As intriguing as Peach Fuzz, fig leaves and multi-sensory restaurants may be, our professional interest should only be occupied by the trends that may be developing within our industry. In our recent issue, No.36, under the headline Scream if you want to go faster, we took a look at some of the more ‘macro’ elements worthy of consideration. Here, the focus is more sector/product specific.
Mobile Dominance (again!)
Mobile participation accounts for over 70% of online gambling, including sports bets, casino games, bingo, lotteries and other types of bets. This huge figure will only grow further as access to the internet and the introduction of new gaming concepts also grows. According to Statista, almost 65% of the planet’s population has access to the Internet, and the most active audience for mobile betting is young people under 35 years of age.
Mobile gaming offers convenience and affordability to millions without access to other devices or home internet. In developing countries, where satellite-powered mobile internet is the main source, gambling on mobile devices is dominant. In Kenya, mobile bets account for 88% of all online bets.
But rapid growth is also continuing in first world markets. In Europe, the same figure sits at 55% and by 2026 is predicted to be over 60%. And in the exploding new US market, 75% of sports bettors place bets via mobile devices.
Live Casino (again!)
No look ahead would be complete without mentioning Live Casino. Although examined previously, this has already evolved into an iGaming sector in its own right and is unquestionably the fastest growing form of casino gaming. In 2024, the pace will accelerate further as the genre moves forward with technology. Improvements in production, greater global connectivity and bandwidth, maximisation of mobile-first, more intuitive UI, increased differentiation – all and more will further drive increasing growth of Live Casino.
Esports betting is still in comparative infancy, but 2024 will see it emerged as a significant sector in its own right, alongside sports betting rather than a subset of it. The global popularity of competitive video gaming continues to grow, attracting a new and different audience, providing the betting industry with access to a younger and previously untapped market. And in gambling terms, this audience is largely unique.
Esports betting is seamlessly aligned with the digital age. Dominated by specific live streaming platforms offering a host of real-time features, the esports community is being increasingly immersed in the world of betting. Cross-industry collaborations between esports and iGaming platforms are attracting waves of new users and the gap between traditional betting and video gamers is closing all the time.
Live streaming enables fans and bettors to actively engage with one another, and with players, increasing the excitement and building a true sense of community. Spectators are no longer passive, but are actively involved like in no other genre, and this heightened engagement is sure to deliver great rewards.
Speaking at last September’s SBC Barcelona Summit, Anthony Gaud, CEO of GaudHammer Gaming, echoed the view that if tackled correctly, a marriage between esports and iGaming could revolutionise the gambling industry and carry it into modern age of entertainment.
The hybridization of game genres, combining elements from different genres to create gameplay experiences, will allow developers to differentiate themselves and achieve competitive advantage by delivering more depth and more diverse player choices.
Gaud believes that “We are on the brink of a new industry, the merger of gambling with video games, the world’s biggest entertainment industry.”
He believes that video games bring a whole new level of engagement and excitement to the gambling industry. We have only just begun to imagine how entertainment and wagering will converge in the future. The multiplayer video game experience, combining elements of slots and popular video games, will only benefit from close collaboration.
Slot machines are complex systems, with the balances between stakes and prizes a science all of its own. Alongside this, player motivations, engagement methodology and the dynamics of group play are video game specialisations. Marrying these two skillsets within a single publicly released will emerge as a significant category in the iGaming space, as interaction with others is a priority for the younger and upcoming demographic groups.
Irrespective of geographic location or demographic status, new markets invariably mean new players, new environments and new cultures and preferences. As the industry expands into territories that were previously unavailable, where social and leisure tastes are vastly different to traditional or established markets, the nature of demand and supply will inevitably change.
Providers will need to understand and embrace these differences more than ever before, and far greater regional diversity will be the result. And we will see, and need to provide, greater variation of games and game genres across different countries, cultures and languages than ever before.
Regional diversity will offer more relevant and authentic gaming experience to these new audiences, with greater resonance and acceptance. Localised and customised games, developed and packaged specifically for particular regions, have long been a factor within the industry, but this requirement will expand hugely over the coming months and years, as operators and players in new and emerging markets demand products that are more than modified versions of their established market counterparts.
This shift will create exciting opportunities for developers with the foresight and commitment to respect and embrace the ever-increasing cultural diversity of the wider global market, in partnership with passionate local operators, platforms and publishers.
The demand for, and supply of, game styles and genres that cater for specific interests and preferences is also likely to be a growth area, going forwards. As technologies advance, the speed of game development increases whilst the unit costs can, in theory, decline. In the past, time and cost have been obstacles to projects that may have limited appeal, but these restrictions may now be easing.
Niche products, if well researched and selected, can deliver fan bases that are more enthusiastic and loyal than those in the mainstream audience. This means a lower barrier to entry in terms of player acceptance and, most likely, far less competition.
For smaller, independent developers, producing traditionally styled games or themes that can compete, but as new markets emerge and established markets become more diversified, opportunities to offer original game mechanics, features and themes, targeting more niche tastes, could – and hopefully will – become a more viable reality than ever before.
An exciting ‘blank canvas’
In conclusion, it has to be said that this summary is largely speculative, partly guesswork, partly hope but also largely based upon wider shifts in technology, demographics, preferences and market access. That ‘mobile-first’ is now a reality, and here to both stay and expand, is a reality. This also delivers levels of global accessibility that are totally unprecedented.
Increasing internet access and usage, never-ending technological advancements, greater competition, the merger and collaboration of different genres and the increasing availability of accessible and secure payment methods also all combine to create an exciting ‘blank canvas’ on which creativity can flourish.
Some of the above may never come to pass, or may burn brightly but briefly, but one thing is certain and that is that the platform now exists for the emergence of new trends ideas to only intensify as the future of gaming, iGaming and betting unfolds.