Interactive video games are big business. The industry is worth more than $90 billion, which is more than the annual take at the US box office. More and more online pokies are taking inspiration from video games when it comes to graphics, gameplay and themes, but what else can casino game developers learn from the regular video games industry?
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Why pokies take inspiration from video games
There’s a reason for the video game industry’s incremental growth: when you consider the average age of a “gamer” — between 18-35 years of age — there’s a correlation between how that generation views forms of entertainment, and in what ways they want to engage and consume it. Interactive video games simply fit as the type of entertainment that demographic wants, and because of this, it’s important that software providers, particularly online pokies, find ways to adapt.
The pokies are, by design, inherently antisocial. There’s no way around that. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that, as the “Millennial” generation (those born between 1980 and 2000) is increasingly more dominating of the retail and entertainment markets, online slots are becoming decreasingly appealing. The research shows that Millennials are generally more social, as well as more engaged in what they consume. This is why they’re referred to as the “social generation”: they were either born into or grew up around the internet, and are therefore likely to adapt to new online trends faster than other generations. When you consider the nature of the pokies, it’s easy to why Millennials don’t embrace them in the same way those before them do.
It’s also a generation that wants to be part of (or directly influential upon) defining certain experiences. They are the complete opposite of the “passive” consumer, and instead want to be actively engaged in the outcome. This is where interactive video games excel, whereas pokies simply don’t offer this, as players have minimal if any influence on outcomes. Games like Blackjack and Roulette are statistically more common among Millennials, which matches up with the generation being more “social”: these games invite interaction with other players around the tables.
The fact that a generation that grew up with the internet and consumes interactive video games as much as it does turns away from pokies is quite telling for the gaming industry. This demographic, one that is normally so engaged and enthralled by virtual and digital experiences, finds the most “gamey” of casino games to be at odds with their personal interests. It raises a lot of questions about what software providers can learn from video games.
What pokies can learn from video games
Offer more variance in prizes
The best interactive video games tend to be the most popular because they offer variety and depth. As the story progresses and we learn more about the characters and the world the game is set in, we are rewarded with different things that further enhance the experience. Some slots are actually already trying to do this. Gemix from Play’N Go has three different “worlds” that each have different bonuses and winning potential.
The key is to create a pokies experience that is going to change and evolve over the course of a person’s time playing it. Interactive video games are so popular because they offer great value, they allow players to create their own solutions, and they are also transparent and accessible in how a game is won and lost. Gambling elements in video games has already been featured in some titles with this same interactivity, and we hope to see more of it.
Enhance the “social” aspect of a game
Interactive video games are increasingly more likely to include a multiplayer component, or at least something that allows players to interact and/or compete with one another. Pokies don’t offer this, because they insist on keeping the experience exclusive to the player.
There’s little software providers could do to change this, but games that offer chat functions and perhaps even “live” events could help improve and evolve the pokies experience. One thing we’re seeing blow up right now is online streaming, and, in tying in with how Millennials consume content, is a fast and social aspect of interactive video games. Pokies could perhaps offer a stream function for committed players, and perhaps even allow players to upload tips and tricks to get the most out of their time playing.
Improve the overall “casino” environment with VR
Las Vegas in the 21st century is a lot different to the Las Vegas in 1990. The reason for that is because all of the biggest casinos are turning to dining, entertainment and nightlife to attract an increasingly younger audience (once again, Millennials). This generation doesn’t gamble as much as others, and while a lot of that has to do with falling averages of disposal income, it also has to do with casino floor layouts: they simply aren’t “social” and “buzzy” enough. The constant ring of slots machines and the yells of winners at the roulette wheel might say otherwise, but the research shows otherwise: young adults are spending less time on casino floors, and more in other parts of the resort.
So what does this mean for online pokies? Well, part of the appeal of the best online casinos is that “Las Vegas” feel, which is further enhanced by VR. Virtual Reality has really blown up the past few years, and it’s being used in interactive video games to feed into a constant urge for more engagement and interactivity.
One online casino, Slots Million, hosts many of software provider BetSoft’s VR slots, which are based in virtual casino floor layouts that essentially mimic that of an actual casino floor. These can be improved, perhaps by adding more of a social element, or maybe add virtual representations of other players who can socialise and play alongside players.
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