5 noteworthy trends in the online casino market so far in 2020
What are the main developments we are seeing in 2020? Here are five key trends to look out for.
The online casino niche continues to grow in popularity, with more and more countries legalizing the activity and letting their citizens play in a safe and regulated way. With this growth comes new trends, as cutting-edge technology and innovative game mechanics combine to make the casino market more appealing to new and diverse demographics. What are the main developments we are seeing in 2020? Here are five key trends to look out for.
Game developers are swallowing each other up
While the casino market expands into new territories, the mature markets of the UK and Scandinavia show oversaturation. One of the consequences of this is that the larger companies are now busily swallowing up the smaller start-ups. We can see a good example of this in NetEnt’s purchase of Red Tiger Gaming. The Swedish giant has had a hard time of things lately, and by acquiring Red Tiger’s product line, they have breathed new life into their game offering, thanks to more exciting and highly volatile slots.
Volatility is increasing
On that topic, it is very notable that the average volatility/variance of new slots is on the increase. What does greater volatility mean? Mathematically, it means that slot players must spin many more losing rounds before hitting a winner, but when they do, the win tends to be bigger. It seems there is more and more demand for high-payout slots, and the average player is willing to go through a lot of pain for the chance to gain a larger reward. Slot developers like Pragmatic Play and Play n’ Go have responded to this demand with ever more volatile games, and the public seems to be lapping these titles up.
Streaming channels are reaching larger and larger audiences
Platforms like Twitch and YouTube have spawned a massive new ecosystem of slot and casino streaming channels, which connect fans in real-time and let them discover new games. Streamers like Roshtein are as big in the slot community as PewDiePie is for video gamers. Predictably, the casinos have responded to this new fad by sponsoring many of the slot streamers, making multi-millionaires out of several of them.
Responsible gambling is now front and center
One positive trend we are seeing is that licensed casinos and sports betting firms are now taking responsible gambling far more seriously than before. Greater regulation and harsher fines will tend to do that, of course – but the casinos themselves have been working on problem gambling-limiting technology. A good example of this is the Gamstop initiative in the UK, where any resident can sign up for self-exclusion from all licensed operators in that country.
Developers are borrowing thematic ideas from the video game world
One valid criticism that was often aimed at online slots over the years is that once you scratched the surface, every game had the exact same mechanics. No matter whether it was a Rocky slot, or a Viking slot, or a jackpot slot, they basically all worked the same way. In 2020, we are starting to see some more thought put into each game. That might be as simple as an Easter egg picking game in a seasonal slot. Or it could be something as elaborate as the recent Ghostbuster Plus by IGT, where players need to zap and collect ghosts in the base game to increase prizes in the bonus round. Although slots are unlikely to challenge the complexity of CS: GO just yet, we are seeing definite signs of game developers bringing more thematic elements into their products.
The online gambling industry is already showing some interesting trends even this early in the year. Some of these trends look like they should continue for a few more years yet, with responsible gambling being a good example. Others are a bit more uncertain. Just how big can the casino streaming community on Twitch grow for example? Does it still have to room to grow given that people’s viewing hours are finite? And just how far can the public’s appetite for ever more volatile slots continue? It sure is going to be interesting to see how the rest of 2020 plays out.
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