Picture this: you’re in a computer game, wandering through a virtual phantasy world along with your trusted comrades: a feisty, battle-proven dwarf, a fantastic fairy, and a mighty magician. All of a sudden, you see a gang of wild orcs in the distance. And you immediately know two things: There’s going to be a fight – and to stand any chance, you’ll have to get your hands on a new sword – fast!

For you, the engaged player, there are two paths you can take now to purchase this virtual sword as quickly as possible. The first path could look like this:

  • Pause the game
  • Open the browser and go to the game producer’s webstore
  • Look for your credentials
  • Find out that you’ve lost your password and have the store send you a new one via email
  • Log in with your new password
  • Search for the sword and put it into your shopping basket
  • Order the sword
  • Resume the game

I think we can all agree that this procedure is mind-numbingly slow and tedious. Your fellow players might wonder what you’re up to and decide to do something else instead – visit a witch wedding or drown a dragon instead.
Things could be so much easier and faster though:

  • Pause the game
  • Click on a button on your game controller that opens the weaponry options
  • Choose the item and confirm
  • Resume game

After only a few seconds, you hold the shiny new sword in your hand, ready to slay those orcs and impress your team with your new fighting skills.
What we have just outlined represents two modes of transactions, the disconnected and the integrated one.

Mode 1: Separate channels

In the first mode, the computer game is one piece of software running on a game console, the game producer’s web store is another one running on the Internet. Both are entirely different things and not connected at all. If a player wants to do something that requires both applications, he is forced to change the channels manually – i.e., stop the game, move over to the webstore, resume the game. It goes without saying that especially in a complex game where players are immersed and “in character,” it is a real pain to cross those channel barriers. Ultimately, players would rather do without some extra virtual items instead of being so starkly interrupted.

Mode 2: Communication via APIs

api-smallFollowing the second mode, the game and the webstore can communicate with each other. Using APIs, the game can request information about available items in the background and display them in its interface. If the player chooses an item, the game passes the order to the store – also in the background. And because the player has already saved his payment details in the web store, there is no need to enter these somewhere – it just works. In other words, the game and the webstore are still separate entities in this scenario, however, since they are connected through APIs in the background, they can exchange information and create a seamless experience for the player.
If you would like to know more about how modern programming interfaces can be used to connect separate applications, take a look at our API commerce information page. (And then, go back to your game and amaze the pretty princess with your tales of victory.)