Safeguarding the Future of Gaming: The Power of Parental Control in D2C Strategies

Safeguarding the Future of Gaming: The Power of Parental Control in D2C Strategies

August 8, 2023
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As the gaming industry continues to grow and evolve, the shift toward direct-to-consumer (D2C) distribution as a strategy has not only changed player preferences and behaviors when they interact with gaming content, it’s also created exciting new opportunities for developers to engage with their audiences directly. 

This new level of rapport between game players and game creators is an exciting avenue to explore, but it comes with additional challenges and responsibilities to keep the gaming experience safe and secure for players of all ages. In fact, the growing scrutiny of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and compliance regulators towards game developers has shined a spotlight on these challenges and the importance of user protection.

This new type of player-developer relationship, as well as an increased legal and regulatory focus on privacy, has catalyzed an industry-wide initiative to implement robust parental controls — a suite of features and integrations that are designed to protect players’ security. The importance of parental control features only grows when it comes to actually crafting your direct-to-consumer strategies, since it can become a beneficial tool as you sell to your audiences. Especially when partnering  with Merchants of Record (MoR) like Xsolla that come equipped with the industry knowledge and resources to help prioritize and integrate these features into your gaming platforms. 

Ensuring secure gameplay for users

What is parental control?

With the surge in gaming comes an increase in online interactions and in-game purchases, as well as the responsibility to make them as safe and secure as possible for players of all ages. However, while three-quarters of US households includes someone who plays video games, more than 70% of them are under age 18, making minors a majority segment of gaming audiences that require bolstered security and protection.

Parental control, a set of tools and features designed to enable parents or guardians to monitor, regulate, and manage their children's digital activities, especially when accessing online content and video games, plays a critical role in creating a safe and responsible gaming ecosystem for young players. Providing parents with the ability to set age restrictions, control in-game purchases, and monitor online interactions, parental control features have been integrated by many developers to ensure child safety, protect privacy, and promote responsible gaming behavior.

Features and benefits

Parental control features play a vital role in mitigating risks and building trust among guardians that are concerned about their children's online activity. By incorporating these insights into your D2C strategies, you can elevate the gaming experience for young gamers.

AGE RESTRICTIONS

Video games often contain content that is intended for specific age groups due to certain themes, including violence, mature topics, or other sensitive material. Age restriction measures like age gating are a crucial component of parental control, allowing parents to ensure that their children only access age-appropriate content.

Integrating age restrictions allows you to protect young audiences from exposure to content that may not be appropriate to them. By offering guardians the ability to customize the game experience according to their children's age, you can expand your audience while ensuring that each player's experience aligns with their developmental stage.

SCREEN TIME MANAGEMENT

A primary concern for guardians in the age of digitization is the amount of time children spend online or playing games. Excessive screen time and gameplay can be prevalent among gamers and can even lead to potential health concerns. 

Parental control allows you to promote a healthier balance between gaming and other activities, as well as encourage responsible gaming behavior, by enabling screen time management features into your game so parents can set time limits on gaming sessions. This proactive approach can help build trust with guardians and young gamers alike.

IN-GAME PURCHASE CONTROL

Microtransactions and in-game purchases are the most prevalent types of gaming purchases. While these features can enhance gameplay and support ongoing development, they can also lead to unexpected expenses,  accidental purchases, or unapproved transactions. Especially for young players who may not fully comprehend the financial implications.

Parental control features enable guardians to manage or disable in-game purchases, which fosters a safer and more transparent in-game experience. It also mitigates the amount of refunds, chargebacks, non-credible purchases, and disputed transactions, ensuring your audience has full visibility over the payments they make, and increasing your revenue as a result.

INTERACTION MONITORING 

Incorporating tools for online interaction monitoring gives guardians the means to oversee their children's interactions and intervene when necessary. This commitment to player safety can lead to increased player retention, providing guardians with reassurance that their children can enjoy multiplayer gaming with reduced risks.

Parental control & direct-to-consumer gaming

Direct-to-consumer marketing is becoming a more important part of gaming’s economy, reducing barrier to entry for gamers and creating a more direct connection between developers and their audiences. While this relationship makes for a more streamlined user experience, it also comes with the responsibility of making sure the digital security and privacy of those users are protected. 

Parental control features are beneficial tools that can not only attract a broader audience of guardians who prioritize their children's safety, but also enhance your reputation as a  responsible developer and creator. They can also significantly impact the success of your direct to consumer strategies. By prioritizing the implementation of robust parental control features, developers can positively impact various aspects of their D2C approach:

  • Increased Revenue Opportunities. Games that prominently display robust parental control options are more likely to attract guardians who prioritize safety and age-appropriate content for their children. By allowing parents to manage spending limits or approve transactions, you encourage more guardians to permit their children to engage in in-game purchases. As a result, these games can experience increased in-game purchases and higher retention rates.
  • Enhanced player engagement. Parental control features, like age restrictions and screen time management, assure guardians that the games are designed with their child's best interests in mind. By empowering guardians with control over their children's gaming experiences you foster trust and confidence, leading to higher player engagement and loyalty.
  • Compliance with Regulations. With data privacy and child protection regulations like COPPA and GDPR-K becoming more stringent internationally, integrating parental control features has become vital for direct-to-consumer success. Prioritizing compliance can avoid legal issues, fines, reputation damage, and public scrutiny.

Increased regulatory vigilance

In recent years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and international compliance regulators have become increasingly watchful regarding the gaming industry's data privacy practices and child protection measures. Many cases have highlighted the need for stronger safety measures for gamers under 18. As a result, game developers face growing pressure to comply with privacy laws and implement effective payment security features. 

Different countries have their unique regulations and guidelines concerning children's online safety and privacy. For example, some jurisdictions enforce strict age restrictions for accessing certain types of content or participating in online interactions, while others place a stronger emphasis on data privacy and parental consent.

In the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has set a robust standard for data protection and privacy. Game developers must adhere to stringent data collection and processing practices with EU users, particularly when it comes to young players. Similarly, other regions, such as North America, the Middle East, and Asia, have their specific data protection and child protection laws that game developers operating in those markets should comply with. 

Not only is there stricter enforcement of privacy regulations, there is now an increased likelihood of mid-tier and Indie developers and publishers that might experience closer examination of their practices, with many countries around the world like Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, and more enforcing their own set of laws and regulations. 

Merchant of Record: A streamlined way to make games safe and secure

With so many concerns regarding minors’ online safety and gameplay activity, as well as a variety of regulation bodies and laws to keep track of – especially on a multi-national scale – new responsibilities like implementing parental controls, managing payment and transaction security, and keeping track of privacy regulations can become overwhelming. 

As you focus on creating engaging gameplay and D2C strategies to reach your audience directly, game commerce solution providers like Xsolla can offer vital support for many critical areas of your business, keeping you covered while saving you valuable time and money through the Merchant of Record model.

A Merchant of Record assumes financial liability and risk on behalf of the merchants that they support and is also responsible for crucial payments services. As the intermediary responsible for financial transactions, Xsolla plays a critical role in ensuring compliance with privacy regulations and providing a secure payment environment for players and developers alike.

With the launch of the Parental Control feature set, Xsolla's range of solutions now allow you to integrate an additional level of verification for guardians, traditionally provided by platforms and marketplaces, to ensure safe and compliant payments are made when gaming and selling directly to consumers. As the Merchant of Record, Xsolla will help keep developers compliant with COPPA, General Data Protection Regulation, and other safety and security policies, including those specifically for children and minors. 

Our team of experts will also enable the creation of a secure and streamlined payment ecosystem that works seamlessly with our range of services and solutions like Xsolla Pay Station, Web Shop, Game Sales, and others. This will allow you to focus on crafting exceptional and engaging gameplay while upholding the highest standards of safety, security, and privacy protection for their players worldwide.

Discover how Xsolla’s team of experts can help elevate your video game’s security by reaching out to us at business@xsolla.com.

As the gaming industry continues to thrive, so does the potential for new opportunities. With more than 15 years of experience exclusively in gaming, a partnership with Xsolla can help you carve out a space for success as the industry grows and empower your business to become as innovative as your games.

Sign up with your Publisher Account to get started. Or, contact one of Xsolla’s payments experts to learn how you can start managing your business’ payments potential.

As the gaming industry continues to grow and evolve, the shift toward direct-to-consumer (D2C) distribution as a strategy has not only changed player preferences and behaviors when they interact with gaming content, it’s also created exciting new opportunities for developers to engage with their audiences directly. 

This new level of rapport between game players and game creators is an exciting avenue to explore, but it comes with additional challenges and responsibilities to keep the gaming experience safe and secure for players of all ages. In fact, the growing scrutiny of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and compliance regulators towards game developers has shined a spotlight on these challenges and the importance of user protection.

This new type of player-developer relationship, as well as an increased legal and regulatory focus on privacy, has catalyzed an industry-wide initiative to implement robust parental controls — a suite of features and integrations that are designed to protect players’ security. The importance of parental control features only grows when it comes to actually crafting your direct-to-consumer strategies, since it can become a beneficial tool as you sell to your audiences. Especially when partnering  with Merchants of Record (MoR) like Xsolla that come equipped with the industry knowledge and resources to help prioritize and integrate these features into your gaming platforms. 

Ensuring secure gameplay for users

What is parental control?

With the surge in gaming comes an increase in online interactions and in-game purchases, as well as the responsibility to make them as safe and secure as possible for players of all ages. However, while three-quarters of US households includes someone who plays video games, more than 70% of them are under age 18, making minors a majority segment of gaming audiences that require bolstered security and protection.

Parental control, a set of tools and features designed to enable parents or guardians to monitor, regulate, and manage their children's digital activities, especially when accessing online content and video games, plays a critical role in creating a safe and responsible gaming ecosystem for young players. Providing parents with the ability to set age restrictions, control in-game purchases, and monitor online interactions, parental control features have been integrated by many developers to ensure child safety, protect privacy, and promote responsible gaming behavior.

Features and benefits

Parental control features play a vital role in mitigating risks and building trust among guardians that are concerned about their children's online activity. By incorporating these insights into your D2C strategies, you can elevate the gaming experience for young gamers.

AGE RESTRICTIONS

Video games often contain content that is intended for specific age groups due to certain themes, including violence, mature topics, or other sensitive material. Age restriction measures like age gating are a crucial component of parental control, allowing parents to ensure that their children only access age-appropriate content.

Integrating age restrictions allows you to protect young audiences from exposure to content that may not be appropriate to them. By offering guardians the ability to customize the game experience according to their children's age, you can expand your audience while ensuring that each player's experience aligns with their developmental stage.

SCREEN TIME MANAGEMENT

A primary concern for guardians in the age of digitization is the amount of time children spend online or playing games. Excessive screen time and gameplay can be prevalent among gamers and can even lead to potential health concerns. 

Parental control allows you to promote a healthier balance between gaming and other activities, as well as encourage responsible gaming behavior, by enabling screen time management features into your game so parents can set time limits on gaming sessions. This proactive approach can help build trust with guardians and young gamers alike.

IN-GAME PURCHASE CONTROL

Microtransactions and in-game purchases are the most prevalent types of gaming purchases. While these features can enhance gameplay and support ongoing development, they can also lead to unexpected expenses,  accidental purchases, or unapproved transactions. Especially for young players who may not fully comprehend the financial implications.

Parental control features enable guardians to manage or disable in-game purchases, which fosters a safer and more transparent in-game experience. It also mitigates the amount of refunds, chargebacks, non-credible purchases, and disputed transactions, ensuring your audience has full visibility over the payments they make, and increasing your revenue as a result.

INTERACTION MONITORING 

Incorporating tools for online interaction monitoring gives guardians the means to oversee their children's interactions and intervene when necessary. This commitment to player safety can lead to increased player retention, providing guardians with reassurance that their children can enjoy multiplayer gaming with reduced risks.

Parental control & direct-to-consumer gaming

Direct-to-consumer marketing is becoming a more important part of gaming’s economy, reducing barrier to entry for gamers and creating a more direct connection between developers and their audiences. While this relationship makes for a more streamlined user experience, it also comes with the responsibility of making sure the digital security and privacy of those users are protected. 

Parental control features are beneficial tools that can not only attract a broader audience of guardians who prioritize their children's safety, but also enhance your reputation as a  responsible developer and creator. They can also significantly impact the success of your direct to consumer strategies. By prioritizing the implementation of robust parental control features, developers can positively impact various aspects of their D2C approach:

  • Increased Revenue Opportunities. Games that prominently display robust parental control options are more likely to attract guardians who prioritize safety and age-appropriate content for their children. By allowing parents to manage spending limits or approve transactions, you encourage more guardians to permit their children to engage in in-game purchases. As a result, these games can experience increased in-game purchases and higher retention rates.
  • Enhanced player engagement. Parental control features, like age restrictions and screen time management, assure guardians that the games are designed with their child's best interests in mind. By empowering guardians with control over their children's gaming experiences you foster trust and confidence, leading to higher player engagement and loyalty.
  • Compliance with Regulations. With data privacy and child protection regulations like COPPA and GDPR-K becoming more stringent internationally, integrating parental control features has become vital for direct-to-consumer success. Prioritizing compliance can avoid legal issues, fines, reputation damage, and public scrutiny.

Increased regulatory vigilance

In recent years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and international compliance regulators have become increasingly watchful regarding the gaming industry's data privacy practices and child protection measures. Many cases have highlighted the need for stronger safety measures for gamers under 18. As a result, game developers face growing pressure to comply with privacy laws and implement effective payment security features. 

Different countries have their unique regulations and guidelines concerning children's online safety and privacy. For example, some jurisdictions enforce strict age restrictions for accessing certain types of content or participating in online interactions, while others place a stronger emphasis on data privacy and parental consent.

In the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has set a robust standard for data protection and privacy. Game developers must adhere to stringent data collection and processing practices with EU users, particularly when it comes to young players. Similarly, other regions, such as North America, the Middle East, and Asia, have their specific data protection and child protection laws that game developers operating in those markets should comply with. 

Not only is there stricter enforcement of privacy regulations, there is now an increased likelihood of mid-tier and Indie developers and publishers that might experience closer examination of their practices, with many countries around the world like Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, and more enforcing their own set of laws and regulations. 

Merchant of Record: A streamlined way to make games safe and secure

With so many concerns regarding minors’ online safety and gameplay activity, as well as a variety of regulation bodies and laws to keep track of – especially on a multi-national scale – new responsibilities like implementing parental controls, managing payment and transaction security, and keeping track of privacy regulations can become overwhelming. 

As you focus on creating engaging gameplay and D2C strategies to reach your audience directly, game commerce solution providers like Xsolla can offer vital support for many critical areas of your business, keeping you covered while saving you valuable time and money through the Merchant of Record model.

A Merchant of Record assumes financial liability and risk on behalf of the merchants that they support and is also responsible for crucial payments services. As the intermediary responsible for financial transactions, Xsolla plays a critical role in ensuring compliance with privacy regulations and providing a secure payment environment for players and developers alike.

With the launch of the Parental Control feature set, Xsolla's range of solutions now allow you to integrate an additional level of verification for guardians, traditionally provided by platforms and marketplaces, to ensure safe and compliant payments are made when gaming and selling directly to consumers. As the Merchant of Record, Xsolla will help keep developers compliant with COPPA, General Data Protection Regulation, and other safety and security policies, including those specifically for children and minors. 

Our team of experts will also enable the creation of a secure and streamlined payment ecosystem that works seamlessly with our range of services and solutions like Xsolla Pay Station, Web Shop, Game Sales, and others. This will allow you to focus on crafting exceptional and engaging gameplay while upholding the highest standards of safety, security, and privacy protection for their players worldwide.

Discover how Xsolla’s team of experts can help elevate your video game’s security by reaching out to us at business@xsolla.com.

As the gaming industry continues to thrive, so does the potential for new opportunities. With more than 15 years of experience exclusively in gaming, a partnership with Xsolla can help you carve out a space for success as the industry grows and empower your business to become as innovative as your games.

Sign up with your Publisher Account to get started. Or, contact one of Xsolla’s payments experts to learn how you can start managing your business’ payments potential.

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