Shopify Brings E-Commerce to Gaming

By John

The mobile gaming industryis thriving, with estimated revenue growth of 18% in 2016.To open up more ways for mobile game companies to monetize games and grow their business, Shopify (NYSE: SHOP) has released a new software development kit (SDK) calledUnity Buy, which will give game makers the capability to add support for sales of physical goods within a game, just like ordering from a retail store.

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Shopify is enabling a new sales channel for video game companies

For instance, the game studio behind the mobile gameAlto's Adventure uses Unity Buy to provide players with an in-game option to buy branded products related to the game using their credit card. These products can range from branded T-shirts, to hats, to stuffed animals.


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Shopify developed its own game, Northside, to demonstrate Unity Buy's capabilities.The game design features a group of islands that players explore to find three other characters. Unity Buy gives players the option to buy pins relating to the characters in the game that the player tries to capture. Other possibilities with Unity Buy are purchases of customized T-shirts with prints depicting in-game accomplishments, or a photo of a scene taken during gameplay.

T-shirt available to purchase in Alto's Adventure using Shopify technology. IMAGE SOURCE: THE SNOWMAN STORE.

Unity Buy is not limited to mobile games, though. Since the software integrates with the Unity game engine -- a multiplatform game development kit that works across mobile, console, and PC -- all games on any platform can include an in-game storefront powered by Shopify to sell merchandise and collectibles to players.

Since Shopify's Unity Buy software integrates with ApplePay, mobile games made for Apple's iOS will greatly benefit.Mobile game makers don't even need any physical products to sell. Shopify's software supports the ability to build a digital storefront that is open for other merchants to come in and sell through a particular game.

Consumer products are an opportunity for the game industry

The possibilities are endless when you consider all of the different types of games available. Most notable for investors of Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA) and Take-Two Interactive(NASDAQ: TTWO) would be potential sales of licensed NFL and NBA merchandise based on EA's Madden NFL and Take-Two's NBA 2K franchise.

Unity Buy could be particularly beneficial for Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), which recently stepped up its ambitions inconsumer products.You might even find yourself one day lying on the couch binging on branded candy while playing Activision Blizzard's Candy Crush.

Another possibility is Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS), owner of the Star Wars brand, partnering with Electronic Arts to sell branded merchandise within the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic mobile game.

The bottom line

Shopify's technology presents a big opportunity for game companies to further capitalize on the hours players spend in games.Bridging e-commerce and gaming is a clever way to connect players more deeply to a game, increase engagement, and provide them with something they can hold in their hand (or wear) that shows off in-game accomplishments, which builds brand awareness for game titles.

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John Ballard owns shares of Activision Blizzard. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Activision Blizzard, Apple, Shopify, Take-Two Interactive, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Electronic Arts. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.