[intro]There’s no question: Gamers are a passionate bunch. These fans tend to be extremely loyal to their favorite games; in return, they expect a great customer experience. This consumer behavior presents a challenge to companies looking to sell gaming titles online: They must have a clear understanding of the specific needs and motivations of this particular audience if they want to succeed.[/intro]
The opportunity is massive. The gaming industry hit $91 billion in worldwide sales in 2016, according to a recent report from market researcher SuperData Research. An increasingly bigger slice of this enormous pie is moving online. While software sales at physical stores like GameSpot are declining, digital downloads are experiencing double-digit growth, hitting $6.6 billion last year, says SuperData.
The rise of gaming marketplaces like Steam and GOG further proves that gamers are growing comfortable with the online buying experience. Amazon’s Twitch site just announced that it would start allowing viewers to buy the actual games they’re watching on the streaming service. The titles will be available for download and play directly through the site’s launcher.
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Offer Multiple Buying Formats
The PC-versus-console war continues to wage. While digital gaming is growing, only 16 percent of gamers say they exclusively play downloadable games. Therefore, to grab all sides of the market, the smart eCommerce play is to offer both digital and physical titles. For example, GameSpot has built a very healthy $1 billion digital business in addition to store sales in its physical locations. You’ll need a back-end solution that can handle this level of complexity in order and inventory management.
Encourage Impulse Buys
This tactic applies to both console and digital players, but is especially relevant to the latter group. “Most digital players, regardless of device, don’t plan their purchases,” according to NPD Group analyst Liam Callahan. “They purchase simply when they find something they like. But primary console players do have a greater tendency to purchase at or before the time of release relative to PC players.” Flash sales, bundled offerings, limited-time coupons, and free shipping are just some of the ways to entice impulse buyers. Accordingly, make sure your eCommerce platform is able to provide personalized promotions, custom bundles, in-cart merchandising, and user segmentation.
Make Your Store More Interesting
Video game retailers know their audience wants to be entertained, and your eCommerce website should do the same. Gamers are attracted to this medium for a reason. They love to be wowed by cinematic effects, cool animations, and bold, flashy colors. The worst thing you can do is put up a boring site. If you want to increase conversions, your site should immerse potential buyers immediately in an experience that grabs – and holds – their attention with high-quality video, cool graphics, and a unified brand experience. Offer a rich mix of images and video. Make sure your calls-to-action are clear and prominent.
Put Your Store Inside The Game
Think about this. Who are your best customers? The ones actually playing your games. So why not sell to them directly within the gaming experience? Publishers are realizing that in-game commerce is becoming a major source of revenue, creating new business models and opportunities for monetization. Products include game upgrades, new skins, player accessories, and virtual currencies and goods, and physical collectibles and souvenirs. Enabling in-game commerce are payment systems that can be integrated directly into the gaming environment.
Gaming communities are among some of the most passionate on the web. Gamers want to know what their friends are playing and buying. Like other eCommerce buyers, they are influenced by what their friends like. It’s not a coincidence that one of the top features of Steam is the ability to see your friends’ recommendations for gaming titles. At its core, Twitch is a way to make gaming into a social event by allowing millions of people to watch the same game being played. Every eCommerce business focused on gamers should have some aspect of community built into it.
Make It Easy To Check Out
Whether your customer is downloading games or buying physical discs, the path through the checkout process should be frictionless. Single-click “add to cart” options make the process quick, and a variety of payment options (without having to fill out long forms) make checking out simple and fast. Free shipping or in-store pick-up options (if you have a retail store) increase convenience and boost conversions. Localize the buying experience by automatically adjusting the language and currency for their region.
Be Prepared For Checkout
With hardcore gaming fans comes high expectations, especially when a much-anticipated new title is launching. You may only release one or two new games in a single year, so being prepared to meet the demand on launch day is critical. These fans will not tolerate any glitches or delays in getting their games at the first available moment. Mess up the launch of a new title, and you’ll be sure to hear about it on social media.
You’ll want to make sure your eCommerce provider can handle pre-sale orders, generate waiting lists, manage the spike in orders, and build a site that can withstand unexpected spikes in traffic and scale accordingly. A dead site is just about the worst thing that can happen to your brand during a big launch. Selecting an eCommerce provider with a lot of experience handling large title launches is a wise move.
Know Your Buyers Behavior
Unlike some other consumer groups, you can expect gamers to be active late at the night and on weekends. Therefore, your customer support should also be available during these times. Gamers are also big collectors. Your brand should be able to offer target core fans with exclusive and limited collector’s editions of games and merchandise to differentiate with your retail distribution. Of course, gamers are increasingly “mobile first,” just like the rest of the global eCommerce market. However, many brands are still struggling to create an amazing mobile experience that matches their desktop website.
Don’t Forget To Follow Through
The customer experience doesn’t end at the checkout “thank you” page. The hard-core gamer wants to know exactly when his or her new game will arrive, so be sure to offer shipment tracking and notifications. Also, what will the “unboxing” experience look like for the consumer? Will the package come with any surprise freebies like stickers or coupons on future purchases? Are you upselling upgrades or content add-ons after customers make their digital downloads? When customers run into problems, is your eCommerce solution equipped to handle refunds, returns, and the inevitable barrage of inquiries?
See What Scalefast Can Do
Find out how you can leverage Scalefast’s deep experience with serving gaming and entertainment brands. See how easy it is to sell to gamers across the globe with our full-service eCommerce platform.