Troy Zurawski, Design Works Gaming CEO, talks to CasinoBeats about adapting to differing casino content preferences in the US and Europe.
Our colleagues from Europe’s thriving online casino sector have long told us that content is king. But when it comes to breaking into emerging US markets, we may need to ask if it is also president.
Growth in the few US states which have already regulated online casinos has been nothing short of staggering. New Jersey reported online gaming (casino and poker) revenues of $87.8m in August 2020 – up a remarkable 114 percent year-over-year.
With so much focus on regulation and the race for market share in whichever state chooses to open up next, there have been few opportunities to reflect upon the type of content we are delivering to players.
While the performance of New Jersey might suggest there’s little to be concerned about, I’d argue that we are leaving value on the table if we assume US states will follow Europe’s lead on content.
It is worth considering the very different journeys US states, such as New Jersey, and key European igaming jurisdictions, such as the UK or Sweden, have taken to reach this point.
“Europe’s online casino space has evolved far more organically over the past 25 years”
For many people in the US, casinos are almost synonymous with Las Vegas. The land-based experience is the main point of reference, and most states which are opening to regulated igaming are licensed via established land-based equivalents.
On the other hand, Europe’s online casino space has evolved far more organically over the past 25 years. Many players, particularly the younger ones, have probably never stepped foot in a real world casino.
On the supplier side, major disruptions, such as the launch of the iPhone, provided opportunities for new companies to challenge established incumbents. Focus has shifted from quantity to quality, with big budget slot franchises launching new titles much like a Hollywood blockbuster.
Put these games in front of a US customer whose only experience of a slot machine was during a bachelor party in Vegas and they may not resonate, just as a basic three-reel, one-line game may appear quaint to a 23-year-old in Stockholm who has already pre-ordered a PS5.
Of course, these are very broad categorisations. But the interesting part is that even if we accept them, we are finding that offering players the opposite of what they expect can still be an incredibly powerful tool.
For instance, we have found that classic Vegas-style ‘stepper’ slots have performed extremely well in regulated European markets dominated by AAA blockbuster video slots. Meanwhile, online scratchcards are also enjoying something of a renaissance in Europe.
“Offering a wide range and variety of content has never been more important”
Similarly, US players in regulated states have adapted quickly to the handful of European suppliers which have entered the market and brought their high production values with them.
Rather than focus on the differences, it can be more useful to zero in on approaches to content which can enjoy success both in the US and Europe.
The first of these is nothing new. Offering a wide range and variety of content has never been more important, particularly as technology designed to help serve the right content to the right customer becomes more advanced.
To stand out from the huge volume of content released these days, we have found testing across different environments particularly useful. This is why we only introduce our best-performing content into RMG.
Every single game that we have introduced into RMG has proven success in land-based casinos, social casinos — or both. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation — and increases the odds of success for our operators as well.
Remember, the player preferences we are attempting to categorise are not static, and they can also be moulded.
Offering a wide variety of validated content will always prove a winning formula – regardless of which side of the pond you are sitting.