For almost 30 years, video games and casino games (and gambling) have been two completely different forms of entertainment. When online casinos became popular, they used to offer games that couldn’t be called video games. This was because the term ‘video game’ referred to games in which the outcome depends on the player’s skill, whereas in casino games, the result is mostly based on chance.
Video games used to be ‘exclusively’ played by nerds and little kids. But in the early 2000s, at the same time with the rise of online casinos, video games started becoming mainstream. That made them not only popular but a normal part of the daily lives among Millennials and Gen Z, just as television used to be for Baby Boomers and Gen X.
Target Audience is Changing
Even though most Millennials and Gen Z have never played any casino games, online or in a brick-and-mortar casino, a lot of them are spending money on video games – purchasing the game, spending money on in-game purchases and character upgrades. And one of the most common things they spend real money on are ‘loot boxes’ – a type of mechanism where they get random in-game prizes in the form of a box or chest, which is very similar to the slot machine mechanism.
Members of the US government have greatly criticized this practice and even called it ‘gambling for minors’. But for video game companies this ‘loot box’ system has been a very lucrative tactic. In fact, many of the game providers earn more money through the boxes than through video game sales.
Gamification of Online Casino Games
For years, gambling researchers have been making connections between traditional video games and casino games. Even though both activities share similar characteristics: bright colors, noises and potentially big wins, they have a different reach and different audiences.
With the advancement of technology both, the gaming and the gambling industries continue to grow exponentially, but more importantly, the lines between these two types of games are being increasingly blurred. In the past, video games ‘borrowed’ elements from casino games. Now, casinos are copying ‘gaming’ elements from the video games industry.
Traditionally, players would simply press a button and watch virtual dice roll. But that is changing as online casino games are getting a slick upgrade, allowing higher involvement of players. Players can enjoy the same thrill of ‘achievement’ that video games offer – battling enemies, earning experience points, and leveling up which translates into bonus rolls or even direct payouts. Some games even go one step further and offer bonuses after a certain amount of practice or ability leading up to big prizes.
The main reason behind the gamification of online casino games is obvious – the target audience changes. And as a player, they are incentivized to play more and spend more, the benefits for the casinos are obvious as well, they translate into increased player satisfaction and higher earnings.
From Luck-based to Skill-based Experience
Slots and casino developers are always on the lookout for making games more attractive to players. Gaming elements, such as free spins and progressive jackpots are often accompanied by fanfares and bursts of color.
Another important driver of gamification of online casino games are gambling apps which can offer a variety of richer experience than the traditional games of poker, blackjack or slots. The competitive system gambling apps use allows games that used to be mainly luck-based to evolve into skill-based experiences that require actual playing skill.
This new approach to online games gives players have more control over the outcome (their winnings). And it has proven very popular among younger generations as they would rather bet more in a game where their win depends on their skill than on a game where luck is the determining factor.
Is complete gamification the future of online gambling?
The global online gambling and betting market revenue is on a constant rise, with expectations to reach the one-trillion-dollar mark in the next few years.
With Millennials and Gen Z becoming the main target demographics, we see changes in customer preference, as these younger generations of entertainment gamblers want more interactivity as they play. Innovation driven by technology, gamification and personalized customer experiences for players are becoming the key differentiators for winning over players’ loyalty.
As gamification has helped introduce the excitement of online gambling to a whole new audience, a new generation on online casino games is taking over the market. The future of online gaming looks bright though, with technology-powered innovations and more advances in online casinos driving the gamification business model.