Founded in 2001, the French video game publishing company Ankama is continuing to make headway thanks to its proven diversification strategy. After having enjoyed rapid success with the release of the online game Dofus in 2004, the French publisher has added several strings to its bow: mobile phone games, board games, animated series, tie-in products, graphic novels and mangas. Today, Ankama boasts several hundred thousand players connected each month. Its audience - essentially French-speaking - stretches over Europe and onto the American continent.
In order to manage its various payment flows, Ankama has adopted a multi-PSP strategy, piloted by the ProcessOut orchestrator. However, this doesn’t prevent the publisher from following its payment performance very closely, essential for its economic model.
We met Lucie Pica, Ankama’s payment manager, to look back on her expectations and collaboration with Payplug.
How would you summarise Ankama’s development strategy in a market as competitive as the Gaming market?
Lucie Pica: It’s the intersection of two rationales: transmedia and independent creation.
Since 2004, Ankama has progressively created a whole universe expressed via different media: video games, film, animated serie, board games, graphic novels, novels and, recently, webtoons. Each new publication feeds this universe by bringing in extra details about the life of a character, exploring a new era in history and giving a variety of experiences in a specific Lore: the Krosmoz. These crossover experiences come together in the notion of “transmedia” and offer as many entry points as new players. I think it’s less a strategy than a real desire to share stories... and there is an audience for these stories!
But beware, not all Ankama publications are systematically turned towards the Krosmoz. We are also continuing to expand our catalogue beyond Krosmoz by collaborating with independent authors (of graphic novels, boardgames etc.) and by drawing on our creative studio in Japan. Titles such as Princess Dragon (a film) or Carbon and Silicium (graphic novels) are thus among the highlights of 2022, which you can enjoy without any prior knowledge of our gaming universe. And perhaps they’ll make you curious about our other titles!
You’ve opted for a multi-PSP logic, orchestrated by ProcessOut. What does this model offer you?
L.P. Globally, we know that collaborating with local acquirers ensures better conversion for us, which is why diversification in payment service providers (PSPs) is essential. Moreover, we wanted to work with an anti-fraud tool common to all our service providers. We therefore called on ProcessOut to orchestrate our various payment flows, both domestic and international, and to optimise our frictionless requests, all this in complete security with Ravelin. With this strategy, we gained 3 conversion points between 2018 and 2022 on euro payments* (scope of unregistered cards).
Upstream of performance, the first advantage of orchestration can be found in the unique integration of PSPs via a single API, while without an orchestrator, we should have carried out as many integrations as PSPs, with everything that implies in man time and possible technical irritations.
From now on, we’re counting on ProcessOut to establish smart routing on the bank card scope: thanks to their AI machine learning, each transaction will be sent to the PSP deemed to be the best performing. Finally, a consequence of smart routing will be an automatic retry, with payment presentation to another PSP should the first one fail.
Practically, how has Payplug’s performance promise translated into your payments?
L. P. We began our collaboration in mid-2021. I remember that at the time, Payplug was already managing strong customer authentication exemptions according to the 3DS2 v2 protocol, which has turned out to be very reassuring. Since the autumn of 2022 and the full application of the protocol on our side, we direct “small basket” payments in euros by bank card to Payplug - which are mainly dealt with as frictionless within the context of PSD2 exemptions - as well as our players’ tokenised card transactions which have to go through strong customer authentication (SCA mandate).
I should say that we have had to define our own routing rules in a transitory situation, during the time required for installing smart routing of flows with our orchestrator, in compliance with PSD2.
During this intermediary phase, we had already noted Payplug’s expertise and performance:
- on a monthly volume of around 70,000 transactions sent, with an average basket of around 10 €, Payplug has shown a net acceptance rate of 96%** (for the period September 2022 - February 2023);
- 93%** of our frictionless requests are accepted by issuers, which compensates for the joint commitment by Ankama and Payplug regarding the fight against fraud.
How precious will Payplug’s expertise be for the future?
L. P. We chose Payplug for its expertise in bank card payments. From the beginning, Antoine, our customer success manager, gave great advice, both supporting us in the application of the PSD2 and helping us to better grasp the payment world in general. Eric, service delivery manager, has also been available for all our technical questions.
Payplug gives us specific data on our payment performance, which we can review during our monthly business reviews. It’s the opportunity to take advantage of their payment expertise in order to permanently adapt our strategy in this area.
When we have more refined data from the smart routing of payment flows, the ProcessOut analytics show us which are the PSPs which are helping us keep to a good pace. In fact, data is a very important subject for us. We are committed to hosting our player community by regularly organising special events. Rhythm is key to creating and maintaining this commitment; this is why payments have to be fluid for players, whether they want to unlock subscription mode (which is more dense) or purchase our virtual money, which is useful for exchanges between players.
Like our other PSPs, Payplug will have a card to play regarding smart routing regulations. See you again in a few months for further feedback!
* Ankama data, 2023
** Payplug data, 2023
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