How do you reflect on 2022 and how will gaming’s relationship with the metaverse continue?
I think gaming and the metaverse had a very shy relationship in 2022, but as they get to know one another they will have a better relationship in the years to come. In my opinion and those of the industry, the metaverse is the way forward – and as gambling is part of the human experience, it makes sense that it will have a significant place in the metaverse. There are questions, though, regarding how things will happen in this relationship. These things should be understood and predicted based on how technology, industry and human behaviour will change in the years to come.
Gambling is an old habit – the first dice were discovered in the pyramids and are 5,000 years old, which happened because the game itself was in the proximity of the people. However, as technology came into our world, we started socialising and bringing people to the game from far away. Now, we are moving to a place where people will start owning digital things and coming together online. It’s very similar to how humans evolved. In today’s world, we know that if the experience of gambling for the modern player isn’t smooth, then it will not be there at all.
In this part of evolution for the industry, it comes with the question of how the experience will be delivered – which is a very technical question. But, more interestingly, there is a second question, which is: To whom is that experience being delivered to?
As we see the demographics of the people who are playing, it is structured in two large areas: Gamers, playing skill-based games, and gamblers – luck/chance-based games. Now we see a certain convergence of these worlds, with an interesting bridge being built between the gaming side and the gambling side.Most of the time these days, you find gaming has been integrated into a metaverse approach, especially when you look at things like Minecraft. Will these people expect to go from that open environment online to something more individual when they come to the gambling side? I don’t think so. Businesses should adapt themselves to deliver an experience to their clients in a way that is adapted to a new generation. This goes for every industry, not just gambling or gaming.
What is the metaverse in this context?
This is why the metaverse is becoming an ecosystem of distinct worlds that are speaking to one another
While I have been trying to find a comprehensive definition, I've received one from AI (very trendy these days) – ChatGPT: "The metaverse is a virtual space, constantly evolving and expanding, where people can meet and interact with one another, and the representation of real objects can be found for business. It isn’t a single world or application, rather it is a collection of different virtual environments that are connected together."
It comes as a reaction, in my opinion, to highly centralised older social networks that were places like casinos – and although they mapped the human relationships very well, sometimes it wasn’t used in the most ethical manner. People now tend to have a reaction against that. This is why the metaverse is becoming an ecosystem of distinct worlds that are speaking to one another. Businesses traditionally try and keep what they have within themselves, which is why I believe, in this context, the metaverse is a natural evolution of technology that brings everything closer to us and the way we interact with it.
How would you describe gambling’s relationship with the metaverse today?
The interaction is given by the technology that is available. Not everybody can have an interaction because there is no current framework for that. The existing framework delivers a limited type of experience, but if you look at all of the metaverse’s proposals that are out there, people tend to go towards gambling and gambling experiences. It is natural for people. The moment they can find an environment where they can interact with each other, gambling becomes an important part of the type of relationship they want to have.
How is that going to evolve and happen? I think it is pretty clear. Our vision is that the future is going to be ‘Phigital’ – meaning a combination of physical and digital. This bridge between physical and digital means people from anywhere can enjoy a combined experience without necessarily having to go anywhere.