Gaming forum uses Twilio to pwn scammers and rogues
Time to read: 3 minutes
EpicNPC is the marketplace platform for gamers buying, selling or trading game accounts and services. Through the constant flow and volume of games and services bought, sold and traded, EpicNPC holds a big lead over their competitors in the space. But as the site continues to grow, so too grow challenges of preventing banned members and scammers from accessing the site and swindling EpicNPC’s 495,000 members. That’s why they chose Twilio Verify to help provide better validation of new accounts and reduce fraud for their members.
Getting into the Game
When online auction leader Ebay disallowed the sale of virtual items on their website, EpicNPC saw market opportunity. “We started as an auction site a lot like Ebay was, allowing gamers to buy or sell their virtual products,” said founder and CEO Mike Zihal. “But we realized we wanted a better experience for gamers, and over time we morphed into a community forum as well as a marketplace.”
“We don’t buy or sell anything ourselves,” added Zihal. “We provide the platform for our sellers. We provide advertising, upgrades and features that allow gamers to more easily sell items. For instance, sellers pay for upgrades to make ads more visible to buyers, or get certain perks for their accounts.”
Today, EpicNPC does very well in a competitive market. “We support more games than any of our competitors, Zihal told us recently. “We have about a thousand games that users can search for, and our competitors have only about a hundred.” He pointed out that EpicNPC gets about 300 new members per day, with about half of those new members immediately buying, selling, trading or communicating in the forums.
Staving off the Scammers with Twilio
Reaching such a high level of success doesn’t come without challenges. EpicNPC is constantly battling to keep unwanted scammers or previously banned users off their site. They rely heavily upon a monitoring system to ensure that new members are legitimate and not known ‘bad actors’. They also rely on phone authentication from Twilio.
Prior to using Twilio, EpicNPC worked with another phone authentication company, but decided to switch because they liked the features and more robust data Twilio is able to deliver.
“Before we switched to Twilio, we had been doing phone verification with another company, but our biggest concern was that they were not innovating,” recalls Zihal. “We had been with them for almost two years and they really never updated any of the security features. We looked at Twilio and found that they provide much more useful information. We’re now able to block people using certain types of service providers, like VOIP, so we have more tools to monitor track and block the types of users we don’t want.”
How They Got There
Integrating Twilio Verify was painless, Zihal says. “We did it ourselves and were able to do it quickly; in about a day or two.”
Now, anyone looking to sell or buy on the EpicNPC site has to verify their phone through Twilio first before they can register on the site and begin making sale threads. The EpicNPC team has verified more than 36,000 members using Twilio phone authentication in the last three months.
“We were a little worried that adding another step to the registration process could cause friction for new users,” remembers Zihal. “But we found that wasn’t the case—it hasn’t slowed our growth at all.”
And, he added, “We don’t get a lot of feedback about our phone system but we know we get far fewer complaints than we used to. Pre-Twilio, we would get about five complaints a day that the verification call wasn’t coming. Since we switched to Twilio, that number has dropped to close to zero.”
What’s Next for EpicNPC
The site is still growing, reaching a couple of key milestones in recent months. “EpicNPC recently passed five million posts and a million unique sales on the site,” said Zihal, proudly. “We don’t market ourselves; we’re well known in the gaming community for those who have bought and sold items in the past.” As they grow, they still need to focus on better securing user accounts. In 2017, the company plans to integrate Twilio 2FA into the platform. “We’re currently using Google Authenticator, but we like the features and upgrades that Twilio offers.”