23 March, 2023

Online casino: Gaming Corps COO discusses adapting to changing player trends

Alex Lorimer, describes how player preferences are developing across different regions and the importance of a varied games portfolio to accommodate this.

One of the key changes to have taken place in online casino in recent years is the need to move away from a one-size-fits-all content approach. This is primarily due to the fragmentation of compliance requirements meaning that content can (and possibly should for some time now) be more tailored to local audience preferences. This in turn has led to different content genres proving more popular in different regions, where forward-thinking studios are able to capitalise by producing a more diverse portfolio than slots alone. If you log into platforms such as Netflix or YouTube, you will see thousands of different content genres to suit your needs. That has always been the case with those types of entertainment platforms; but with online casinos, it is only in recent times that we have started to see much more product variation.

Current trends in online casino games vary based on a number of factors, dictated by the markets you are targeting. In Brazil, for example, we are seeing a rapid increase in a younger generation of players seeking out something other than slot game titles. Arcade-friendly titles have proven to be big hits and that is likely to continue, as the products don’t require the latest device or lightning-fast internet connections. There are also a number of new markets that have recently emerged with a general preference for alternative iGaming products; in particular LatAm and Africa. I believe these regions will continue to be a focal point over the coming years. Whether slot content will catch on in the same way is difficult to say, but without the historical familiarilty with these games, they don’t have the same connection or popularity. The gaming experience in 2023 should speak to both the next generation of players, and players who didn’t necessarily grow up with slots. These regions are not an exception.

In Europe, we see more traditional titles such as table games and slot games continue to be successful. Both of these remain the expected experience and, in this region in particular, the level of popularity is widely considered to be the strongest it’s ever been. The arcade-style games mentioned above are on the rise in European markets, but player habits are still evolving and this hasn’t necessarily developed into a trend as yet. This is compounded by the fact that operators with legacy technology aren’t as agile when it comes to emerging game genres in the same way as new casinos. So despite their significant market share, the products are taking longer to reach players.

This is why it is important to include a varied offering that allows you to cater for the traditional gamer, while also making it clear to players that a new style of games is also available. A portfolio consisting of purely slots and table games will carry you so far, but when you add elements like Mines, Crash and Plinko games, you are then able to touch on several more bases.

When you have a dedicated player base, these concepts may just need to be modified slightly based on the feedback you have had from previous games to elevate popular gameplay; it’s a balancing act that requires listening to your audience.

Quality over quantity   

More and more operators are taking up arcade-style games, and we’ve seen a rising number of dedicated studios popping up. That is why we expect to see much more innovation in this space across the next couple of years. While the market has increasingly caught onto the value of these new game types, for us it shows the importance of a diverse portfolio offering.

Any portfolio targeting Europe will naturally include slot games but, when it comes to slots alone, there are few studios in doubt as to how quickly the market has become oversaturated. To compound matters, many of the bigger providers have also pursued a strategy of trying to release a game a week, despite much of the feedback from operators being a preference for quality over quantity. Slots are an important part of any portfolio but they have to be able to compete.

When it comes to developing new games, the important thing is to be driven by data. Follow-up titles should be planned about a year in advance, although that does not necessarily mean innovation is always key when you have a successful period. You can develop ideas further, but you don’t have to start with new concepts every single time. When you have a dedicated player base, these concepts may just need to be modified slightly based on the feedback you have had from previous games to elevate popular gameplay; it’s a balancing act that requires listening to your audience.

Expect more changes

In the next few years, we expect to see more products being released to market that, even five years ago, people would never have believed would be casino games. While innovation in the slot space is still something suppliers are likely to work towards, you look at how far those games have realistically come in the last 20 years. While a few new mechanics have taken hold, the main developments have really been updates to make games look more aesthetically pleasing and modern rather than groundbreaking new game releases. Again, it’s difficult to persuade a player to spend their money on a title that is entirely unfamiliar: there needs to be a balance between what is expected and a layer of new features. This potentially slows the rate of innovation on slots in a way that it doesn’t in arcade content. The extent to which casino games will move away from traditional offerings will become clearer in the coming years. But when it comes to blurring the lines and creating an experience that is far richer in narrative, modern game types will make for a much more engaging experience.