Gaming, especially of the mobile variety, boomed in 2016. With players finding more ways to play more games, the market exploded. In fact, according to the stats, gaming became a $91 billion industry last year thanks to an increase in mobile gaming and the tentative rise of virtual reality.
As outlined in a report by SuperData Research, the market grew at a “tremendous rate” in 2016 with players of all persuasions now contributing to the economy. Indeed, instead of software and hardware companies now simply targeting traditional “gamers,” the gaming audience now consists of general consumers and internet-enabled consumers.
Perhaps the most obvious example of the market’s diversification came to light thanks to Pokémon Go. Not only did the augmented reality mobile game show off the next generation of gaming technology, it reached a mainstream audience like no other gaming app before it. Within two weeks of the game going live on iOS devices (July 6, 2016), Apple had reported that it broke the record for most downloads in its opening week.
iGaming Set to Become More Like a Game
Although Apple didn’t release any specific data on Pokémon Go, SensorTower estimated that it made $35 million net profit within that time – while analysts at Needham predicted the mobile game would generate $3 billion over a two-year period. With the mainstream now switched onto games more than ever, other sectors in the industry are making a break for the masses. iGaming, which is a sector covering online casino-style gaming, is also set for a big year in 2017.
Current data from Statista suggests the market will generate $50.65 billion in 2017, which will be an increase of just under $5 billion compared to 2016. Although a number of factors will contribute to this rise in revenue, the increased “gamification” of the industry will certainly be a factor. With more people now interested in “games,” iGaming operators are injecting more “gaming” elements into their products. The end result is more mainstream interest in casino-style gaming.
So what trends can we expect to see in 2017? Good question. Here are three things we expect to see from the iGaming industry in the coming months.
One of the defining features of any online activity over the last few years has been interaction. Whether it’s a messaging app or a game, users new want to be able to talk and connect with like-minded individuals when they’re doing something online. Naturally, iGaming operators have tapped into this and throughout 2017 we’re likely to see more ways for players to interact as they bet.
One obvious area of innovation is online bingo. A social game at its core, online bingo sites are now offering more ways for players to communicate when they play. For example, the Deal or No Deal games at Sun Bingo offer an element of interaction that previously wasn’t available online. During the game, players will be able to vote on whether the overall winner should accept the banker’s bonus offer or play on.
Taking this idea a step further, Sun Bingo players can also take part in chat games. Overseen by “chat hosts,” these mini-games actually take place during a round of bingo. Each one is free to play and the main idea is to encourage some form of interaction and entertainment between players in the chat box.
Linked to the above point, we’re likely to see more connections between iGaming and social media in 2017. In 2016, the idea of Twitch streaming became popular among poker players such as Jason Somerville and Jamie Staples, and this trend will continue over the coming months. Similarly, we’re also set to see more companies join the social media revolution.
Perhaps the most interesting development will be the convergence of live and online gaming into a single medium. Already we’ve seen companies such as the Global Poker League attempt to fuse the two worlds in a bid to create a social media experience. In short, the poker tournament organizer has created The Cube in which players compete in front of a live audience but using tablets.
Around the outside of The Cube a host of data and video clips are streamed so that the audience is more engaged in the action. The live tournament is then streamed across various social media outlets, including Twitch, to create something akin to a sporting event. As this idea grows, we can expect to see more of the same over the coming year.
The final innovation and possibly the most interesting is virtual and augmented reality. Software developers such as Microgaming and NetEnt have already started experimenting with virtual reality products and 2017 could be the year we see them released to the masses. Indeed, with products like Google Cardboard making it possible for people to turn their smartphones into VR units for a small cost, the chances are casino companies will roll out more immersive mobile games very soon.
From the developments already made we know games such as roulette and slots will be in the mix. However, the possibilities are almost endless. From creating completely interactive virtual casinos to poker games between multiple virtual players, the way we play will undoubtedly get more immersive in the coming months. In fact, that seems to be the overall direction iGaming is heading in.
Through a combination of more interaction, more socialization and more immersion, iGaming looks set to become a more engaging industry. Instead of players playing in isolation, each experience will be more connected and, in theory, more entertaining for everyone.
TechChunks is a Technology Geek, Web Entrepreneur, SEO Consultant and Social Media Evangelist. Prior to starting this blog, TechChunks has spent many productive years as a Software Engineer, Wordpress Blogger, Corporate Trainer, Frequent Conference Speaker and Workshop Leader. Circle TechChunks on Google+!