Operator game lobbies are changing with the addition of new and innovative content. From Megaways to XtraWays, developers are creating mechanics, features and formats designed to engage the next generation of player and deliver new and exciting experiences to existing customers. 

At the cutting edge of this push are skill-based arcade games, which combine real-money wagering with gameplay more akin to mobile and video games. They are proving to be hugely popular with a range of player demographics, taking session times and game revenues to new highs. 

In this roundtable, Ben McDonagh, CEO of Green Jade Games, Shalva Bukia, product director at Spribe, and Lloyd Purser, COO of FunFair, take a closer look at skill-based arcade games, the demographics they appeal to and how operators can leverage the full potential they have to offer.

CasinoBeats: What marketing opportunities do skill-based games open up?

BM: Operators can align themselves to a live, competitive and engaging entertainment experience through the facilitation of online qualifiers to different arcade game competitions. They can completely change the narrative and conversations with their customers. 

Arcade games are an inherently social experience. Your players could be less focused on the monetary result and more interested in the game play, sharing how one has completed a technically difficult level and how another did it differently. 

Or, you might be playing a quiz game for cash and inviting your friends around you to answer the tough ones with you. The opportunities are varied and endless. 

SB: Our operators are seeing amazing results when working with casino live streaming channels as they easily catch attention while the element of interactivity and control makes them a good show to watch. 

LP: Having a more comprehensive range of games with differing features and playstyles allows casinos to market themselves to a much wider audience and this should lower acquisition costs. And with differing content, it enables a broader range of features reducing player churn as they can try a range of different games from within the same casino. 

“A big difficulty we have seen is that casinos sometimes struggle to correctly label and position the games”

Lloyd Purser, COO of Funfair.

Unlike some slots which decay quickly, we see a very high level of repeat play on our multiplayer games which for us is the key metric of success, as the volumes will increase with more education and distribution.  

CB: How can operators leverage the full potential of arcade games? 

LP: A big difficulty we have seen is that casinos sometimes struggle to correctly label and position the games within the casino so the customers know what experience they are getting. Multiplayer style games, like crash, are a different beast to something like Street Fighter II by NetEnt, where technically both look like arcade games. 

When we launched our first game, it was present in four categories (new, slots, tables and other) so how does a player identify what they’re going to play? This is a key issue for game studios and operators. 

The casinos that have performed the best for us have embraced these features and ensured games have been showcased correctly to highlight their unique differences to educate and ultimately entertain the players better. 

BetVictor for example have an arcade section which has a number of single and multiplayer arcade style games in there.  

BM: Make it a destination experience for the players by engaging with the complementary experiential values such as an arcade player identity – the handle under which players exhibit their social game play but this time, for real money. 

“Technological advances allow the imagination to be the only blocker”

Ben McDonagh, CEO of Green Jade Games.

Focus on the competitive element to the game play where bravado is finally relevant as the players are the ones that have determined the outcome of the game rather than having just gotten lucky. Present the media that supports the game play, too – the streamers and presenters and other players that want to share and educate, or more likely, just boast. 

CB: How will arcade games continue to evolve?

SB: Arcade games’ player base will naturally grow. Since casual games are an inseparable part of gen-z, they will become familiar to more and more new players. I believe multiplayer and social is the next big trend in igaming; we are already seeing this in disruptive ‘crash curve games.’

I think one of the key elements of success in these games is the multiplayer social experience. In today’s world online interactions are a new norm, people like to feel connected.

LP: As the demand and the market grow, we expect to see more features similar to traditional arcade games involving skill, decision-making, and elements of chance, to create a more exciting gaming experience. More akin to true arcade games than perhaps the ‘arcade light’ games of today. 

But change takes time, we’re at the beginning and hope we can help to carve out a new successful vertical in online gaming.   

BM: Technological advances allow the imagination to be the only blocker. However, from AI to a far richer social experience could be future trends, along with stadiums cheering on rival gambling entertainment teams as they face off against each other in a multi-player global phenom arcade game.