How The Best Gaming Companies Are Using SMS

Published April 01, 2015 by James Winter

SMS in gaming

SMS technology is widespread and has been around for decades. With the majority of the world’s population carrying a mobile device in their pocket, almost everyone has the ability to receive an SMS message. Because of this, major web and social media companies are using SMS as their multi-factor authentication tool of choice, and gaming companies like Wargaming and Blizzard are jumping on the bandwagon.

Many gaming companies are using SMS to help increase the virality of their games by allowing users to invite their friends via downloadable links. In addition to the help SMS can provide for user acquisition, many companies are also turning to SMS for security and authentication purposes. SMS allows users to verify their accounts without using an email address or social network. The user simply receives a code sent to their phone via SMS. Linking a gaming account to a mobile phone number permits users to regain access to their account in the case of any hacking or password issues. SMS provides the convenience and efficiency that gamers are looking for while providing the security gaming publishers need.

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2FA in gaming

These days, two-factor, or multi-factor, authentication (2FA) seem like a no-brainer when it comes to protecting the identity and personal data of web and mobile device users. With our information constantly under attack, companies are doing everything they can to protect their users from spammers, scammers and hackers. This is where SMS steps in to make 2FA even more effective. SMS has an extensive reach and is familiar to most people across the globe. In the gaming world, companies use SMS in a number of different ways in addition to 2FA.

Threats of fraud hit the online gaming and gambling industry on a daily basis. For example, Sony works diligently to fight daily attacks on the PlayStation Network. Scammers intrude and exploit when users and transactions are unable to be authenticated. Hackers lift usernames and passwords to impersonate users for in-game activities. This results in stolen money and upset customers. Despite valiant security efforts and strong passwords, most online and gaming fraud results from complex invasions. Online gamers may have no idea that their usernames and passwords have been compromised.

This is where 2FA comes to the rescue, adding a layer of protection when passwords are easily cracked. 2FA is a two-step process that requires a username and password, as well as an additional layer that only the user has. This could be either a piece of information or a physical token, which discourages potential invaders from being able to steal personal data. They’ll need to know more than a username and password. Larger gaming companies have adopted this method of security and are using SMS to authenticate their users.

2FA meets SMS

Many mobile games and applications use SMS as a form of two-factor authentication. Security becomes increasingly important as even high-profile companies experience breaches. Many companies are beginning to turn to SMS-based authentication and number verification. In this case, the extra layer of protection takes the form of a user’s mobile phone or SMS-capable phone number.

SMS verification services are convenient in that they don’t require any extra tokens or pieces of information. These objects are easily lost or forgotten, causing users another hassle. SMS-based verification requires only that users have their mobile phone. They won’t need to remember or enter in an extra piece of information every time they log in, and this results in happy, satisfied customers. With all of this information, gaming companies can’t afford to pass on SMS.

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SMS and social invites

Mobile gaming companies also use SMS as a type of social invitation to attract additional users. Players can invite friends to download a game via the contact list in their phone. Because of this, the invitation goes only through SMS and doesn’t get lost in another social network account, gaming device or network. Bigger gaming companies, such as Zynga, have even created their own social platform.

Certain games meant to be played with other mobile users are intrinsically viral, as finding a friend to play with is a requirement. While users may connect their games to Facebook or search for a friend’s username, SMS-based verification authenticates them and cuts down on spam by requiring a phone number capable of SMS.

Learn more about how Nexmo can help with SMS multi-factor verification to improve user experience.