Few digital and online sectors have experienced such a consistent level of growth as the gambling industry, which continues to expand and rise in prominence throughout the world.
Quick to join the internet era when that began to boom in the mid-to-late 1990’s, the most established online gambling companies have enjoyed massive revenues and profits. When technology improved and converted mobile phones into far more than just convenient talking devices, the industry shifted focus again, successfully joining the smartphone and tablet era.
Just before the end of last year, an extensive global online gambling market report was published, with predictions estimating the industry will have a total market size of almost $67 billion by 2025. The key reason for that growth is the embracing of technological changes, which leads us to looking at important areas of focus over the next year and beyond.
Greater emphasis towards niche gaming
More often than not when browsing through various online casino and betting sites, they tend to be a jack of all trades, offering a combination of sports betting alongside the whole gamut of casino games, with online poker and slots amongst the most popular. However, there is a growing trend of that beginning to change, with some gambling operators recognizing that focus on specific niches can be equally popular with their customers.
Online gaming sites like 888ladies bingo have shown that focus on particular gaming genres can work, rejuvenating traditional bingo with numerous variants of the classic game, along with making the most of a booming mobile gaming market. Despite initial thoughts that bingo might not convert well in the digital age, online versions of the game are now able to recapture much of the social interaction elements, which originally made bingo popular at bricks-and-mortar venues in the past.
For such a large and internationally recognised gaming operator who choose to focus on niches, as they have with other gambling markets already, it’s a clear indication the market itself continues to evolve. Since the business was founded in 1997, the 888 brand now features gaming sites and mobile apps dedicated to casinos, poker, and sports, while bingo is the most recent addition. Undoubtedly, it’s a trend that other gambling operators are keen to follow.
It is expected that the gambling industry will see more growth of niche-specific sites specializing in one game, like bingo.
The appearance of hyper casualization in casino gaming
Over the last several years and closely following the boom in mobile gaming, a relatively new term to describe certain games has been coined, with ‘hyper casualization’ becoming the latest buzzword for an entirely new breed of gaming releases. Essentially, the emphasis for developers has been to launch quick-to-produce and simple-to-play games, which are often free-to-play, albeit with monetization mechanics such as in-game advertising or micro-transactions, contributing to their overall economic success.
Hyper casualization of games continues to evolve, since first becoming a recognized as a niche genre of gaming since around 2014. Highlighting this relatively new genre has now become a leading category in mobile game downloads, the genre itself has been capable of adapting and reinventing itself with relative ease, constantly switching focus to embrace the latest and most engaging trends.
That has undoubtedly caught the attention of the online gambling industry, which is increasingly featuring hyper casualization concepts, amongst the latest games being released via their platforms. Having already embrace the concept of casual gaming, there’s a growing emphasis to produce games with more integral features, such as slots with more interactive or skill-based elements, rather than the reliance of pure chance. Engagement is the key to the success of any casino game, which makes hyper casualization ideally suited.
Increased use of AR and VR technology
For the last decade and possibly longer, tech boffins and experts have constantly hailed Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality as the next big things in gaming. Nevertheless, and excusing the pun, the true reality is that VR and AR have taken their sweet time reaching anywhere near the predicted levels of adoption. Arguably, the most successful game commercially has been Pokémon GO, which became an instant hit upon launch in 2016, going on to generate more than $1 billion in revenues for 2020 alone, with lifetime revenue surpassing $4 billion.
Utilizing VR and AR technology, Pokémon Go was a global success and is now estimated to have generated over $1billion in revenues just from last year.
Elsewhere, the true potential of VR and AR technology has yet to be fully exploited, although developers have continued to market games and their efforts are finally starting to reap rewards. Now the hardware and gadgetry required by consumers has become far cheaper to buy, increasingly more people are embracing this exciting area of gaming. Although the gambling industry has always kept its finger on the pulse of AR and VR, this year could see a much bigger move towards adoption and integration of this gaming technology.
While there have already been plenty of games touching on the virtual experience, such as visually enticing 3D rendered poker or blackjack tables, and roulette games that can be live-streamed with real croupiers, VR and AR opens a whole new virtual realm of possibilities. Imagine walking through highly detailed VR emulations of world famous casino locations, or maybe visiting an AR bingo hall complete with caller. Such concepts are increasingly appealing to gambling sites and gamers alike.
Considering how innovative and creative the gambling industry has been over the last two decades, there’s no doubt that will continue in the coming year and the decades to come. Having often become pioneers in developing software that has influenced other areas of gaming, the gambling industry itself is also noted for selectively adopting the best ideas from elsewhere.
It’s this flexibility and willingness to evolve, maintaining the same pace as the latest technological innovations, that will ensure continued growth and more widespread expansion.