Even a few years ago, playing blackjack or roulette in the bath was ill-advised. Now, with the advent of mobile gaming, it’s a fairly normal thing to do.
Among tech products, mobile’s growth has been unprecedented. At the beginning of last year, Ofcom indicated that 93% of all UK adults own and use a mobile phone of some description (71% have a smartphone), while Statista is predicting year-on-year growth in worldwide mobile ownership of around 2% to 2019.
That latter statistic – 2% – doesn’t sound very exciting. Ownership of mobile devices is well past its saturation point though (there are more smartphones and tablets on Earth than people, according to GSMA Intelligence), which means that the number of devices in the world is growing despite the fact that, statistically speaking, everybody already has one.
With all that in mind, support for mobile isn’t something that businesses can avoid. It’s not so much of an issue for casino, an industry that has been quick to adapt to a more “on the go” style of play, but the onus is on iGaming brands to take advantage of new developments in the niche.
So here are just a few predictions for mobile casino in 2017:
1. Live Dealers Grow in Importance
Live dealers are a powerful lure for players simply because they inject a human element into the sometimes asocial world of online gaming, a scene dominated by multi-tablers and solo players. However, there’s a challenge to overcome – it’s no good hiring a live dealer for an hour a day if a brand’s customers live in different time zones and speak different languages. Casinos need to find a way to accommodate as many people as possible while keeping costs down.
2. Social will Be Key
Similar to the above, elements like leaderboards, chat rooms and multiplayer experiences will become more important for mobile casino in 2017, especially given how much millennials (people born after 1982 and casino’s “white whale”) value social media. In a hypothetical scenario, consider the appeal of a platform that lets users compare bets or join syndicates, form groups for a blackjack game or post their own casino tips for others to read.
3. VIP Schemes Get Personal
Repeat players and big spenders are casino’s lifeline, to the extent that many websites have high-roller bonuses and loyalty schemes to keep them coming back. While personalised experiences already exist, there’s still potential for a more intimate, personalised environment. For example, being able to order a pizza from a bot in the roulette window or to request a lift to a physical casino would keep the punters happy without taking their attention away from the game.
4. Bitcoin Makes a Stand
Recently trumping gold for value and earning support from investors like the Winklevoss Twins and Bill Gross, who are starting to view it as a safe bet in an economic crisis, Bitcoin is putting a rough start to life behind it. The enigmatic token arguably got its first outing as a currency with smaller online casino brands so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to imagine Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention becoming a payment option for larger brands too.
5. Live Gaming Gets Silly
A live feed of a glamorous croupier spinning a roulette wheel isn’t going to pull in the punters forever, especially if there are limited options for interaction between players and dealer; brands need to get creative. For example, setting up themed rooms with dealers in seasonal or fancy dress gives a unique marketing angle around Halloween. Pirates, Christmas, outer space, Ancient Egypt – the possibilities are endless.
6. Mobile VR isn’t Going Anywhere
While some of the more interesting virtual reality (VR) games on the market have come from the casino industry (there’s an app out there that lets players “walk” from slot machine to slot machine in a virtual casino), the technology currently is both poorly understood and lacking commercial viability. Headsets like the Oculus Rift are expensive (>£500) and exclusive products, and that barrier to entry has to come down if VR experiences are to find success in casino.
7. Increased Gamification
Wonderful things that they are, it’s still a bit of a reach to call slot machines a “game” in the same context as Space Invaders or Tomb Raider, and their simplicity is rapidly becoming a concern for casinos trying to get a new generation on board. More arcade, skill-based games, and even personalised reels are inevitable going forward. Imagine defeating enemies or clearing rows of jewels to earn a prize instead of petitioning Lady Luck. That option doesn’t seem unlikely at all.
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