Dmitry Starostenkov, EvenBet Gaming CEO, speaks on one of the latest trends in the emerging gaming markets: using multi-game platforms to acquire a young and mobile audience looking for easy entertainment online.
It’s not a secret that in 2020-2021 the global COVID-19 pandemic has become an enormous boost for the online gaming industry, but it caused increased competition not just between online casinos and sports betting websites. The new reality of social distancing, safety regulations, and restricted access to in-person entertainment made online gambling compete with the other forms of online entertainment: video streaming services, multiplayer online games, and even online shopping.
This new paradigm forces online casinos to rethink their approach and to create new forms of engaging entertainment trying to keep the audience playing instead of surfing through endless Amazon listings or scrolling down recommended Netflix titles.
One of the most significant trends now is multi-game platforms, that attract the increasing interest of the operators and players in the emerging markets. The trend is currently most active in Asia, particularly in India, but we also see the growing demand for similar solutions in South and Latin America and are looking forward to seeing their spread in other markets.
What is a multi-game platform? Shortly, it is an operator’s solution that combines different types of online games and entertainment activities: skill-based games like chess, casino and card games, daily fantasy sports, traditional sports and esports betting, casual games, and so on. In most cases, these solutions are cross-platform and omnichannel, allowing the players to access the games both from desktop and mobile devices. These are online gaming supermarkets, where users may access as many types of games as possible. India has become the largest hub for these projects because most of the games for money provided (rummy, fantasy sports, poker, etc.) are considered games of skill and are therefore are allowed in most of the states, including such states as Maharashtra where 19% of the adult population are regular gamblers.
The investors see great potential in the new gaming format. According to KPMG, of the total USD554 million (half of the total market worth estimated around USD930 million) investments attracted by the gaming sector in India in late 2020 – early 2021, the multi-game platforms saw a notable increase in deal activity with significant funds raised by the major players.
The New Generation of Players
Why is this a noteworthy trend? It demonstrates some changes that can affect the global gaming industry in the foreseeable future.
Firstly, these multi-game platforms are created to satisfy the needs of the young emerging audience: mobile, dynamic, and gambling for entertainment. If we take a look at these platforms’ user demographic in India where they are currently the most popular we may notice that the players are relatively young (under 30 years), have higher income and better education than a country population in general, meaning that it’s a truly promising audience segment. These users will continue to play for years.
Over 1 billion Indians belong to the age group under 45, and the number of smartphone users exceeded 750 million in 2021. It’s one of the youngest countries in the world, with an average mobile screen time of 4 hours 30 minutes daily (data by App Annie for 2021), and therefore, one of the most responsive to the new mobile entertainment formats.
Hungry for Entertainment
New game platform types show how iGaming offerings will evolve in the short future. Quality games are no longer enough; players also need a choice, and in the future, a customised and personalised choice that would consider player preferences and previously played games. Most probably, in the next few years, slots and casino games will provide the same amount of personal suggestions as Netflix or Facebook advertising do now; this means that more marketing automation and sophisticated AI solutions will be on top.
In 2020, casual games generated even more revenue in India than real money games: 60.2 billion rupees against 49.8 billion rupees, according to Statista. The fantasy sports vertical goes third, with 24.3 billion revenues. Creating multi-game platforms may become a chance for real money games vertical to catch up on this difference by providing as entertaining and accessible products as possible.
Gamification Above All
Finally, to be successful and retain the audience, multi-game platforms will need to adopt more engagement mechanics that are currently being used in casual and multiplayer videogames. These are all sorts of leaderboards and challenges, quests, and so actively discussed loot boxes. Gamification at all levels is attractive for young players. Most of them have started by playing casual and video games, therefore they are expecting to have a similar experience while playing for money.
Likely, the existing multi-game platform format will continue to evolve in the foreseeable future. However, these three key trends, in my opinion, are to stay and guarantee future success for innovative online gaming operators.