I recently came across a great article, The Top Ice Takeaways, by a former colleague of mine, Barry Cottle, that highlighted four key trends in the casino space. Barry has a unique perspective, involved in online real money, land based casino as well as the social space. He’s identified several trends that will impact all three businesses. The four trends, in what I consider the most important order for social casino businesses, are:
- Technology is evolving and your player’s habits are changing.We live in an age where technology changes constantly. Several years ago, Blackberries and PDAs were at the edge of technology. Then users migrated to iPhones. Then the iPad and tablets became the primary way that people consumed mobile content. Now players are leaving tablets for phablets and larger devices. It is critical to stay at the front of these trends. You need to make sure your content is available not only on the new devices people are using but also optimize the experience for these devices.
Barry uses the example of building casino apps now for portrait mode. He cites studies that show users are quickly moving to a portrait-only mentality that is driven by the speed of play ease of holding your phone in one hand while doing something else. The key is to understand how your players are consuming content and build your experience for that, rather than focusing on an old technology or any particular device.
- Innovation does not have to be tech based. I frequently discuss Clay Christensen’s theory on innovation and the key is to disrupt markets by addressing users who are not served by the existing companies. A key to this strategy is not simply creating a new product but building a new business model that better serves these customers. About ten years ago, the free-to-play model disrupted the video game industry rather than a cool new technology. The innovation can be in the promotions that you offer players, the partnerships you strike with IP holders or companies in adjacent casino spaces or even your on-boarding experience.
- Differentiation through IP and licensed third-party content is critical. IP allows companies to take a commoditized space and create a unique position. When Zynga launched HitItRich! slots in 2013, there were already many successful social casino titles. One problem in the space, however, was that players could play one title, use up their free chips, then play a competing product. HitItRich! pursued a strategy of integrating exclusive IP into its casino. It was the only place where you could play a Sex in the City or Wizard of Oz slot machines. This unique content allowed it to differentiate from other social casinos and be Zynga’s most successful new product in years. There is no reason that IP cannot have a similar impact on other parts of the casino space.
- Omni-channels is not a fad. As Barry points out, “in the mobile age of gaming, players expect a seamless crossover in both content and experience from land-based to online.” I would add that consumers also want a seamless experience from desktop to mobile and from real money online to social. They also want the same experience if they are in Des Moines or Tel Aviv. It is thus critical that you look at your offerings holistically and build the best experience for your customers.
- There are four key trends impacting the casino business, from social to real money online to land based.
- One of the most important trends is that technology is continually evolving and it is critical to ensure your offering creates a great experience for how your customers are consuming content today, not last year.
- Other trends include the importance of innovating your business practices as well as your products, differentiating your content through IP and providing a holistic experience between land-based, social and real money on-line.