Industry insight: Innovation in gaming
Lyubomira Petrova looks to the future of the igaming industry and considers how new technologies will shape the way we view online gambling
The gambling industry has come a long way, from land-based operations to the introduction of online betting two decades ago, and the expanded ways users can now enjoy gambling from different devices worldwide. None of these milestones would have been possible without the innovative spirit that organisations bring through technology to achieve one major goal: to create a world of entertainment and excitement for the many players across the globe. The online gaming market is one of the fastest growing sectors in the gambling industry. When it comes to turning breakthrough ideas into action, new market entrants and opportunities are a significant factor, as are the companies that incorporate innovation into their culture and business approach.
Often used as a buzzword, innovation brings a positive change not only to the player’s experience but also to the entire perception of gambling as a high-tech industry. Major software companies, regulators, the media, payment providers and many others are starting to focus their attention more on the gambling industry, which is expected to witness a compound annual growth rate of around 5.7% during the forecasted period 2016-2022, based on research from Infoholic. Based on the milestones reached so far, the online gambling market was forecasted to have a value of $59.8bn (£46.6bn) in 2020.
When it comes to the main drivers of innovation, users take the leading role.
Product managers try to create better and broader portfolio offerings through different entertainment devices, as well as expanding gambling verticals to levels never expected before. The companies that provide breakthroughs in different gambling areas are trusted partners for operators, willing to answer all of the player’s requirements and meet the need for modern and tech-savvy products.
Hugely popular around the globe, esports is one of the most promising and challenging verticals in the industry. Betting on esports is on the rise, offering thrills, entertainment and a superb gambling experience to the new and very attractive millennial audience. The latest data shows that many sportsbooks fail to properly answer to esports fans’ expectations, not only with coverage but also with on-site features, promotions, etc. In the coming years, esports’ potential has to be fully unleashed. Design and engagement tools are vital. Millennials want the look and feel of esports, and the classical sports betting view is not the way to go.
Even though the top three esports titles (CS:GO, Dota 2 and League of Legends) are responsible for more than 60% of betting volume, extensive coverage is vital as it serves as the first impression for a potential bettor.
We’re seeing major organisations jump into esports by endorsing the biggest tournaments, such as the latest edition of the International Dota 2 Major, held in Vancouver, which offered a first place prize of around $12m. Next year, the most anticipated event in Dota 2 will be held on Chinese turf, which will further enhance the tournament’s overall statistics in terms of revenue and viewership.
Widespread coverage will continue to be a must, and operators will need to adapt to the broader portfolio of titles that millennials want to see on their websites, such as the popular NBA 2K in the North American market, as well as King of Glory in Asia. Innovative concepts will further penetrate into the live betting segment as well, grabbing the attention of players and operators.
Millennials’ requirements are going to be further examined, as they will become the main user audience in the coming years. One thing for certain is the increasing importance of innovation in mobile and digital assets to deliver exceptional UX/UI and services. Mobile gaming is showing no sign of slowing down and is even expected to record the largest growth increase this year – a trend that will likely continue in the years ahead.
Solutions experts that utilise big data technologies, improve data feeds and bring insights to their sectors will also play a vital role in the coming years, as automation will be of high importance to betting brands. The leading companies that are investing in and offering innovative solutions (whether that is segmentation, gamification, AI or BI) are enabling new opportunities to the entire igaming industry.
Regulation forms another significant aspect of the entire igaming ecosystem and its adoption of technology innovations.
Looking after the legislative framework, creating an effective business approach that enables transparent operations and opening new markets will boost technological innovation in those areas. For instance, the US opening up presents long-term opportunities, as well as in the Latin American market where many new jurisdictions are moving in the right direction. Japan will definitely stimulate the emergence of new technology projects and innovative services in gambling.
“The leading companies that are investing in and offering innovative solutions (whether that is segmentation, gamification, AI or BI) are enabling new opportunities to the entire igaming industry”
Additionally, blockchain technology, especially cryptocurrencies, has found a perfect match and implementation in online gambling. Rooted in the idea of democratisation, these blockchain technologies are already blooming in terms of usage for online betting brands. Moreover, cryptocurrencies form a strong bond between many gambling verticals, including esports. With their main audience being high net worth individuals aged 18-35 who are looking to use their cryptos in new and interesting ways, the cryptocurrency community offers prime potential growth opportunities. When first introduced 10 years ago, Bitcoin was not expected to have much impact over the world, but now the igaming industry is one of the few directly using the most popular crypto as a wagering option. The blockchain and cryptocurrencies offer a huge step forward for the gambling industry and will provide a level of trust never seen before.
‘Spirit of Genius’ is one way to describe the innovative approach taken by both the industry’s leaders and start-ups, which is going to unite all of us at ICE London 2019. All are travelling along the same road to creating an enhanced user experience and technological environment.
LYUBOMIRA PETROVA is CMO at UltraPlay, a modern technological company founded in 2010. UltraPlay’s core ambition is to offer an innovative approach to the online gaming industry by providing advanced betting solutions, focused on sports and esports betting, live betting, white label, online casino and blockchain technology.
This article was published in January by iGAMING BUSINESS.