Posted by Harry Kane on Tuesday, November 16, 2021
There’s no doubt that the iGaming market in the UK represents big business, and one that continues to grow at an exponential rate. To this end, the gross gaming yield (GGY) soared to £6.9 billion on these shores in the year ending March 2021, with this highlighting incredible growth of 18.4% when compared with the previous 12 months.
However, such numbers are also indicative of an increasingly saturated marketplace, while the same can also be said for the ever-widening selection of casino games available online. We’ll explore this below, while asking what the next generation of casino games is likely to look like.
Casino Games Online – Is it a Case of Quantity or Quality?
There are now hundreds of game developers and software houses active in the iGaming marketplace, with market leaders such as Microgaming, NetEnt and Playtech having blazed a trail for independent studios to follow over the course of the last decade.
Because of this, experts suggests that more than 200 new casino games across multiple verticals are launched each and every month in the UK, with this number heavily dominated by slots (which accounts for more than two-thirds of the online GGY) and arguably lacking in originality and quality in many instances.
Of course, the flip-side of this equation is that there remains a significantly high level of demand for online casino games, particularly as the number of iGaming operators grows exponentially and more unique accounts are opened online. Of course, both casino brands and software firms are sensitive to their customer’s needs and demands, so many have responded to this market in two clear and demonstrable ways.
In the case of Esa Gaming, for example, there’s a clear focus on creating a streamlined and well-balance games’ library for operators, which also focuses on the various lightweight elements of titles, the speed of gameplay and ensuring a significant diversity of return-to-player (RTP) rates.
New and independent operators are also increasingly inclined to develop proprietary gaming software and technology, as while this arguably creates an even more saturated marketplace, it also creates a library of titles that can set a brand apart from even its more established rivals.
This trend is relevant in the global marketplace too, as operators look to cut through similar levels of saturation by better understanding consumer demand and creating intuitive games with a clear point of differentiation.
In the world market, this has seen an increase in verticals such as keno and online bingo, which have both experienced significant hikes in demand and interest since 2018. Similarly, new concepts such as crash games are becoming increasingly popular, in order to create more balanced libraries that serve relatively underrepresented elements of the marketplace.
So What Will the Casino Games of Tomorrow Look Like?
The question that remains, of course, is how will these broad trends take hold and influence the online casino games of tomorrow? In general terms, most experts are forecasting the launch of more bespoke and exclusive games in the near-term, with the latter ensuring that certain, in-demand titles are only available at a particular casino.
This obviously has a direct impact on market saturation from the perspective of games, while it also makes it easier for players to select their preferred online casinos in an informed manner.
Of course, securing exclusive rights to games and targeted software houses can also help to create loyalty among a player and consumer base, while helping both operators and the market as a whole to strike a better balance between quality, access and quantity. If we look at the most dominant iGaming vertical (slots), there are a number of more specific trends that will influence the next generation of titles.
Of course, legislation has ensured that slots can no longer feature the ‘Auto Play’ button, but another key trend has seen ‘Hold and Respin’ gameplay become increasingly dominant. This represents a fast-growing slot game genre, introducing a wide range of gameplay options and unique features in the process.
Slots have also been gripped by retro trend, both in terms of themes and narratives. Similarly, slots are being designed with an increasingly immersive and fun arcade feel, creating a different slant on gameplay and once again establishing unique points of difference in a crowded market. Tapping into similar principles of uniqueness and exclusivity, we’re also seeing a larger number of branded and licensed slots enter the iGaming market in the UK.
Of course, branded slots refer to themed titles that have drawn from other subsets such of popular culture, from TV and film to music and cartoons. While operators have to pay a significant licensing fee to platform such games for a predetermined period of time, they can serve as flagships games that help to set operators apart and drive customer loyalty over time.
But what about wider trends in the iGaming market? Well, tomorrow’s casinos and games are increasingly likely to be powered by blockchain platforms, creating decentralised titles with a minimal house edge that are fair, transparent and capable of being accessed with genuine anonymity. Whether they’re hosted online or through a cryptocurrency metaverse, this type of blockchain powered casino game is also likely to be three-dimensional in nature.
Such a trend is also being exaggerated by the increased availability of VR and AR casino platforms and games, which arguably represent the final frontier when it comes to bridging the gap between corporeal and in-play wagering. In order to create higher-quality and more unusual casino games, holograms are also being deployed by development teams nationwide.
Holograms are even being utilised in Las Vegas to establish a new generation of gambling halls, with this type of experimental casino featuring holographic games that blur the lines between physical and virtual gameplay.
In the online realm, virtual casinos can also use holographic, and touch displays to help players navigate specific games using gestures. What’s more, such games can also be managed in a way that players can share their experience immediately online through social media channels, elevating gameplay onto an entirely new level overall.
Clearly, operators and developers are looking to cut through market saturation through the use of advanced technology and changes that meet the changing demands of players, while the rise of ‘exclusive’ titles is also helping to streamline the overall games’ library in the UK.