Every year’s iGaming trends are different – and while this works to create enough buzz to keep gamers and fans coming back for more, it also works to set the tone for what exactly will be the iGaming focus of the coming year. All gaming shows and conventions, such as Amsterdam’s iGaming Super Show that took place in July, help to feed into the future of gaming, while also reflecting on the natural trends that have been identified.
What is the iGaming Super Show?
The 2017 show, taking place between the 11th and 14th July, saw a 9% rise in delegates compared to 2016’s numbers, with 4,718 delegates attending the event, according to the official website. Moreover, 18% of delegates were CEOs or MDs of their companies, according to the official press release. 106 countries supplied delegates, another rise on 2016, in order to attend the eight events that would investigate the precedent and outline the future of iGaming. Key sponsors - including online payments brands ecoPayz and paysafecard as well as domain registration service Safenames - attended the events and gave those from many companies involved in iGaming a chance to network and to put forward plans and ideas for a more prosperous iGaming future.
The first day of the conference saw a man walking around dressed as a dinosaur in order to attract attention for a prehistoric-themed slot game developed by one of the delegates’ companies, Pragmatic Play. While this was enough to attract a sufficient PR buzz, it also helped further highlight how the real future of iGaming still has a lot to do with real people and not screens. The VSoft Co. Spot the Ball event as part of the iGnite gaming platform showcased virtual football combined with roulette to give delegates a taste of what could be done in other sectors, including casino games. Live gaming itself isn’t a new concept, with countless live versions of casino games variants available. For example, live roulette and blackjack are prevalent across the sector, and provide gameplay to mimic the experience one might have in a physical setting. But the industry has already made strides in going beyond classic casino staples in its offerings of live games. One example comes from the new Dreamcatcher live game at Betway Casino. This game offers wheel of fortune-style gameplay with real money, already familiar from a number of television shows, livestreamed from Evolution Gaming studios - the company which won Game of the Year for its Immersive Roulette at the EGR Awards 2014.
By utilizing high definition video streaming and 360-degree camera angles, in some cases, live casino gaming allows players to fully feel as though they are in a land-based casino – which amps up the tension and excitement necessary. Moving forwards with traditional industry isn’t unfamiliar ground for the technology sector, with industries as far flung as jukeboxes changing to adapt. Songs for a real-life jukebox can be picked online through smartphone apps and can reflect the tastes of those in the establishment. One of the benefits of live iGaming is the enticing opportunity it provides – and the increased new player engagement the live variation offers. When developing future business in the iGaming sphere, it's clear that the most forward-looking iGaming brands become early adopters of new technology, arguably more so than other entertainment sectors. The augmented reality and GPS aspects of Niantic's Pokemon Go utilize a player's location to amalgamate the Pokemon content with their live, physical surroundings is an example of the way forward.
Cryptocurrency and Blockchain
One development to arise from the conference was the importance placed on blockchain cryptocurrency, e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum and other similar digital currencies. Dr Craig Wright, chief scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation, urged that the computational power meant that bitcoin’s growth would expatiate. He focused on the idea that the internet could become more “owned” and transactions and procedures could work for us more, with the help of bitcoin technology. One of the most interesting ideas at the Payment Solutions Summit was Wright's idea that we could “remove trust” – using our phones as keys and removing internet passwords. Jez Kan, Founder of PKR, added that going forward Bitcoin needed more transparency in order to make the cryptocurrency trustworthy for the general public - and indeed the iGaming world. Bitcoin’s market capitalization saw a jump of 122% from the start of 2017 until May, reinforcing the idea of its strength as an alternative to currency. Bitcoin’s uses in iGaming would help to streamline the transactional processes. While iGaming does represent a large proportion of bitcoin’s use, the conference urged the future uses of bitcoin, which would in turn increase the cryptocurrency’s credibility when used in iGaming. iGaming is also working on pushing Bitcoin further into mainstream usage, for example, the Satoshi 300k Rewards Program for affiliates helps to get people into using Bitcoin in iGaming.
Sports Industry Chatbots
Another feature that is projected to increase engagement in iGaming is the introduction of chatbots in the sports industry, such as those developed by Snapscreen. These bots analyze information about any sports fixture in order for the viewer to make a more informed betting decision. The function, should it come to fruition, would change the way people place bets by offering a more informed decision. The chatbots would also expect to increase the number of people placing live bets. While some physical sports teams are taking advantage of the AI bots to increase footfall, ticket sales, and fan engagement – the same can be applied to the world of eSports and iGaming. The conversation created should be enough to mimic the success bots are having in other fields. Fantasy leagues often attract a lot of attention, and this spans from the more logical approach taken to the game, which chatbots can help improve with the greater array of information. If nothing else, chatbots will help to turn those interested in iGaming into those who have at least tried it, which, in a business sense, is as good as a conversion as can be expected.
The B2B conference also featured segments on the market of iGaming itself, the process of improving the future of transactions within iGaming. In order to create a fully integrated product for the end-user, the back-end needs to be as cutting-edge as possible. Undoubtedly, the conference allowed professionals to see what the friendly competition was doing and to use it to spur on their own efforts, framed around the improving of the iGaming sphere for everyone. Events such as the iGaming Super Show are capable of dominating iGaming news for months to come, and when the focus is on innovation, it's even more understandable why that is.