Driven by a combination of changing technologies, demographics and evolving consumer demand, here’s what you should know about the gaming trends for 2016.
Current gaming trends have largely been driven by a combination of changing technologies, demographics and evolving consumer demand. Internet and mobile gaming applications, embodied by fantasy sports companies like FanDuel, have attracted a younger-skewing demographic toward gaming. Meanwhile, casinos are transforming the way they do business in order to attract a younger demographic with games and amenities.
Global Gaming Business Magazine (GGB) recently examined 10 trends for 2016, looking into its crystal ball to identify the changes that are entering the casino business now and in the coming years. Four of these major gaming trends go full-throttle into the future.
1. Games Built for a Mobile, Millennial Generation
It’s well-known that slot players skew older, and that casinos want to attract younger players who might be entertained by online video games or mobile gaming apps. The article highlighted a rise in the number of third-party vendors developing casino games for younger-skewing players. One such vendor is Las Vegas-based NYX Gaming Group, whose CEO, Matt Davey, said the following to GGB: “We’re talking about games that are more engaging straightaway, without the player having to play for two or three hours. Once you move out of the analog hardware side of the business into the digital software side, you have a lot more power to deploy games that are more appropriate for up-and-coming players.”
Vendors like Davey’s NYX Gaming Group fine-tune slot machines to offer smaller, but more frequent wins. Third-party vendors are also experimenting with new technologies akin to the kind of technology behind the recent Pokémon Go phenomenon, such as virtual reality. These changes have already attracted younger-skewing slot players in Europe, where fewer regulations exist.
2. eSports Wagering
This trend involves the boom in multi-player, internet-based games. As a recent Forbes article, “Why 2016 Should Be a Year of Tremendous Growth for eSports,” explains it: “The industry that covers competitive video gaming as a spectator sport and online streamers of content has a potential global audience of over 1.4 billion, and participants, manufacturers as well as brands have a unique opportunity to exploit the space while there is still undervalued territory to seize.” The industry has also found massive global sponsors like Coca-Cola and Red Bull, as well as large television deals with ESPN and Turner Sports.
According to Global Gaming Business Magazine, game-mediated betting is an industry that brings in $2 billion a year, and eSports can account for an additional $300 million a year. While regulatory changes may impact eSports, it remains a massive potential revenue source for casinos to tap into.
3.Big Data and Analytics to Drive Loyalty
Big data is already a major trend in many industries, but for the gaming industry, it can offer casinos a better way to connect with and understand their visitors. By setting up loyalty programs and providing casino visitors with loyalty cards, casinos can collect data about a customer’s behavior not just on the casino floor but in their choice of food, beverages, hotel accommodations and more. Setting up a data infrastructure to leverage all this visitor data may represent an initial investment, but it can allow casinos to deliver a far more personalized and memorable experience to every visitor, while maximizing visitor spend.
Rory Fagan, director of casino sales at San Francisco-based Duetto Research, says many casinos aren’t taking full advantage of their data to drive the visitor experience. “Customers love deals and discounts,” Fagan told GGB. “If clearly communicated to and properly incensed, they will use a loyalty or player’s card throughout a resort. By mixing great customer service with high-touch technology that can track consumer spend, casinos can use back-of-house systems to better reward their top customers and increase total revenue. It’s a mutually beneficial value proposition.”
4. Consumer-Centric Food and Beverage Options
As every casino owner and visitor knows, food and beverage quality plays an important role in driving the entire casino experience. A rude waiter or a badly-mixed drink can ruin any fun had playing slots or poker. Food and beverage choices are getting more casual across the nation, and that’s true for casinos, too. Some customers want a quick-service food and beverage option, while others want a fine, sit-down dining experience — or something in between. Casinos need to be proving the food options their visitors prefer. “Speed of service and choice are the keys at this point,” according to Global Gaming Business Magazine.
The casino business is changing swiftly, as the above trends show, forcing casino owners to adapt just as quickly to what their customers demand. Consider these trends for 2016 and how you may be able to incorporate them into your business to help improve customer experience.