We’ve talked about ad fraud in general and in very specific contexts on this blog. Though the situations and context can change, the results are the same: everyone loses when ad fraud is in play.
For instance, take fraud against gamers and companies in the online gaming industry. How could ad fraud impact the gaming industry? We’re going to break that question down to its base elements, just as we would in any industry or segment.
We’ll spend the next three posts talking about this ever-growing industry, the companies that create the platforms, and the advertisers who desperately want to be in front of these gaming customers.
An Overview of Gaming Fraud
Anyone who’s purchased a game console in the last thirty years understands the nexus of their culture. Whether playing with friends on Fortnite, building a world on Minecraft, or training for the military in Call of Duty, all of the popular games require disclosing a certain degree of personal information and, frequently, money exchanging hands.
As new games and gamers come online with these various platforms, the risk for all types of intrusions grows exponentially—for both the gamers and the platforms. In 2023, an estimated 3.07 billion gamers will be engaged in the industry, up from 1.9 billion in 2015. This sort of critical mass provides the impetus for fraudsters to find creative new ways to disrupt game designers and advertisers.
Any platform with automation set up to create and authenticate free or paid accounts can fall victim to bot or human click fraud. For example, when you look at the setup and function for games like Minecraft, APEX Legends, or HeartheStone—whether on desktops or mobile apps—they all require submitting a certain level of personal information to create an account online.
Further, gaming companies are under pressure to make it easier to create new accounts as gamers want less and less hassle to start or try a new gaming experience. Because of this push and pull, there’s a constant balance between ease of use and security. And, unfortunately, we’re seeing security being pushed down the priority list again and again.
The degree of fraud and exploitation in these environments is expansive. There are typically two types of fraud being committed:
Outright criminal fraud through intrusion and stealing of data, and
A more entrepreneurial type of fraud with fake accounts and accouterments being developed and sold on the black market.
Here’s a quick overview of the many types of fraud targeting all the interests involved—the gamer, the gaming company, and the advertisers who play in the space between them.
Multiple Account Fraud
Multiple account fraud involves individuals who open different accounts on the same platform and use multiple logins to enrich or empower themselves inside the game ecosystem. At a Las Vegas casino in the real world, they would never allow you to sit across from a copy of yourself and play a game of poker.Online, the chance of multiple account fraud means this sort of fraud could and does happen, stacking the odds in favor of the fraudster.
Payment or Credit Card Fraud
Payment fraud is a more traditional type involving nefarious individuals actively trying to steal payment information from other gamers. They use fake accounts, not only inflating the number of accounts on the game but also creating chargeback situations that can negatively impact a gaming company's revenue. This type of fraud can affect the gaming companies’ reputation and bottom line, hurting revenue targets and bogging down app installations.
Most of us are aware of account takeovers. The infiltration and impersonation of an account crosses the line for both the gaming company and its gamers. Many of us have experienced it on a personal level, but it impacts the gaming company’s reputation and sense of customer loyalty even more. It is worth noting that this type of fraud affects nearly one out of four of the 3.01 billion gamers online. Moreover, the impact of account takeovers can lead to other kinds of fraud. With access to a gamer’s account, the fraudster can skillfully infiltrate the financial tools on the stolen account, and a takeover can lead to other types of fraud, including blackmail and illegal selling of the account.
Bonus abuse is a more basic scam and a variation of multiple account fraud. Many of these games offer referral or bonus incentives that encourage users to build connections and a community. If a fraudster can leverage these bonuses by using multiple accounts, it can lead to waste and loss of game and ad revenue.
Affiliate fraud is not new and occurs in almost every industry. In the world of online gaming, affiliate marketing is an effective way to connect and grow. Unfortunately, the industry is also ripe for deceit. When you combine the power of ad fraud using automated bots with multiple account fraud, you have the possibility of rampant fraud. A calculated intrusion can cause real issues with ad budgets and revenue targets.
What Can You Do About Gaming Fraud?
How can these multi-billion-dollar gaming companies mitigate the risk of these types of fraud? Anura’s technology is seamless. In a world where the user experience can make or break your game, Anura is in the background filtering out fraudulent traffic with 99.99% accuracy.
Removing up to 20% of traffic—because it’s fraudulent—would substantially impact gamers’ in-game experience and game companies’ revenue. Our free trial shows companies the true power of Anura. It can demonstrate—in real time—the amount of fraudulent traffic on your platform and, as a result, what it’s costing you when it’s not adequately addressed or, even worse, ignored.
This type of fraud in the gaming industry is not going away anytime soon. Whenever a new authentication method is created or enhanced, fraudsters find ways around it. Filtering out the bad traffic while still allowing in the good traffic is the solution. Don’t penalize users with a disjointed experience; use Anura to keep the traffic off your site before they even have a chance to get in.
Follow along in our gaming series for part two, a deeper dive into fraud at the game company level.