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3 Takeaways for Online Game Developers from Monetization Day at GDC

By: Jeremy Coker
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As the excitement from Games Developer Conference (GDC) winds down for the year, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the event. In addition to inspiring talks and the always vibrant expo floor, there were some great networking events, which gave us the chance to catch up with friends new and old (it was GDC number 11 for me!).

This year, we hosted and sponsored our seventh Monetization Day. This day provided attendees focused insight on the latest in online games trends and monetization strategies, which this year included how to capitalize on the virtual commerce revolution, protect games and players from fraud, and increase online revenue.

Some of my personal takeaways from our panelists include:

  1. Virtual and augmented reality are already disrupting the games market, and there is massive opportunity for innovative developers to conquer this space, beyond just gaming. Although it will be big brand developers who bring general awareness — i.e. what Pokémon did for AR — smaller developers will be the ones to determine the full scope of opportunity within these technologies.
  2. There is no silver bullet for fraud protection. Fraud threats, once solely focused on stolen credit card data, have grown to include attacks on your virtual economy, grey market resellers and stolen player data. And as your defenses improve, fraudsters improve their attack methods. It’s critical that you choose an ecommerce partner who does more than process payments. Your partner must have effective fraud prevention tactics and experienced fraud prevention staff in order to layer your defenses across technologies and teams.
  3. Publishers and developers need to understand that successful monetization strategies go beyond just accepting payments from customers. To be successful, an online and free-to-play game needs to become a “game as a service” with a multiyear life cycle. Publishers must evolve their billing and payment tools to embrace this new service, and develop strategies to maintain their communities. Frequent updates, being generous with the amount of free content you give players, and establishing an emotional connection with your audience are important strategies to extend the life of your game.

A special thank you to all our panelists for their participation and insights: Tim Merel, founder/CEO, Eyetouch Reality and Digi-Capital; Matthew Cook, co-founder, Panopticon Laboratories; Lee Gould, director, global fraud management, Sony Interactive Entertainment (PlayStation); Alex Nichiporchik, CEO, Tiny Build; Scott Williams, senior product manager, Digital River; Meridith Braun, vice president, publishing, Digital Extremes; Paul Chen, head of business operations, Linden Lab; and Jamy Nigri, global head, commercial development, payments and video strategy, Wargaming.

Overall, it was another great year at GDC. We’re excited for the amazing new content developers are working on, and the advancements in tools that is making it possible to get to market faster and more cost effectively. We’re also looking forward to continuing to work with online games companies to provide enterprise class commerce and payment solutions that engage their customers and manage their in-game economy.

Learn more about how Digital River helps online game publishers build monetization strategies, customer engagement and commerce capabilities.