It's one of the oldest questions in games - how exactly do you get players to pay for your game? And to go one step beyond, what exact method are they going to use to make that payment?
While debit and credit cards may seem like an obvious answer, not everyone has access. But there are alternative payment methods, such as SMS - something Mediatel knows a lot about.
To find out more about what Mediatel does and what it can offer to mobile developers, we spoke to director Mike Charlesworth about the company's approach to working with developers and what it can offer to anyone looking to implement alternative payments in their games.
PocketGamer.biz: How did Mediatel get started?
Mike Charlesworth: Mediatel was started back in 1992 in the premium rate voice business. We were based in Sydney, Australia which by chance was a primary hub for international PRS traffic at the time.
What has been the key to your growth as a company?
You simply have to innovate to survive. But let's not forget the fact that hard work gets you a long, long way!
What opportunities does Mediatel see in the games industry, both for developers and consumers?
There is usually a solution that can work as an alternative for credit & debit card billingMike Charlesworth
Billing and collection is the key to many online industries, especially the games industry. You have the demand from consumers globally, but how do you sensibly bill and collect when it's a microtransaction, or the consumer doesn't have a debit or credit card? That's where we help our partners.
What services can Mediatel provide mobile game developers?
Mediatel has seen significant growth in sms billing these last couple of months. It's easy and quick for the consumer, which enables quick and seamless transactions.
Aside from billing for access to mobile/online content, such as games, from pretty much any corner of the world, we can also offer our clients to monetize opt-ins for any competitions or voting they may want to run.
All game developers are different - their content is bespoke and their target markets vary, so what may work in Morocco, for example, may not work in Myanmar.
We work closely with each client to optimize their setup with us, in order to increase conversions and help them build a new and stable revenue stream for their products.
The majority of our clients use us to convert consumers in markets where conventional billing methods, such as debit and credit cards, are not as abundant, but where everyone has a mobile phone and is able to send an SMS.
Essentially, we help our clients to tap into new markets and build new revenue streams, by offering a payment solution that's accessible to anyone, and not limited to those having a credit or debit card.
It's quick and easy for consumers to send an SMS, and straightforward for the developer to implement and process a transactionMike Charlesworth
Are SMS-based payments suitable for all mobile games, or are there specific types of games you think work best?
Whether its direct carrier billing or international SMS, there is usually a solution that can work as an alternative for credit & debit card billing.
Which kinds of payment systems are most popular, both from a developer and consumer standpoint?
What's most popular right now is using standard international SMS as a micro-payment - the consumer can afford it, and the developer can use it on an ongoing basis.
Additionally, from a consumer standpoint they are most popular in regions where end users often only have a mobile phone to pay for online products and don’t hold credit/debit cards.
It's quick and easy for consumers to send an SMS, and straightforward for the developer to implement and process a transaction.
What are your long-term goals for extending your company's scope to working with game studios?
It's a market we are focusing on and adding more geographic value to on a constant basis. We are aware that all markets are different and they need individual attention.
Our developers and marketing clients very much see us as partners and that's how we like it, looking at one geographical market very differently to another.