Shalva Bukia, Product Director at Spribe, says that multiplayer, interactive games are the only way the online gambling industry can compete with other entertainment options.
Traditionally, playing online slot and table games has been a solitary experience with no interactivity whatsoever. Players simply open their favourite games and spin the reels for as long as they continue to be entertained.
But this one-dimensional experience is no longer enough and especially for operators looking to engage new audiences and in particular the lucrative millennial and generation z demographics.
These are people that spend their entertainment hours in highly social worlds where communication and interaction are the foundation of the experience. This includes social media, messenger apps and video and mobile gaming.
This desire for shared experiences gathered pace during the COVID-19 pandemic with multiplayer games becoming increasingly popular. With physical interaction strictly limited, people had to look to entertainment options that allowed for interaction and communication.
This is a trend that has remained even with the worst of the pandemic now behind us. This is a trend that has also impacted the online casino industry.
You just have to look at the increasing popularity of live casino to see that players are moving towards games that offer the option to interact with others while still being able to gamble.
We have also seen a surge in popularity for our series of crash games and in particular our Aviator title. It combines elements of video gameplay with gambling and the ability to play alongside others and communicate via the chat function.
Crash games that are multiplayer and allow players to interact are the first step towards online casino content that can truly compete with the social opportunities provided by other entertainment options like social media.
“It is also important for developers to help drive awareness and educate players”
They also give players an element of control over the outcome of the game, and it is this input that makes mobile and video games so compelling and engrossing to play. Rather than just being along for the ride, the player determines the journey and where it ends.
Traditional slot games, in comparison, offer a passive experience where the player simply clicks “spin” and then waits for the outcome to see if they have won or lost.
But multiplayer, interactive casino games are just the start. Should virtual reality and the metaverse properly enter the mainstream, then online gambling will have to follow.
This opens up tremendous opportunities for online casinos to become a truly immersive digital world that players can explore. This includes being able to interact with other players in the online casino environment as well as enjoying playing multiplayer games together.
Of course, this vision is a long way from being a reality and other online casino brands that have experimented with 3D and virtual reality worlds in the past have had limited success.
That being said, it is clear that consumer preferences are changing, and especially among the next generation of online casino players who have come to expect social interaction to be built into the vast majority of the entertainment options they consume.
This means that operators need to ensure they start to stock casino games that allow for multiplayer play and also enable participants to communicate with each other.
Crash games are the perfect starting point but because they are an entirely new game format, they really require a dedicated lobby and tab.
Operators should also look to run marketing campaigns to help drive awareness among players as to what these games are, how they work and the fun, interactive experience they provide.
It is also important for developers to help drive awareness and educate players about crash games. This includes working closely with affiliates as they are deeply connected to player communities and provide a channel through which to directly connect with players.
Operators that are willing to embrace crash games and give them the positioning they deserve will ultimately be able to engage millennial and generation z players. They will also be able to provide these consumers with a product that not only meets but exceeds their entertainment needs.
In short, online casino needs to get social.