The rising number of paying gamers outside your current reach is a missed opportunity for growth. To increase revenue for your game studio, expand your global reach with a broader portfolio of payment methods that can help you access new gamers in more places.
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which includes countries ranging from the Russian Federation to Kazakhstan, is an intergovernmental organization and geographic region with about 221 million people¹. It’s also home to approximately 104 million gamers², who generated nearly $2 billion for the video game industry in 2018³. But to develop your business successfully here, you’ll need to account for local spending behaviors and go beyond Western payment pillars like credit and debit cards or PayPal.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t.
One widespread local spending behavior relies on a subset of payment methods called push payments. These are payments initiated outside a video game, which are done via several payment options unique to the region. To better understand how push payments can help you capture up to 35%⁴ of this developing market, let’s dive a little deeper into their history and modern usage trends.
A distinct user flow and its unique attributes reflect how push payments differ from paying with credit and debit cards or PayPal.
In 1991, 12 former Soviet blocs came together to form the CIS, with an aim to improve the economic development of their recently independent countries⁵. Citizens within the member nations of the CIS all shared a similar reliance on cash, as Western financial institutions and their payment innovations, such as credit and debit cards, had not been widely introduced to the region yet.
Push payments first appeared within the CIS in the late 1990s and early 2000s in the form of the cash kiosk, a machine that let people buy airtime minutes for mobile phones using cash. As these devices grew in popularity, both their hardware and software were upgraded to the degree that citizens could pay for much more than just their phones. Individuals were soon able to use cash kiosks to add money to digital wallets, perform money transfers, and make payments for basic needs like water and electricity. Eventually, other categories of payments became available as well, including internet service, entertainment subscriptions, and of course, video games.
Cash kiosks established the push payment model in the CIS.
By 2011, cash kiosks had spread to more than 300,000 locations⁶, allowing unbanked gamers in just about every town to top up their online game accounts when en route to work, school, or the neighborhood grocery store. Over time, banks incorporated the model into their ATMs, and after the spread of smartphones, replicated push payments in their own applications. This made it possible for gamers to conveniently top up their accounts for gaming companies, like Activision Blizzard, Wargaming, and Steam, directly from a mobile banking application on their smartphone. With push payments firmly in the digital realm, the model even found a new home on major social networks, including Vkontatke as of late 2018.
Nowadays, cash kiosks capture 24% of the region’s video game payments, banking applications capture another 7%, ATMs are used for around 3.8%, and social networks account for a lean 0.2% (a sign of infancy, with significant growth potential moving forward). Added together, this means that 35%⁷ of the region’s 2018 gaming revenue — roughly $700 million⁸ — was generated via this unique payments model. Let’s see how you can score a greater share of this growing market by tapping into the advantages that push payments to create within the global video game industry.
There are several ways gamers can make offline and online push payments in the CIS.
Around 19%⁹ of the CIS — approximately 42 million people — continue to pay for everyday expenses exclusively with cash. Cash kiosks have a low baseline fee when compared to North American and European prepaid cards and gift cards, which typically carry fees between 10–15%¹⁰ thanks to manufacturing and distribution costs. As such, cash kiosks let you sell more cost-effectively to new customers — namely, the unbanked children and adults within this region.
You can avoid the financial loss and frustration that typically accompany chargebacks and refunds by integrating with over 300,000 cash kiosks throughout the CIS. Every cash kiosk has the same sales policy: all purchases are final. This means you can easily lower chargebacks and refunds when selling in this part of the world by adopting a physical sales infrastructure already used by tens of millions of people.
The video game payments interface on cash kiosks, ATMs, banking applications, and social media networks have a digital storefront that displays the names and logos of various companies and games. Securing space in this display is a great tool for getting your brand in front of the region’s gaming population. On top of that, these digital menus have other categories of payments that include space for paid advertisements, giving you an additional touchpoint to market to non-gamers and gamers alike.
A digital menu within a cash kiosk that displays games, companies, and a paid advertisement (top banner).
Push payments in the CIS provide your company with a strategic business opportunity to reach new gamers in more places. But rather than dedicating precious resources to figuring out the technical and legal complexities behind integrating and selling in these countries, let Xsolla take care of that for you. Scale quickly into an emerging $2 billion video game market with instant, compliant access to comprehensive push payments coverage.
To start earning more by selling with push payments in the CIS, contact one of our experts at email@example.com.
1. Estimate compiled from CIS member nation entries in CIA World Factbook, dated July 2018.
2. Estimate compiled from proprietary Xsolla data.
3. Estimate compiled from proprietary Xsolla data.
4. Estimate compiled from proprietary Xsolla data.
5. Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Commonwealth of Independent States”. Encyclopedia Britannica.
6. Estimate compiled from proprietary Xsolla data.
7. Estimate compiled from proprietary Xsolla data.
8. Individual/collective estimated percentages compiled from proprietary Xsolla data.
9. Estimate compiled from PPRO Payment Almanac. “Eastern Europe & The Commonwealth of Independent States”. PPRO Group.
10. Estimate compiled from proprietary Xsolla data.