Game developers need a single, unified billing system to support today’s devices and monetize users across the globe. In this article, we summarize four key players in this monetization solution space as relates to multi-platform billing. More after the jump.
In the last post, I looked at 20 monetization companies that social game publishers should consider integrating into their games to better monetize their user base. In this post we look at some of the most cutting edge monetization solution providers and billing companies from a perspective of multi-platform billing across popular devices and how well they integrate within the gaming experience to lower the friction to payments. Both issues are important to consider as social gaming perforates our browser windows on to mobile devices and televisions, making it a ubiquitous part of our lives.
The four companies we are profiling in this article are: PlaySpan, Live Gamer, RubyCoins, and PayLetter.
Features Comparison Overview
There are many options in the market and no one provides all the components. These companies have chosen to focus and differentiate themselves with features they believe the market needs. The table below shows a rough feature comparison between the companies.
|Company||Cross-platform payment and analytics||in-game payment||Billing||Payment Aggregation||Marketplace|
|PlaySpan||Android (Ultimate Pay)||x||x||x|
|RubyCoins||x||Flash, Android, MMO||x||x|
Headquarters: Santa Clara, California
Year Founded: 2007
PlaySpan has done well to sign up many popular publishers. Their M-a-a-S (monetization as a service) platform has attracted the likes of Sanrio Digital, makers of Hello Kitty Online, and others. PlaySpan’s strength lies in the plethora of payment options that it makes available to users globally along with its comprehensive list of services, which we will not discuss in this article since such services do not relate to multi-platform billing. PlaySpan’s latest partnership with UltimatePay as a payment option to offer mobile gamers a one-click purchase experience certainly sets them apart. Integration takes between 2 weeks – 3 months depending on configuration.
- A leading payment aggregator with over 85 payment options in over 180 countries and relations with 70+ carriers
- Long-standing solution for the virtual goods market place (PlaySpan Marketplace)
- Their multi-game pre-paid card is one of the top 20 most popular in the gaming space and is available in 50,000+ retail locations across North America and few other countries world wide
- In-game payment on Android through Ultimate Pay
- $46.3M raised in funding
- Cross-platform solution purportedly in development, but not yet available
- Often charges users of the Playspan game card a secondary fee when such users redeem their Playspan game card(s) online.
“PlaySpan has the largest and most experienced team of digital goods monetization professionals in the gaming industry,” said Karl Mehta, Founder & CEO of PlaySpan. “By partnering with PlaySpan, Square Enix can focus on enhancing the player experience of FINAL FANTASY XIV and its other online content.”
Headquarters: New York City, New York
Year Founded: 2007
Live Gamer offers both billing and payment options to its developers, but shouldn’t be seen as a payment aggregator due to the large number of services they provide. Live Gamer is a total commerce system. Live Gamer offer publishers the ability to test and optimize on the number and selection of payment partners, and consistently updates payment partners as market trends in different geographies change and as new payment methods become available. Live Gamer also gives its customer the ability to plug into a wide array of payment providers directly through its system as part of its platform. Integration takes between 4 weeks to 3 months depending on configuration.
- Established brand presence
- Recent key acquisitions in nCash and Twofish
- $27.8M raised in funding
- Cross-platform billing not unified
- Not clear if in-game payment capability keeps players within app through pop-ups (Flash, Android, MMO)
“We selected Live Gamer due to its unique ecommerce functionality and payment methods which will augment EA’s current ecommerce capabilities” said Dennis Self, EA’s Chief Information Officer. “With that, EA is committed to its efforts to enable global online gaming capabilities, and Live Gamer provides us with additional capabilities to do that.”
Headquarters: Palo Alto, California
Year Founded: 2009
RubyCoins system was designed from day one to address the technical hurdles of cross-platform billing and in-game payment challenges that developers have recently begun to face as the industry continues to develop at breakneck speed. RubyCoins is the newest solution in the space, and have seemingly developed the most forward-looking system of all the companies featured in this article. RubyCoins is a billing system which shoulders for the developer all integration work required to integrate each of the payment options available in the market. Although they are still catching up to the number of payment options offered by the more established providers, with its nimble and intelligent system, RubyCoins is setting the foundation for future games and platform expansions. Integration takes between 2 days to 2 weeks depending on configuration. Also to note, the RubyCoins’ platform is not merely built around the gaming experience, but extends well into other content.
- Unified billing and analytics system across multi-devices and platforms (web, SNS, Android, iOS)
- In-game payment (Flash, Android, and MMO)
- Nascent technology but IP is protected
- New player in the space facing more established competition
- Fewer payment options available
“RubyCoins was selected because we needed a billing solution that features in-game payments and advanced analytics to effectively reduce friction for users during checkout. Additionally, RubyCoins is the only company to provide a system that will unify billing across our mobile and desktop games”, said Rob Kischuk, Chief Technical Officer of Menue Americas.
Headquarters: Seoul, Korea
Year Founded: 2001
PayLetter, Inc. has two flagship billing products named BillOne Q and Payone Q. The company has strong and well-established relationships among some of the world’s most prominent online game developers and publishers, especially MMO game publishers. PayLetter products are sold as package software. The PayLetter billing solution offers a lot configuration flexibility, though it has been reported they have limited analytics for what the industry requires in today data driven world. PayLetter is a good fit for developers who are ready to manage their own server farms and want the control of self-hosting the billing system after installation is complete. Integration takes 4-8 weeks depending on configuration.
- Mature, field-tested product
- Dedicated engineering support to customize billing software
- Weak analytics platform
- No cross-platform support
- No in-Flash, in-Android or in-MMO payment capability
“Our partnership with PayLetter represents a continuous expansion of our leadership in monetizing MMO and social network games, standalone Web sites, and virtual worlds,” said Jason Bailey, general manager of Adknowledge’s Virtual Currencies division. “Many MMO game publishers have complex underlying technology and user bases, which slows down their ability to monetize effectively. Our platform quickly solves this problem with the easiest-to-integrate and best performing monetization solutions on the market today.”
In this article, I briefly compared four companies offering multi-platform billing and analytics and discuss the integration process for each.. In the future I will cover in more depth each of these companies, their relative services and offerings, and compare the value add to their clients. It will be interesting to track the growth and development of these key players in the monetization solution and billing space.
Azam Khan is a social and mobile games analyst and app development consultant. You can contact him at email@example.com