Era of a Fintech-Driven Gaming Industry ￼
By Nicole Casperson
When the mobile video game “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” launched in the summer of 2014, it was just another side project of the Kardashian empire to generate some extra cash.
It turns out it was one helluva lucrative side gig – earning around $200 million in revenue.
While the game is free to play, users could access virtual styles like designer clothes and customized makeup, and reportedly about 5% of the game’s global users paid for these features.
By the second quarter of 2018, Kim K’s video game accounted for about 9.7% of the developer’s Glu Mobile in-app revenue, placing the game as its fourth most revenue-generating app at $8 million.
Kim Kardashian’s stint in the video game industry is just one example of how fintech and gaming intersect to generate a lot of revenue by building community and innovating payments.
The expansion of the gaming industry post-pandemic is expected to make the global gaming industry worth $321 billion by 2026, according to PwC’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2022-26.
In America, 60% of the population plays video games daily.
Gaming has captured such a large segment of the population, but you still might be asking:
“Nicole, where does fintech fit into the equation?”
Let’s start with equity. The gaming industry, like fintech, is mainly male-dominated. For example, women make up only 24% of game developers but 45% of gamers in the US.
So many women play video games, yet so few have a hand in their creation.
Fintech is modern technology to innovate the financial system and make it accessible to all – including 50% of the population, aka women.
Yet, few women have a hand in creating products, with women numbering just 6% of CEOs and 4% of CIOs/CTOs. Women make up 30% of the fintech workforce and earn 2% of venture capital.
For fintech and gaming, inequities result from a lack of representation and an overall culture problem within the industries.
But when the two industries come together, steps toward progress are possible.
Level the Playing Field
Lowering the barriers for game developers is a big step toward equity and leveling the playing field for everyone to build businesses in the gaming industry.
One fintech company is at the front of this mission.
Meet Xsolla, a company that, since its founding in 2005, is making it possible for anyone to run their own games business, just like they were one of the biggest companies in the world.
Xsolla accomplishes this by providing the financial tools game developers, and publishers need to operate and scale – no matter how big or small.
Today, Xsolla powers games such as Roblox, Epic Games, Twitch, Steam, PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS, NEXON, Atari, SEGA, Wemade, Streamlabs, and more.
Finance is an integral part of any online gaming platform.
Mainly today, thanks to a ton of culture shifts. Gone are when consumers have to commute to their local strip mall to enter GameStop and physically pick up single, hard copies. Instead, that process has shifted to entirely computer-based soft copies.
Now, the advantages of this include:
- More games for consumers to choose from
- Spotlight smaller developers (like women)
- Ability to improve the user experience through online-updates
One problem typically makes all the innovations in gaming less efficient: payments.
Fintech offers ideal solutions to this problem through financial services embedded in in-game platforms. But inequalities remain.
On the consumer side most 3rd party platforms distributing games only work with a few major payment methods found in major markets. This leaves players who are unbanked or from developing countries unable to spend on their favorite games.
On the business side, it is incredibly difficult for any company to navigate the increasingly complex web of digital taxes, regulations and compliance laws across the globe.
Fortunately, Xsolla can make things more equal by helping game developers:
- Sell games globally, reaching 200+ geographies with 700+ local payment methods
- Offload compliance and taxes to spend less time on back-end processes
- Stop fraudulent transactions and transfer the risks and liability from banks to Xsolla
Xsolla is the engine that powers verification charges or micro-transactions for game developers embedded in the games themselves.
For example, with Roblox, users are asked to verify transactions with Xsolla’s payment provider, allowing users worldwide to make secure payments.
Xsolla will create a micro-transaction on a user’s financial account (typically between $0.20 – $0.90). The amount of this microtransaction is the verification code that the user must enter in the form. So if their code is $0.44, they must enter 0.44 to verify the transaction.
And Xsolla offers these options through a variety of mediums, including:
- Mobile Games
- PC Games
- Funding to explore game investments and funding opportunities
- Web 3.0 to discover new game tech
The potential of blockchain technology and the synergies between fintech and gaming can take off.
Fintech is well-positioned to push the gaming industry further by opening access and education to decentralized finance, blockchain, and new payment systems.
For example, unlike traditional card payments or interbank transfers, cryptocurrencies don’t have extended processing times, making them ideal for instant transactions for gamers who want to play and cash out immediately.
Blockchain can also ensure that gamers benefit from increased privacy and security, reducing exposure to hackers and fraudsters.
Other payment methods, such as e-wallets and pay-by-mobile, have thrived within the gaming space – a valuable barometer for their potential adoption in other industries, such as online banking.
Gaming is another industry where we, as fintech leaders, can draw investment lessons to apply to other sectors set to be transformed by technology.
And with companies like Xsolla working to democratize the business of video games, so game makers can focus on making great content, there is potential to truly level the playing field so developers of any size have the tools to maximize their business globally and at scale.
It’s hard for developers to develop direct-to-consumer relationships with their players, so Xsolla stepped up and provided everything anyone would need to run their own games business, just like they were one of the biggest companies in the world.