There’s no denying that when it comes to Big Tech industries, few have been quite as impactful as the gaming industry.
The global gaming industry has undergone phenomenal growth and development in the past few years. Back in 2019, few would’ve been able to predict just how high the gaming industry’s star would rise. Combined with continued innovation in software, hardware, and digital tech, the power of gaming now makes it the most popular form of at-home entertainment with consumers worldwide.
With a global reach of 3.5 billion people that’s growing with every passing month, gaming has transcended any of the limitations that were placed on it during its early days of emergence. Who would’ve thought that professional video gamers would be generating earnings on a par with A-list celebrities? Or that major music stars would be lining up to play sets in virtual concerts held in gaming metaverses? Gaming is big, and it’s everywhere.
One of the major gaming industry segments that is, in turn, enjoying increased growth and visibility is that of iGaming. A real-money-focused gaming segment, iGaming encompasses everything from online casino and poker games to sports betting, lotteries, bingo and monetary competitions. Since 2018, the segment has also expanded across several states in the US and Canada, which, added to existing iGaming markets across Europe and Asia, brings the projected value of the sector to almost $175 billion (according to Global Newswire).
Like other leading gaming segments, when it comes to tech and innovation, iGaming has long been a power player. After all, one of the key reasons why virtual casinos are now pulling in more users than their brick-and-mortar counterparts is the gaming experience. Online casino games need to be comparable to the premium AAA video games that are currently being pumped out by the mainstream market, so innovation is high on the agenda.
Now, as we move forward into a brand new year, what innovations are around the corner that will play a role in shaping both the present and the future of this burgeoning sector?
Enhanced Gaming Experiences
Online casino platforms like PokerStars Casino are the bread and butter of the global iGaming industry. The current digital versions of casino card and table games like roulette available at such platforms are playable in several different formats – more than would be possible in a brick-and-mortar casino.
Gamers already enjoy immersive graphics, realistic audio and, in some cases, live dealer interactions in these and many other titles. However, advanced tech has the potential to further transform this high-tech gaming experience.
Take Virtual Reality (VR). While it’s still in its infancy in terms of mainstream adoption, nevertheless, VR could generate rapid change in the iGaming industry in a relatively short time frame. It may even play a prominent role in shaping the future of gaming experiences, particularly as entertainment in general moves towards Web 3.0 and the Metaverse.
Alternatively, Augmented Reality (AR) is gaining more traction in mobile gaming experiences. Popularized by 2016’s Pokemon Go, which blended geo-tagging features with digital gameplay, AR has all sorts of interesting implications for iGaming – particularly when it comes to interacting with pre-existing gaming spaces.
Increased Social Engagement
Additionally, iGaming experiences are set to be transformed not just with respect to the type of games that players access, but also how they’re playing these games and who they’re playing them with.
One of the main differences between brick-and-mortar gaming and online casino gaming is that the former is a much more social experience, with trips to the casino seen as an activity that anyone can enjoy. In contrast, remote gaming relies more on single-player activities and can occasionally be misconstrued as an activity only for “serious” players.
With multiplayer games now soaring in popularity across all other leading gaming sectors, even mobile, iGaming is the next sector in line that is taking a more social approach, particularly as operators seek to broaden their reach and engage new demographics.
Interestingly, the rise of socially-focused remote gaming experiences will be boosted by the free-to-play social casino sector. The nature of social casino games and apps is more about playing for fun rather than playing for real money, with gamers competing against each other to be top of virtual leaderboards. The lightweight nature of these games means they’re inherently more appealing to casino novices, and enterprising operators will be able to leverage their appeal to activate new gaming communities.
Mobile First Approach
According to Newzoo, mobile has consistently been the most popular gaming segment since 2018 and now outperforms PC and console gaming combined. With over 68% of global web traffic originating on mobile devices, iGaming operators ignore this booming segment at their peril.
Looking at other popular gaming verticals, including eSports, it’s clear that mobile is now being taken seriously by even the most prestigious gaming brands. Sony has recently invested considerable resources into launching a mobile development studio to develop new games, while Microsoft’s takeover of Activision Blizzard is an unspoken statement on where the tech giant will focus its priorities in 2023.
It’s vital that iGaming brands now take a mobile-first approach to both the development of new experiences and updating existing portfolios. While it can be easier for new start-ups to simply dive in with releasing mobile gaming apps, for existing brands, the focus will likely be on engaging with white-label solutions with responsive web design which will ensure seamless fluidity across all devices.
Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies
Blockchain technology could almost be a match made in heaven for the iGaming industry. Its decentralized nature gives it enhanced levels of security, minimizing fraud and ensuring accountability across the entire chain of transactions. However, it’s taken some time for blockchain and associated cryptocurrencies to truly make a dent in mainstream adoption.
One of the key innovations we’ll likely see come into play during 2023 is that of on-chain wagering, which would see every player’s transaction lodged on the appropriate currency’s blockchain. This would ensure transparency throughout the entire process and potentially reduce transaction processing costs for operators.