Here’s a fact that seems almost paradoxical: Modern online casinos are not only about the winning and losing of money. Sure, the money element is a big part of online casinos, but increasingly the operators are focusing on the entertainment factor. Moreover, it’s not just the games that have changed, it’s the whole experience on the site.
Look, nobody is saying that casino games are going to start replacing video games as a mode of entertainment, or that making a profit isn’t the number one reason behind operators’ business models. But there has been a subtle shift of gear among online casinos in recent years, and it’s interesting from a perspective of gaming, business and changes in cultural tastes.
Before looking at what has changed, it might be worthwhile to speculate why there have been changes. For a start, the industry has become incredibly competitive, so you need to think outside the box with your business model. Basically, you need to offer beyond the chance of winning something.
Casinos more than just jackpots
An operator like Mansion, which won the best casino operator at the 2018 International Gaming Awards, will not be judged on how much players have won or how much profit it made, but on the all round experience on the site. That covers everything from games to payment methods to promotions, customer service and design.
Of course, you have to start with the basics, and the games are arguably the most important aspect of the site. The aforementioned Mansion, the best online casino to find a spread of the major software developers like NetEnt, Microgaming and Playtech, is a good place to look for evidence on how games are changing. Indeed, it’s worth noting that the increased level competition is not just among casinos, but the software developers themselves. They want to create ground-breaking games to stand out in a crowded market.
Increasingly, you will see games that tie into other area of entertainment: DC Superheroes slots (Playtech), Jumanji and Narcos (NetEnt), Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs (NetEnt). These developers aren’t selling casino games, they are marketing fandom. If you are a huge Batman fan, you will be more attracted to an officially licensed DC Comics game featuring the Caped Crusader than you would a standard casino game.
Live dealer games becoming social games
Most casinos will now host a live dealer section these days. The idea was to bring a fully authentic casino experience to your PC or smartphone, but even that is evolving. Many live dealer games are now social games, with croupiers hand-picked because of their passion for sports like football. Players will open a game like Live Football studio, not just to play casino games but to discuss the live scores and results with the croupier and other players.
Outside of the games, however, you will see a focus on tournaments and missions. The latter is a scavenger hunt style promotion, where you will complete certain tasks in order to win prizes. Some of the tournaments will have leaderboards, allowing you to check your progress against other players. Some of the prizes can be terrific, but it can be fun for players just to take part.
As you can judge, part of this is about moving online casino away from being a solitary experience. In the mid-90s, when the first casinos launched online, it was a case of player vs casino game. That’s changing, as online casinos are promoting a more rounded social experience.
Will we see further changes? You would expect so. There is already talk of skill games being added to online casinos, and there is a lot of work going into created games with augmented reality technology. Key to understanding all of this is the that online casinos originally started with the idea of competing against land-based casinos. But now they are aiming to offer something truly different. You can see the green shoots of these concepts, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out.