New Gamer-Friendly PayPal System Simplifies Magic Sword Impulse Buying


So, you know how when you’re on Level 13 of that new fantasy themed social game on your smartphone, and you’ve got elves chasing you and a dragon spewing fire up ahead, and the only thing standing between you and that dragon’s demise is that magic sword, and, oh look! There’s one for sale! It’s just a couple bucks (no problem), but you’ll have to pause your game, click into some payment system, sign in, confirm your payment, watch it process your payment, get your confirmation screen … and then finally click back to your game and … now what were you doing? Kind of puts a damper on the fun, no?

No more. PayPal announced Tuesday they are releasing a new tool that will allow social gamers–and other consumers of digital goods–to make their purchases right in-site (or in-app) with one of the most familiar online payment systems. Instead of having to leave whatever environment you’re in–a game, a magazine, a video site–you’ll now be able to make the purchase right from where you are. As long as the site–or app–you’re in has implemented the system, you’ll just click on a link to buy. A pop-up will appear. And if you’ve told the system to keep you logged in to PayPal, you’ll just click an approval button. And then you’re done. PayPal calls this “the online equivalent of dropping a quarter in a slot.”

“You’re really engaged in that experience,” says VP of Global Product Strategy Sam Shrauger. “The last thing you want to have to deal with as a user is a lot of friction to make a purchase.”

The new tool could turbo-charge the digital goods industry. While digital goods–games, virtual goods (like FarmVille tractors), and digital content–have been around for a while, there’s been a growing demand for a frictionless way to buy those items. If magazines or news organizations, for example, start charging for individual articles, you might be willing to pay a quarter to read them. But not if you have to stop what you’re doing and go to another site to execute the transition. But click-and-pay-and-keep-reading? Much more attractive.

[Image by Flickr user Torley]

About the author

E.B. Boyd (@ebboyd) has holed up in conference rooms with pioneers in Silicon Valley and hunkered down in bunkers with soldiers in Afghanistan.