keep the system up and running. Tying mobile payments to mobile gaming means it’s now even easier to press that “buy” button and keep the Smurfberries or Gems or whatever flowing.

Whether it’s new levels, new characters, or just an impressive new hat, mobile payments can pay for goods and services in the real world, so why not expand that out to the game world as well?

There’s one issue here, of course, and it’s already been seen to some extent: parent controls. If we make it easier to make microtransactions with mobile payments, are we likewise making it easier for kids to run up huge bills in otherwise free-to-play games?

This particular problem has meant some big trouble in the past, with some huge bills coming in to parents following the surprise revelation that Junior bought a whole load of in-game items. Back in 2014, Google was required to shell out $19 million by the Federal Trade Commission after finding that it was actually too easy to make purchases.

Google was also reportedly required to make it so customers couldn’t make charges without “express, informed consent.” Thus it’s clearly possible to make it too easy to make purchases, though it’s not exactly difficult to artificially add a few roadblocks suitable to putting some protection in against unauthorized purchasing.

This poses a great opportunity for gamers, and for game developers. With mobile payment systems involved, it’s actually a lot easier to add microtransaction systems to just about any game. That gives developers a revenue stream, and makes it easier to justify further development. That gives gamers more titles to enjoy, as well as more ways to enjoy the current titles for the low price of whatever the microtransaction of choice is. Only time will tell if it works out, admittedly, but the end result should still be worth watching.