GDC 14: Getting Paid to Play with Green Man Gaming and Playfire

The PC community has become accustomed to receiving incredible deals on digital games over the past eight years, and while Steam is at the forefront, it’s companies like Green Man Gaming that are looking to give the most bang for your buck. At GDC 2014, we were able to sit down with Darren Cairns, EVP of Marketing at Green Man Gaming, to learn more about their ever evolving service and just how impactful they have become in the PC gaming space.

With the acquisition of Playfire less than a year ago, Green Man Gaming has been hard at work finding creative ways to meld the data tracking service into their eCommerce business. The starting point to the ongoing development is a rewards program that went into beta in December, giving players credit simply for playing their own games. Thus far, over 200,000 rewards have been granted, handing out thousands of dollars-worth of bonuses to be used on future transactions. An example Cairns cited was someone who was credited just under six dollars merely for playing through South Park: the Stick of Truth. This program won’t be strictly for newer games, either, as there’s an incredible backlog of Steam titles that can be take advantage of (an example given was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim).

The rewards program, while right now is only tied to which achievements are unlocked, can be much more diverse than that. Because Playfire is a data rich service, they’re able to assign various values (potentially at a later date) to be rewarded at a certain points in a playthrough, such as unlocking 50% of the achievements, and also how much time has been accumulated. For players who are concerned that their games are not compatible, worry not. Whether you’ve purchased it from Steam or another vendor, so long as there’s data to track through Steam’s API, your games are compatible with the program. This will help bring in more gamers to Green Man Gaming’s constantly growing ecosystem, building on the already impressive sales the site employs on a constant basis.

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Speaking of performance, Green Man Gaming has been growing non-stop. In just one year’s time, they’ve been able to more than double their install base, now serving over three million users worldwide. Of those three million, North America and Europe each make up for 40% of their customers, with the United States alone being considered their biggest market. On the other side of the fence, GMG also has over 300 publishers signed and are continuously scouting for more, specifically at GDC they were in talks with the overwhelming number of indie developers. They’re looking to expand even further by offering additional payment methods outside of the already accommodated North America and Europe, hopefully getting countries such as Russia, Brazil, Germany and many others to easily shop at their store.

While GMG is becoming a PC vendor juggernaut, Playfire is making some strong strides, as well. Their data tracking allows users to view their trends and will spit out data that could be very interesting to learn. For example, Playfire will tell users what they will most likely enjoy that’s not already in their history and even goes down into details about how much time they will most likely put into it. This is collected from all the time spent, achievements unlocked and types of games played that they’re able to make algorithmic predictions and help recommend titles gamers will most likely purchase next.

The future of this rewards plan is looking promising, but it’s not just credit that can be handed out. Because rewards are triggered through data syncs such as specific achievements being unlocked, they’re able to hand out other items such as coupons or codes to players. This will help benefit the publisher in bringing in additional support, allowing gamers to not only visit the vendor to take advantage of their deals, but purchase products that are relevant to what was played. An example would be unlocking a reward from an Ubisoft game and receiving a coupon that would give the player a percentage off their next purchase from the publisher’s catalogue. This is something they’re working out as currently they’re only dealing with credit, but it’s a feature that more publishers will more than likely take advantage of.

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Green Man Gaming isn’t just a digital service as they’ve been selling physical goods in the UK for the past while. With this, GMG is looking to slowly transition into the digital side of console gaming, hoping to start sell titles on home systems such as PS4 and Xbox One in the near future. It will no doubt be a challenging venture for the small company to break into an untapped marketplace, but it’s definitely an intriguing proposition that could really rank GMG as a universally renowned merchant. Additionally, they’re also looking to implement their rewards program into this advancement, but when this will come about is still up in the air for now.

Green Man Gaming has always offered incredible deals, and with Playfire’s integration in giving out credit to those who simply wish to play PC games, they only strengthen themselves in the competitive marketplace. This beta phase will be going on for quite some time, Cairns jokingly compared it to Gmail’s beta, but they will be building off the feedback from both users and publishers to create the most beneficial service. With these advancements and promises, Green Man Gaming has an intriguing future ahead of themselves, hopefully shaping how we play and buy games.