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The Future of Social Casino Games: Boom or Bust?
“Casino Business Risky” reads a not shocking headline. “Casino Market Gambles with Success” states another. When wordplay spars with irony, everyone comes out a winner.
Social casino games face this irony-rich meta-world with a firm upper lip. That’s because the world of social apps features a richness of its own risk and irony. Partially because of exactly that first thing.
Understanding risk and profit margins of social casino games may as well require degrees in economics, social engineering, and fortune telling. Research companies offer compendiums of marketing data on the industry for as much as $1500 a report.
Knowing the best place in the market segmentation to hatch a new product seems to be an expensive endeavor. Knowing where the industry stands between the brink of boom and bust? That we can walk you through.
Following the Money
Video games generate around $30 billion during 2016. Social casino games generated $4 billion of that. A market segment that large earns some scrutiny.
That scrutiny carries certain competition with it. Looking at research data and the industry projections can seem dull when it is all numbers and charts. To help you understand the stakes, we’ll give it to you in gaming terms.
Romance of the Social Casino Kingdoms
The skill level required to grasp the landscape of social casino games providers seems like an ancient territorial war. Companies rise and fall overnight. Their scattered forces reacquired and made generals in formerly opposing armies.
Not simply as a rhetorical device, either. Behind closed doors, this type of drama permeates the industry.
Competitive markets breed a heightened sense of the actions and outcomes. The difference between one icon color and another can mean the make or break for a new program.
A myriad of factors play a role in what games turn a profit and which become vaporware. Let’s take a run down through the important points.
Reinventing the Wheel
Social casino games don’t drift too far from real casino games, which isn’t strictly a bad thing. Why design something new when slots make more money than every other game type.
These games win customers through packaging appeal and rewards, not ingenuity.
Card games go the same way. The reason that you can’t find a game of Egyptian Rat Screw or Old Maid in a casino has less to do with house/player margin and more to do with strategy. Texas Hold Em became the default of high stakes poker because the game works, not because other games didn’t exist.
A Flashy Paint Job
Presentation is everything. That is what social casino games designers learned from looking at the brick and mortar industry.
People don’t want to learn new games or face unexpected circumstances when gambling. They want to pick a favorite and stick with it. Comfortable and exciting vie for consumer attention.
Gamblers want to engage with the same game and aesthetic over and over because the elements of design feed into the reward loop. But they also need to be kept interested so that it can feed into the reward loop.
Think back to your first time walking across a casino floor. Vizualize the lights and sounds of the machines in the fog of cigarette smoke and dim overheads. Think about your own limits for sights and sounds.
These design elements work for the advantage of the game designers. While some sounds may be too loud for you, they may be right for someone else. Some lights too bright, some just right.
Something for Everyone or Nothing for Anyone
The landscape of social casino game developers shows where the diversity resides. Their disparate country backgrounds and asset trading reveals a pursuit of many over one.
Malcom Gladwell pointed out the concept of no perfect sauce for everyone, but plenty of perfect sauces for someone.
The fight for consumer market segment means constant innovation. The market may have hit an all-time high this year, but signs of a slump worry investors and designers. Companies redesign constantly to avoid loss of consumer interest, and ultimately profit.
This leads us to the final point, innovation.
Innovation In, Innovation Out
Even though consumers don’t want new games, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to go somewhere with those games.
Innovation in social casino games takes the form of superstructure and support, not the core mechanic. Newer games offer more of an experience than just the reward appeal.
These experiences fall outside of general incentives, which we’ll cover next.
Product line development now takes into account a wholeness of experience. Several games from the same company will keep a theme. A player that gets interested Atlantis themed slots will also want to see the same art assets in a roulette game or a poker game.
Offering different tiers of challenge and a sense of progression from novice to expert also feeds into player’s wants. Upgrades to player avatars and unlockables for loading and playing screens enhance the core gameplay.
Changing the elements connecting each spin of the wheel and each hand of cards keeps players engaged. Basic storytelling elements give the player a sense of progression and an interest to play the next game.
With continued incentives being introduced to keep a player interested, it only remains to arm the original mousetrap.
Hook Em Early and Often
New to the market games, such as New Online Casinos Mr. Spin, introduce players to the game with a bevy of starter packages. These often include free plays or faster progressions through early game points.
Once a player’s investment reaches a certain level, the games tend to increase the incentives for continuing. It also make the tasks of progression slower and more challenging.
These basic elements exist in most game types. General psychology suggests getting a person interested, then withhold rewards to keep them interested. It seems a bit counter-intuitive, but ultimately people like to earn what they have, not just be handed victories.
Social casino games won’t disappear overnight. Their popularity continues to rise and innovations continue to push. Though there is a risk factor, like any endeavor, they avoid the risk other casino games face by adding elements more suited to their platforms.
Players want to win, but video game versions give them more things that can be won. This ensures that the industry model will continue to succeed as long as innovation stays ahead of drop-off.