Interview with Ubisoft on online gaming fraud and insights into the grey market

Thursday 11 April 2019 08:34 CET | Interview

Sithy Phoutchanthavongsa: In terms of fraud detection, the most important is to have a consistent payment method strategy for each geographical area

What are the main types of fraud in the online gaming industry and what transaction types are the most affected?

As the gaming industry becomes increasingly digital, it becomes exponentially exposed, especially at a transactional level. While the videogame consumer population is particularly aware of grey markets and tricks, fraudulent channels of retail are easy to put in place. Well-informed final customers just need to give the fraudster their player account credentials so the fraudster can process the transaction on their behalf with a stolen payment method.

All of these points make the fraud on gaming products attractive to fraudsters. Immediate consumable digital contents, like in-game currency, are the most popular products among fraudsters. In that case, it is not only about the financial impact, but this situation also brings inequity between players who can afford to buy extra content to be more competitive and those who can’t or don’t.

Given the international coverage, what insights can you share with us regarding fraud across different countries?

Because most of the defrauded products are digital content, the underground videogames market is global.
It is very important to be able to display a consistent product pricing list all over the world as well as it is important to be able to properly identify the customer’s country. This way you will avoid customers from strong currency countries buying on softer currency countries.

In terms of fraud detection, the most important is to have a consistent payment method strategy for each geographical area. Then you should be aware of all the specificities related to the main payment methods. Is it easy to do a chargeback? What is required to open the payment account? How does the payer log in his account?

For example, 3-D Secure in Europe is reliable, while the chargeback process is easier in North America. Some countries tend to use payment methods that can be more trustworthy because they need more authentication clearances during the account creation process, or during the transaction step itself.

Take all of these specificities and build a tailored fraud strategy according to each area.

What are the best fraud prevention strategies for securing both the online gaming platforms and the consumers’ data? Is there any particular authentication method that you recommend?

During the real-time scoring, it is important to couple both a wide enough metrics panel and the knowledge you have on the player.
We consider that whatever metrics say about the customer during the transaction, it always has to be contextualised by the data on players’ habits, stats, history.

Reactivity is also key and has to be optimum; because digital transactions are instant delivery, it is important to put in place dynamic tools and rules that can be updated very quickly, such as with machine learning systems.

As for the player’s data protection, Ubisoft takes the GDPR rules very seriously. We have a dedicated team in place to help apply it everywhere it is needed, every step of the way, and maintain our policy up to date.

When it comes to authentication, any type of two-factor authentication is recommended, whether by mobile or email. On top of regular transaction authentications, education is key. Providing players with all the necessary information to understand why and how to protect their account can help change their habits.

How are you dealing with false positives and false negatives? What challenges do you encounter in this matter?

Obviously, using relevant analytics tools and defining and monitoring the appropriate metrics helps. Yet, the importance of communication and collaboration with teams outside of the fraud department should not be underestimated: customer service or business operational teams can definitely help reduce false positives on the condition to build an efficient channel of knowledge sharing and information escalation. This is a great way to reduce friction generated by false judgement.

At Ubisoft, our main challenge is that, with over 14,000 employees located in more than 30 countries, we need to keep everybody on the same page and streamline feedback collection.

We encourage fraud prevention experts to share their knowledge with their peers in order to bring a positive impact on the online business environment. Therefore, what advice can you give to other merchants so they can keep their business secure and their customers loyal?

Ubisoft’s ambition is to maintain a direct and active channel with players. The best tools for fraud detection would never be complete without both a good knowledge of players and a consistent external/customer communication. The benefits of fair play between players, the importance of securing their accounts, and not buying from unauthorised resellers, the reasons for limiting friendly fraud behaviours. All of the above should be brought to players’ awareness in an educative and appropriate way. This combination is key for fraud mitigation success.

About Sithy Phoutchanthavongsa

Sithy is the fraud expert at Ubisoft. He has 10 years of experience in fraud detection and prevention strategy performed within banking and ecommerce sectors, first as part of the business teams and then as a fraud service provider. He joined the Ubisoft ecommerce team in 2016. His mission is to define Ubisoft’s fraud strategy and to dig out and respond to any risk related topics.


About Ubisoft

Ubisoft is a leading creator, publisher, and distributor of interactive entertainment and services, with a rich portfolio of world-renowned brands, including Assassin’s Creed, Just Dance, Tom Clancy’s video game series, Rayman, Far Cry and Watch Dogs. The teams throughout Ubisoft’s worldwide network of studios and business offices are committed to delivering original and memorable gaming experiences across all popular platforms, including consoles, mobile phones, tablets and PCs.

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Keywords: Ubisoft, gaming, fraud prevention, authentication, payment methods
Countries: World

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