Fortnite is still very popular.

Above: Fortnite.

Image Credit: Epic Games

Wiskirchen: That kind of tees up the next poll question. Do you think (and I’ll ask the audience so that they can go to their iPads), do you think gaming companies have what it takes to outplay fraudsters and prevent fraud better than other industries? It’s a yes/no question, but I’ll go and ask the panel the same question. Dean, what do you think? Do you think game companies have what it takes to outplay fraudsters?

Takahashi: You know, I kind of have a mixed opinion about that. No, I don’t think it’s possible for outright defeat. They just have to stay ahead of them.

Wiskirchen: Nina, what about you?

Diatchenko: I would say that just as you study the fraudsters in your system, they study you. And they’re not going to stop studying and find out other ways to try to get into your system so you need to go to these conferences to talk to your peers, keep learning. Something that might have been prevalent a year ago — carding, whatever you have it. It’s gonna be different somehow. That’s why people out here are talking about AI, machine learning because they’re gonna be able to adapt to change. Humans can adapt to change, too, so keep upping your skill set for sure.


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Wiskirchen: Scott, how about you?

Adams: Really good, same thing. I’m going to very much disagree with this. I do think game companies do have the ability to beat the fraudsters. But, basically, what I said separately — we have to work together. We have to share data, and we also have to work with other outside groups. With people like me, people like Kount, and all the companies that you see over at the exhibit hall. Individually, it’s tough because as if I’m say, working at Epic, they see a lot of transactions, but they don’t see them all.

So, you need other parties involved that they see multiple, more transactions than we do as an individual merchant. So, if we work together as merchants, as an industry, we can definitely beat it. As Nina said, there’s whole buildings, businesses built around defrauding American companies, defrauding game companies over in China, Eastern bloc countries. We have to remember that they are talking with each other. Why aren’t we?

Wiskirchen: And that’s Scott, who zealously disagrees with the audience who came in at 79 percent who don’t think that gaming companies have what it takes to beat fraudsters. And 21 percent do. So, with that, we have very little time left and have one last question for the entire panel. I’ll start with Scott and work our way down to Dean. What are some of the best practices that gaming companies can deploy to mitigate fraud? Just some advice to everyone in the audience in this space.

Adams: We don’t have a lot of time but a few things — we mentioned here a lot about account security, I think we need to do a better job of that. Email verification, two-factor authentication, and gating — it doesn’t have to be at sign up. I think everyone needs to be using some form of preforce protection as well. It could be as simple as putting a small delay or could be a much more advanced solution like device ID at sign-on and also at the transaction level.

Above: Left to right: Nina Diatchenko of Linden Lab, Brad Wiskirchen of Kount, and Scott Adams of FraudPVP.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Diatchenko: Just to bring it back, Know Your Customer, KYC. You need to know who you’re expecting to be good and give them … we want them to spend. Figure out who your good customers are and let them spend and then figure out who the bad ones are and give them a lot of friction. Then, I would say, invest in your team. Have conversations with people outside of the fraud team. Make sure you have legal, CEO knows what’s going on. You all have the same goal, to provide the best experience with as little risk as you’re willing to accept.

Adams: To weigh in on top of that — she went to CEO, to legal. I would go the other way from what other companies think, talk to your customer support. Talk to player support. They talk to your customers every day, all day. I like to look at them as the front lines.

Diatchenko: Yeah, agreed.

Takahashi: I am encouraged by some technologies that are coming. Helpshift has some very interesting automated help functions that they have built into FAQs for games, and they can handle complaints from lots of people and spot things much more quickly.

Then, also blockchain technology seems like it has to apply here in a big way. I mentioned this problem earlier of player entitlement, and you know the notion that they’re always fighting with the game companies over what they own and what should be theirs.

And blockchain with things like non-fungible tokens and uniquely identifiable collectibles that you can say for sure belong to a particular gamer, and even that gamer say, wants to leave and take that thing to another game, blockchain can settle that kind of question or dispute. So, the transparency, security of blockchain, I think, is very encouraging, and there’s a company startup out there out called Authentic out of Scandinavia. They’re using both blockchain and face identification to figure out whether somebody, let’s say on Twitter, is a problem. As someone who’s been banned from playing a game, whether they’re trying to come back and just open another account. And Authentic thinks they’ve found a way to stop that. So, I’m encouraged by some of the tech that is coming in.

Wiskirchen: Well, Scott, Nina, Dean, thank you very much. Appreciate your time and comments and thank you all.

Disclosure: The organizers of the session paid my way to Las Vegas. Our coverage remains objective.

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