Payment Industry and Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, Some Interesting Trends

The history of MMORPGs or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games spans nearly three decades. Games such as Lineage and Kingdom of Winds dominated the MMO world towards the end of the millennium. This success was emulated by Ragnarok which boasted 25 million subscribers after its release in 2002. Ragnarok, produced by Gravity Corp. took Asia by storm. Maple Story had similar success. Games such as World of Warcraft, Aion, Rift, Everquest Online and recently Guild Wars 2 have attracted a vast number of active players.

The MMORPG community has grown into a formidable force and will continue in that manner according to a report by global payments service provider, GlobalCollect. So What does this mean for the payments industry? A lot, actually.

GlobalCollect had published a report on the MMORPG market in July 2013, highlighting payments and trends.The  research is based on GlobalCollect’s extensive gaming transaction data. It also includes data from Newzoo, an international gaming market research firm.  The data covers millions of transactions per quarter and represents more than 170 countries.

Some of the significant findings: 

  • MMO games will account for $14.9 Bn, or 21.2%, of global gaming revenues in 2013. 
  • The Asia Pacific region (APAC), which is now the largest games market in the world, generates 36% of global game revenues, but accounts for an unprecedented 64% of MMO revenues. 
  • GlobalCollect’s top 16 MMO growth countries (Q1 2012 vs Q1 2013) each belong to the APAC or LATAM region. 
  • Top growth country Malaysia grew by an unprecedented 121% over the past year, with Thailand growing by 104% and South Korea by 100% (based on GlobalCollect transaction volumes). 
  • The top 10 countries by average transaction value in video gaming transactions all come from Europe and the Middle East. 
  • Consoles remain the largest gaming segment worldwide but will shrink by -1% this year. Mobile gaming will see the biggest growth (+35%) followed by the MMO games market which will grow by +14% 
  • Northern Africa and Central America are emerging as hubs for video game fraud  according to statistics produced by GlobalCollect for transactions initiated in Q4 2102 resulting in a chargeback. 

“Knowledge is power, and our ability to provide our customers with deep insights into not only their own payments but into industry benchmarks as a whole is how we empower them to grow their businesses quickly around the world,” said GlobalCollect’s global market director for Video Gaming, Nathan Salisbury. “Actionable insights into things like key growth regions, consumer platform preferences and fraud trends help our customers focus their resources in the areas that will give them the greatest revenues.”

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Some interesting Findings from Newzoo Trend Report: 

  • In 2011, total US MMO games consumer spend will grow 3% compared to 2011 from  $2.5bn to $2.6bn. 
  • Americans spend 26M hours per day in total playing MMO games. 
  • Free-to-play MMO games take 47% of all money spent on MMO games in the US, up from 39% in 2010. 
  • Free-to-play MMO games gross more revenues than Pay-to-play MMOs in Asian (51%), European (53%) and Emerging markets (59%). 
  • The total US F2P MMO market has grown from $1.0bn to $1.2bn: +24%. 
  • Free-to-play MMO revenues for 7 key EU countries totals $1.1bn. 
  • 84% of American MMO gamers plays browser-based MMOs. Almost half of these consumers also play client-based MMOs. 
  • Emerging Markets Russia, Brazil and Mexico spend $0.4bn. Korea and China combined spend  $2.2bn on Free-to-play MMOs. 
  • Asia has the highest share of client-based-only MMO gamers with 24% for China and Korea combined. 
  • 37% of F2P MMO gamers prefer SciFi/Space themed MMO games. This is 35% for P2P MMO gamers. 

The most recent MMORPG that i tried my hand in was Allods Online, a Space – Pirates styled adventure. They had a cash shop in-game which let you purchase items for currency known as ‘gPotatos’. These gPotatos could be obtained by paying real money via Debit Card, Credit Card, Game Card or Phone Recharge.

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I have utilized a game item purchased via cash shop that renders me invisible, hence the translucent form. The guys in red were my enemies (yeah i got pummeled after taking the screenshot).  How did i buy the cash shop item? Simple. Inside the game itself there is an option known as ‘STORE’. Here a number of payment methods are displayed including Credit, Debit and PayPal. Well, I paid $10 through my VISA credit card and within half an hour, the gPotatos had been added to my account.

This combination of an in-game cash shop linked directly to a users preferred payment method in the game itself has very serious implications. I have seen some of my friends spends thousands to tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a year or two (time flies when you play an MMO) on a single game, without really noticing. Around 4 Million gamers play Allods Online, and even if a fraction of them top-up their gPots for $10 every month…well that is a lot of money. Imagine, a cash shop in every MMORPG in the world with this same method. Its already happening.

“Our work with GlobalCollect continues to produce indispensable information for gaming companies to help them make sound business decisions in a complex and constantly evolving marketplace,” said Peter Warman, CEO of Newzoo. Developing a deep understanding of this data and crafting a payment strategy around the insights it brings is critical to the success of international gaming companies. Entering our third year of co-operation, GlobalCollect and Newzoo continue to provide a rich source of intelligence on which to base smart decisions,” he added.

In 2012, GlobalCollect processed over US$14 Bn in transactions for more than 500 top international e-commerce companies and its revenue rose over 40%. The company says that it utilizes around 150 payment methods including all major credit and debit cards, direct debits, bank transfers, real-time bank transfers, eWallets, cash at outlets, prepaid methods, checks, and invoices. Currently GlobalCollect offers the following eWallets: PayPal, Webmoney, Skrill/Moneybookers, cashU, Yandex Money and Alipay.

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games and Bitcoin:

Island Forge: Island Forge is an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) that’s all about player-created content. You can Design islands and author interactive stories (with quests). Publish them to the world for everyone to play. Island Forge accepts Bitcoin payments for its virtual in-game items as well as donations.

Dragon’s Tale: Dragon’s Tale uses Bitcoins in the place of casino “chips”. Players can either import their personal bitcoin balance into the game or they can gather small amounts of Bitcoins that are given for free within Dragon’s Tale.

LeetCoin: LeetCoin provides a competitive gaming platform wherein gamers can battle each other for Bitcoins. It currently supports Counter Strike: Source, but the company says that other popular games (maybe Dota or League of Legends?) are in development. LeetCoin is legal in 36 out of the 50 US States, Canada, most of Europe, Asia, and South America.

Steambits: SteamBits.com enables users to buy Origin, Steam, Retro, Uplay, & Xbox 360 games (among others) with Bitcoins. Users need to choose their game, send Bitcoins to the provided address, and Steambits will send them the game code via email.

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Chiraag

Chiraag Patel is a Senior Reporting Analyst and the Editor of Bitcoin and Virtual Currency channels at Lets Talk Payments. He is an engineer with deep interest in MMORPG, Virtual Banking, Game Currency and Virtual Cash. Chiraag enjoys Reading & Blogging with focus on New Innovation, Technology & Startups in the Payments Space.
Twitter:@chiraagpatel21

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