Online casino is going from strength to strength. From the variety of content produced in 2017, especially those games that tied into big film releases and popular franchises, to the growing number of players. Reports state that in the UK in 2016, 33% of all gambling revenue was made from online casinos. The growing technology hinted at in other aspects of gaming is, has already made the leap over to iGaming, and it shows us that 2018 is going to be another strong year for online casinos. The various iGaming events have already hinted at what we can expect from online casino, so here are five of the top trends to watch out for in 2018.
Virtual Reality Gaming
There can be no talk about gaming without mentioning the growing commerciality of virtual reality (VR) software. The Facebook-owned Oculus and the Valve Corporation’s Steam digital platform are both releasing games that utilise VR technology. In fact, mobile AR technology is set to drive the now $108 billion VR market by 2021, furthering what can be done on both mobile and desktop platforms. The ICE Totally Gaming conference even featured developers revealing the VR they planned to roll out by year-end, which looks set to massively take off into 2018.
The price of an Oculus Rift headset was slashed dramatically in summer 2017 to just $399, which is bringing VR technology further and further into people’s homes. Virtual reality gaming on casino would no doubt further enhance the experience to be extremely immersive and reflect that of an actual casino. The technology would enable multiple players to play and affect what one another experiences. Leading casino game developers have already invested in this technology, with Microgaming showcasing its VR roulette demo in ICE Totally Gaming 2016.
Twitch – a digital platform for gaming – has a reported 45 million people a month tuning in to either play games or spectate others’ games. Facebook Live has increased its capabilities – with an increase of 330% of search queries including it since 2016, and with a reported $50 million being paid to celebrities to perform marketing tasks using the platform. Live technology has increased – and will continue to into 2018. For online casino, this means that the current trend of live dealers is not only going strong but also looking into ways to expand in new ways.
In addition to multiple expansions of the range and variants of table games available in live format, we've recently seen new games enter the platform as well. For instance, Dream Catcher live is already available online and readily to play available at casino sites, utilizing the streaming technology to have the Wheel of Fortune-like game presented by a real live host. Exhibitors at 2018’s ICE Totally Gaming are likely to be unveiling the advancements on the current live technology available through online casino. The push from seeing what competitors are doing will help bring trends to market quicker and provide consumers with a varied range of the highest quality examples of each trend.
Skills-Based Casino Gaming
While some slot games are based primarily on the luck of the draw – which encourages a lot of fans who want a stress-free game that is beyond their control – casinos are seeing a rise in games that require more strategy. Poker, for example, requires a lot of strategy as it stands and luck alone won’t help, especially as the game progresses. The Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2017, which culminated in October, focused on the next year’s improvements for casino gaming.
Skills-based gaming for both on and offline casinos were featured heavily. Consisting of a team of mathematicians, Probability Gaming showcased some of the skills-based games they have been developing, which combine the standard play with an additional bit of strategizing. These will specifically be targeting newer online gamers who will value more of a challenge in their gaming, as opposed to stalwart gamers who are less used to playing other kinds of games that force the player to think as much.
Gamification - which grew in earnest in 2017 – involves the process of immersing the player completely in the online game they are playing. Players will be able to compete for varied rewards and will be able to see and attempt to make the leaderboards for the game against others they can see playing. The concept of gamification is to try to give fans of the game something different in their online slot game as a way to fight any saturation in the market and any competition from console or mobile gaming.
Traditionally used in marketing as a way to entice consumers towards a brand through fun activities (e.g. polls being used on Twitter; the basketball game on Facebook Messenger), gamification can allow for users to test out different variants of online casino games before they commit to playing, encourage them to play more and give them goals to work towards.
More Content Push
While online casinos are equally using content from movies, other games, TV shows etc. in their games alongside traditional themes, the trend will likely dip in favour of content. Some casinos are even offering content of the game as a prize, such as little themed videos that play after certain slot wins. The push for content comes from the global leaning on content, which will continue to be a trend going into 2018.
While current trends have already been used for online casino games, for example in the branded Game of Thrones slot by Microgaming, the big trends in general of 2018 will likely influence the exact content of some of the branded slots as a way to cross-promote the offerings.
While 2018 promises to advance how online casinos can be played, a lot of the changes came from developments from 2017. As with many things, continual improvements ensure the industry remains fresh and the existing fans and possible new fans are given something interesting that they will enjoy.