The intersection of gaming and biometrics: A look to the future
By Ryan Balazadeh, Product Manager – Gaming & Digital, Worldline.
Game developers, in their desire to enhance player experience, make every effort to design immersive environments. A key component of this immersion is the integration of seamless payment methods, which allow players to purchase in-game items, upgrade their characters, or access premium content without breaking the flow of their gaming session. As we stand on the brink of introducing biometric methods for a robust and unobtrusive experience, how do current payment systems function?
Payment systems in gaming today
Traditionally, these payment methods have included credit and debit card transactions, which are familiar to most players. They are efficient, quick, and offer a degree of fraud protection that gives players peace of mind. However, they do require players to input their card details, which can be a disruptive process in the middle of a game. Digital wallets allow the secure storage of the player’s card information, allowing for one-click payments that do not interrupt gameplay.
Meanwhile, prepaid and gift cards offer players a means to pay upfront and serve as ideal gifts while cryptocurrencies, though less widespread, provide a highly secure payment option.
These systems have inherent weaknesses, forcing game developers to face the challenge of balancing security with convenience. Credit and debit cards pose a potential risk of fraud, digital wallets can be hacked, prepaid cards can be lost or stolen, and cryptocurrencies, while secure, can be complex to use and are subject to market volatility.
Biometrics as the way forward
To counter these problems, we have slowly been introduced to the possibilities of biometrics through consumer technology in the form of our phones. Measures such as fingerprint scanners and facial recognition systems are commonplace, offering a secure and convenient alternative to traditional systems and the use of passwords and PINs. The level beyond existing methods is fast approaching and is in the form of behavioral biometrics, allowing individuals to be recognized based on the unique behaviors they exhibit. This could be their typing patterns or mouse movements. Natural interaction with a gaming interface by the user creates a unique behavioral signature, which is then analyzed and stored. This signature, in turn, can be used to authenticate the user in subsequent gaming sessions.
For instance, in real-time strategy games, a player may have a distinct way of deploying their resources or commanding their units, creating a pattern that is specific to them. Similarly, in a first-person shooter game, the player’s aiming and shooting techniques can be unique enough to serve as a behavioral biometric identifier.
Benefits to developers
The application of behavioral biometrics in gaming provides a frictionless and robust security layer that developers need. Even if a player’s account is compromised, it would still be challenging for an attacker to mimic the player’s unique gaming behavior, making fraudulent activity much less likely.
Gaming companies can take advantage of this opportunity to enhance security measures without compromising the player’s experience. Making traditional security measures such as passwords or security questions, often seen as disruptive to the gaming experience less necessary.
Player behavior data collection also enables developers to refine game design based on real user interaction. Identifying common patterns or strategies can enable game difficulty adjustment or inform the creation of new content. In addition, these biometric systems can serve as a tool for detecting bots or automated scripts that can disrupt the gaming environment, safeguarding the integrity of the game.
The use of behavioral biometrics promotes a more responsible and transparent handling of user data. As behavioral data is less sensitive than personal or financial information, its use reduces the risk associated with data breaches. Not only protecting players but also enhancing the reputation of gaming companies as responsible stewards of user data.
Obstacles to adoption
The primary challenge in implementing biometrics is ensuring data privacy and compliance with regulations such as GDPR. Companies need to ensure that the user’s unique identification data is collected, stored, and used securely to protect their personal information. Additionally, companies must be able to guarantee the accuracy of data collection by using sophisticated systems. For example, a company should be able to distinguish a mouse movement from a shake or tremble of the hand. This requires accuracy and consistency to ensure that the user’s biometric data is used properly and not abused for other purposes.
Developers must also consider how they present this technology to their players. It is important to explain the benefits of using behavioral biometrics, such as improved security and game performance, without making users feel that their data is being collected or used in an intrusive manner. This can be achieved through transparent communication of the benefits and ways to opt-out of using biometrics.
Towards a secure and seamless future
The advent of behavioral biometrics in the gaming industry marks a crucial turning point to enhance user security without detracting from the gaming experience. By capturing the unique ways players interact with games, from their strategic choices to their controller habits, these technologies offer a robust, unobtrusive layer of security. However, careful, and ethical handling of such personal data is paramount. Developers must prioritize transparency, provide clear opt-out options, and ensure compliance with data privacy regulations. As we tread this new path, behavioral biometrics will become increasingly commonplace in the gaming industry, allowing for more secure and enjoyable experiences.
About the author
Ryan Balazadeh is Product Manager of Gaming & Digital at Worldline.
DISCLAIMER: Biometric Update’s Industry Insights are submitted content. The views expressed in this post are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Biometric Update.