The online gaming business – both in terms of conventional gaming and gambling activities – is a massive one. Tens if not hundreds of millions of people around the world play games of all different types online, and untold billions of dollars change hands in the process.
Conventional gaming, which is to say console- and PC-based video games, online arcades and the like, tends to get most of the attention. It’s widely understood that this is an extremely popular and equally lucrative modern form of entertainment. Real-money gaming – casino activity, basically – gets less attention, in part because it remains largely prohibited in the United States. However, with gambling activity currently being legalized to the tune of a potential $150 billion industry, it’s reasonable to wonder if online casinos could follow.
It’s also reasonable to wonder if the whole of the online gaming industry, including conventional and gambling games alike, could become something of a proving ground for modern digital payment methods in the next few years.
As to why that might be the case, one need only look at how online gaming already works when it comes to payment. Where gambling and casino games are concerned, it’s most helpful to look overseas, where the UK’s variety of gaming sites provide a model for what such businesses would likely look like in the U.S. And between these sites, you can find some of the most comprehensive groupings of digital payment methods that exists in any modern industry: credit card acceptance, digital payment processors, token-like systems, and in some cases even cryptocurrencies. If it facilitates digital deposits, chances are it’s being used by one casino platform or another.
On the conventional gaming front, the idea of online payments is still something of a process. However, in the last decade and really over the course of the last five years in particular, we have indeed seen this multibillion-dollar industry start to digitize fairly completely. That is to say, gamers aren’t buying new games on shelves as often anymore, but are instead opting to download them through online stores run by the console companies. The breadth of payment options available here isn’t quite as wide as what you see at online casinos, but considering acceptable options at the PlayStation Store as examples, you still see a lot of possibilities: PayPal, major credit cards, and even specialized “PlayStation Network Cards.” Meanwhile, PlayStation’s greatest competitor, Microsoft, even accepts cryptocurrency in digital gaming transactions.
This may all sound perfectly natural, but when you compare these online gaming sectors to other companies or industries that handle a high volume of digital purchases, you won’t find many that accept as many options. This precedent set by gaming businesses, coupled with the idea that it’s a virtual certainty that we’ll move even more completely toward digital purchasing in the years to come, makes it entirely possible that video games could become trendsetters in this regard.
In other words, one significant measure as to whether or not a new payment method or processor should be taken seriously, moving forward, may just be whether or not you can use it to pay for a video game.