Sure, Twitch and Co. attract the masses and get more and more people to use the controller or mouse and keyboard and play. But who makes sure that only those who are old enough for it get all the content? And what can you actually do against cheaters or hackers? More money, but also more security?
Not least because of the ongoing pandemic, we are spending more and more time in front of our screens. Regardless of whether it is a mobile phone, console or PC, the free time in your own four walls is used to meet up with friends online and play. Surveys, like the one by Bitkom from August 2020, even show that the playing time of the respondents has almost doubled. (Those)
Developers, publishers and platforms in particular benefit from these trends and have been able to increase their sales significantly in the last 18 months. It is no surprise here that more and more games are no longer being bought, downloaded and, of course, played online, rather than on physical media such as DVDs. According to the Association of the German Games Industry, sales with online gaming services grew by 50 percent in 2020 to 692 million euros (Those).
This is exactly where the risks arise with regard to the protection of minors. The increasingly digital market often still has too little control over who ultimately makes purchases from which device or plays non-youth-free games or watches content.
Can providers ignore this threat to the protection of minors? Hardly likely. It should be in your interest to carry out a reliable age test in order to create security for your users and their parents.
Protection of minors can be easy & safe
Why are providers not always so active after an online age check for purchases or access to non-youth-free content? Often times, such processes have not been user-friendly in the past. Customers are redirected to new websites, have to enter tons of data and take time-consuming steps. Potential buyers abandon purchases or processes when processes are too complex. However, thanks to the latest technologies and solutions, there is now the possibility of simply ensuring that a person has reached the required minimum age.
Here, the age verification process must be safe, quick and convenient. It is particularly important that the registration process and the start of the game are not unnecessarily delayed. But what exactly can this look like?
An example: it only takes a few seconds to upload a photo of your ID card when you create an account. In this case, however, the provider has no guarantee that a 10-year-old has not uploaded his adult brother’s ID. Instead, processes based on modern technologies have long since emerged that ensure fast processes thanks to artificial intelligence and biometrics. It only takes a few seconds longer than uploading an ID photo.
However, providers can legally ensure that the person who is currently opening an account or buying a game is identical to the one on the ID. On the other hand, players get an efficient way to verify their minimum age and get access to the game or content as quickly as possible.
Bye Bye Smurfs & Cheater?
In order for new solutions such as digital age controls to become established in the gaming area, it is therefore important to gain acceptance from gamers and end customers. The easier it is to check the minimum age and the more secure it is for both parties, the more likely it will be successful. An important role here will be that the technical solutions for online identification that is already extremely efficient today find their way into the industry.
If users recognize what such online processes contribute not only to the protection of minors, but also to gaming, the acceptance of such new processes will increase rapidly. Especially in competitive gaming, whether at the highest e-sports level or for ambitious hobby gamers in ranked matches, the fight against smurfs and hackers can be won thanks to the latest technologies. Who wouldn’t be happy about a better solution than permeable systems such as Valve’s VAC anticheat system?
If you have to register for the account with a fast, secure and digital identification process, it becomes almost impossible to simply create a second or third account in order to destroy the gaming experience of others as a smurf in the lower ranks. A potential cheater also thinks twice about whether he really wants to illegally cheat advantages if he has to verify his account with his face and his identity. The time is ripe for the gaming industry not only to become more aware of its responsibility to protect minors and to become more and more innovative in its games, but also to use technological advances for age verification and online identification.
This is all the more true in times of exit restrictions, which are particularly stressful for young people. If publishers, associations and organizations provide targeted information, the industry can benefit even more. The implementation does not fail due to the technological implementation, because security and easy handling can be agreed. The protection of minors can be effectively implemented without restricting the industry or taking the fun away from the players. If we look at the identification options, it could even soon be: Bye Bye Cheater. The possibilities are there, now it is time to use them.
About the author:
Frank S. Jorga is the founder and CEO of the company that specializes in digital identification processes and online signatures WebID Solutions GmbH. He is responsible for the strategic direction and global expansion of the company founded in 2012. With its invention, WebID is the pioneer in the segment of AMLA-compliant video identification (AMLA = Money Laundering Act).
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