The online casino gaming industry grew exponentially over the past few years. iGaming technology has undergone a significant evolution in innovation, and the rapidly changing landscape has also transformed online games and websites into global experiences.
Mobile’s massive impact on the iGaming industry is also clear to see: both in the sheer amount and popularity of gaming apps and mobile casinos in the marketplace as well as the value of the mobile industry itself. The mobile gaming sector is reported to grow to a significant $70.3 billion this year, a figure that will be achieved in no small part thanks to the previous boom in iGaming (which itself was valued at $40 billion at the end of 2017). But what are the other trends and innovations driving iGaming forward in 2018? And which gaming technologies will be left standing at the end of the year?
The Internet of Things
The prevalence of the Internet of Things (IoT) in our daily lives is increasing, and the iGaming industry has embraced its global potential fully. In short, the IoT refers to an interconnected network of electronic devices — like our smartphones, tablets, PCs, TVs, smartwatches, etc. — that share information across various online networks. To operators in the iGaming industry, the IoT has provided a platform through which they can connect with their target audience.
Since mobile devices are now the most preferred option for playing online casino games, operators have a much easier time collecting information about their target audience thanks to the interconnected nature of these devices. This process of data analytics is well-known in all global industries. However, online casino operators and poker platforms are using it to track their target customers’ experiences of competitors’ games. Consequently, operators are now tailoring their communications and updates based on these individuals’ preferences.
Like in all the digital industries, an increased focus on generating exceptional user experiences is also the goal of many iGaming platforms and companies this year. In the world of online casinos, live games are par for the course. However, some platforms are taking things up a notch by introducing elements of virtual reality (VR) and streaming into their products. VR is a buzzword thrown around the gaming world for almost half a decade now, but it looks like developers and operators in the casino industry are integrating it much more successfully than those in the traditional gaming sectors.
At the ICE Totally Gaming 2018 conference earlier this year, leading iGaming software developers showcased several new products that aim to take virtual casino players into the heart of the action. Everything from a VR headset, which, when plugged into a smartphone and used with VR-compatible games allows gamers to escape into a virtual casino, to a full VR casino, both complete with live table dealers, and even a VR fantasy slots game was on display. However, as 2018 concludes, certain innovators within the industry are taking VR to the next level.
Cryptocurrency and VR: A match made in casino heaven?
Cryptocurrency is touted as the next big thing in iGaming since its surge in popularity. But in 2018, it secured its place as part of the industry. Several Bitcoin and cryptocurrency casinos established themselves within the market, and coins created for online gaming like CasinoCoin experienced a resurgence. The next logical step, then, is to combine the experience of VR with the technology and innovation of a cryptocurrency blockchain. It’s a step that a Costa Rica-based ICO has recently taken.
Although currently in its pre-token stages, Alive Casino’s roadmap is to provide players with a blockchain-powered platform to play VR casino games. The platform will connect players with a live, land-based casino, providing them with a 360-degree view for the ultimate experience. The potential security benefits of blockchain technology are well-known, and incorporating it into a financially sensitive industry like iGaming could have a significantly measurable effect on the longevity of certain online services as we move further and further into the digital age.
As far as whether these technologies will continue to shape the industry in 2019 goes, it’s highly likely that we’ll start to see many more blockchain-powered iGaming innovations spring up. VR will no doubt still feature in exhibition products and long-term projects, but those operators who take advantage of the information superhighway made possible by the IoT stand to gain a significant competitive advantage.