By Debsena Chakraborty, VP Business Development MENA, mFilterIt
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to be confined within four walls, people discovered online gaming to escape. In the past two years, the gaming industry has seen rampant growth across the world and the pandemic has been an integral accelerator of this.
During the pandemic, approximately 400 new gaming companies emerged, and the number of active gamers has increased to 420 million globally. With the increase in customer demand, the gaming industry has also seen a rapid increase in advertising spend with gaming platforms spending $46.7 billion on this in 2021 and this figure is expected to increase to $130.9 billion by 2025 across the world.
This rampant growth in the gaming advertising industry has not only attracted the attention of gamers but has also created new opportunities for fraudsters to commit fraud.
Here’s what the team at mFilterIt believes to be the three major fraud threats to the gaming industry.
1. Account Take Over
With a massive influx in the number of online gamers, Account Takeover attacks have also seen a spike in growth. Fraudsters are using sophisticated tools to steal personal information from gamers such as username, password, or email address information to illegally use for their benefit.
Once a fraudster has access to a user’s data, they can then use it for various malicious activities such as making online purchases or stealing in-app purchases like coins and loyalty benefits. They also use this technique to take over genuine user accounts.
Fraudsters are putting gaming platforms’ reputations at stake while stealing the potential revenue and user data so gaming platforms need to fight to maintain a balance between blocking these malicious attacks and avoiding banning legitimate gamers.
What gaming users can do to avoid these types of fraudulent attacks is to ensure that they are not putting their personal information on public-based internet sites and instead, make sure they are making in-game purchases on private and secure networks. We also advise that they change their login details and passwords on a regular basis.
2. Fake Accounts
Gaming platforms invest a huge amount of money to acquire new customers but if they discover that the engaging users are fake, it is a nightmare. Fake accounts not only pollute the gaming ecosystem but also drive away legitimate gamers.
Fraudsters create fake accounts to initiate a huge volume of clicks on ads and this is usually with the intention to generate higher affiliate revenue or to block the servers of a competitor’s game with a high volume of requests.
The downtime created by heavy traffic on gaming servers creates a poor experience for legitimate users and means that games can’t be downloaded even for paid services. This leads to serious implications for the gaming brand’s reputation. When a game is plagued with fake users and genuine users are impacted, the word spreads quickly within the gaming circles. This results in the gaming platform losing genuine users and its brand reputation can be seriously compromised.
3. Click Fraud
Beyond the technique of using fake accounts and stealing credentials, fraudsters use Click Fraud to extract money. The gaming advertisers invest huge budgets to attract new gamers to their platform. However, fraudsters find many ways to steal ad budgets from gaming platforms.
In click fraud, gamers are pushed to install a malicious app on their phone which gives fraudsters access to the user’s device. Through the malware, fraudsters can track the activity of the user and whenever they download a gaming app, fraudsters fire fake clicks in the background. As a result of this, the MMPs attribute this fake click as the last click source, and the fraudster gets the credit for an organic installation. Due to this activity, gaming advertisers end up with skewed analytics which leads to wasted ad spend on invalid traffic.
So what precautions can users take?
Gamers need to make sure that the downloads they are making are from genuine sources. Any downloads from third-party sources such as WhatsApp or unauthorised app stores could be fraudulent activity and these unauthorised downloads can leak data such as contact, location information, and SMS details. This data can then be used for, even more, fraudulent activity. At times, it could be used with criminal intent which could land users in a lot of trouble.
What is the solution for gaming apps?
To fight the battle against fraudsters, gaming platforms need to be smart and equipped with the right precautions as fraudsters use sophisticated methods to hide behind the cloak of genuine gamers.
mFilterIt’s ad traffic validation suite uses the capabilities of AI, ML, and Data Science with a mix of various algorithm checks to detect and eliminate fraudulent traffic. This solution ensures that real-time checks are being taken on campaigns and that the right action is taken to prevent fraudulent activity from being committed on gaming apps and websites.
Now it is time to let real players play the game instead of bots.