Taking the croupier’s table from the physical casino to online was the move that introduced a whole new audience to casino gaming, but what will come next? Sam Brown, NetEnt’s Head of Live Casino, looks into his crystal ball and sees a mobile future
It has been 20 years since the first online casino was launched. Right on the cusp of the digital age, they soon took the world by storm. With roulette, poker and blackjack leading the way, online casinos across the globe soon signed up millions of players and, with every year that has passed, improving technologies have opened up the possibilities of more games, better gameplay and, more recently, mobile capability.
However, even with all this new technology flooding into the betting and gaming industry, it was live casino that brought the casino atmosphere to life for online players. With real people, on real tables, dealing the cards, live casino lands in the middle ground between online and retail, proving particularly popular with customers who have traditionally less experience of random number generated games and a desire to interact in a live environment.It’s a successful recipe which continues to reap rewards for operators across the online space.
Reams of research shows that people are spending more time online than ever, and it’s on smartphones where they’re racking up the hours. With mobiles now the premier choice for surfing the net, it becomes crucial for developers to ensure that their games are designed with a mobile-first mentality, and live casino is just the same.
For NetEnt, it’s important to ensure that NetEnt Live, our successful live casino brand offering, continues to move with the times and makes the most of evolving player habits. We feel that designing for mobile is no longer optional for developers; it’s a necessity. So, how do you bring something such as live casino – a product with inherently more technical complexity than an RNG game and traditionally enjoyed on a larger screen – successfully to mobile?
Every effort to keep those elements in which make live casino popular should be the first consideration. A core strength of the product is the ability to interact with other players and the dealer, so maintaining social capabilities is key. In the future, the level of interaction and realism will be taken to a whole new level, using virtual and augmented realities that are currently taking the gaming world by storm.
Another important consideration of any live game is trust, and maintaining the integrity of the game – the synchronisation of the audio, video and game interface – is everything. Keeping all the game elements synchronised across numerous devices, operating systems, browsers and connection speeds is crucial.
We must then consider design, keeping consistency across devices, working with smaller spaces and acknowledging the varying needs and interactions of users across their different devices. If developers simply copy and paste a desktop product into the small screen, they are destined for failure. Being successful in the mobile world requires nuanced, dedicated and knowledgeable design.
A simple example is to think about the way people use their mobiles – generally in shorter, more regular bursts than when compared with desktop, and seldom for a single function. How can the design and user experiences leverage this opportunity to enhance the product? How can we facilitate the multi-tasking environments that users crave?
There is no silver bullet, and instead we must engage in an ongoing relationship with our players, where they are given the forum to describe their needs. Technology and interfaces are changing much faster on mobile devices than they ever have on desktop, so we must take on an iterative cycle of improvement based on the voice of the customers, and subsequently sensitive product design.
The future for live casino is incredibly exciting, and improving technologies in the mobile space are destined to grow the live environment even further. Now is the time for suppliers to future-proof their existence and join the mobile revolution.
Sam Brown is head of live casino at NetEnt, the leading digital casino entertainment provider. He is responsible for overall delivery of NetEnt’s live dealer experience covering all aspects of technology, operations, development and marketing. He has more than 10 years’ experience in betting and gaming