I believe this new demographic expect a lot more than your simple bet and spin” – ANNAMARIE ANASTASI

be attracted to online betting through esports. In East Asia it is already part of the culture and local heroes will be designated through games, maybe even the next wave of politicians will be ‘game grown’. Geoff: The video game industry has been learning from the gambling industry, and we’ve already started to see the UK Gambling Commission taking note of issues like loot boxes and monetisation. Social gaming, meanwhile, awards profile boosters, and stars and animations instead of cash. We should be learning from those industries in return; we should be looking at new ways to engage our players, not just in the types of games we offer, but with the experiences we create. Joe Bloggs can play Blackjack anywhere now, for free or for money, so what else can we offer him to keep him coming back to a FunFair-powered casino? Mark: Video games have gamification features within them however we are yet to see this really come through in slots other than a few examples. Being a ‘completionist’ is very common in video games but far less in slot games. I worked on a game called Heart of the Jungle for Ash Gaming, where we added achievements in the slot base game. It was the first game of its kind with the achievements offering no monetary gain, but it was very popular and a great feature for ‘completionists’ to enjoy.

We are looking at game mechanics where players unlock features over time. This gives players an extra reason to stick around and keep playing. If they take or complete certain actions in a game, they are rewarded with an additional feature, for example, and this increases game payback. Playing to an end point is the case in video games, whereas in traditional slots you win or lose. We want to adopt more of a video gaming model where players want to continue their progress and play for longer and enjoy their experience more.

When gaming is both your hobby and your profession it becomes less of a nine to five job and more about extending that passion for games into a commercial product” – CHRISTOPHER MIFSUD

86 MAY 2019 CIO

CIO: What would be your perfect marriage of video and gambling product? Geoff: Every year I go to ICE and every year I see the same VR tech demos and skill-based slots. In my opinion, those belong to a different target market. I think the future sees us taking advantage of the accoutrements of social gaming – achievements,   amazing and feel amazing to play, and that have the one-more-go qualities of the very best gambling games. Erik: Ok, here is one idea… Minecraft meets Quickspin’s Eastern Emeralds. Definitely nothing better!

Mark: In video games there is anticipation, excitement and suspense. Transferring more of that to slot products as well as level up mechanics would be ideal. People like grinding on video games, levelling up and becoming more powerful. Slot players want to feel like they’re gambling but it’s about how we mask that and still give them that level of immersion and progression. David: I would say that an artificial intelligence advisor that helps me bet on a player’s next move, when I am watching an esports tournament. Christopher: A game that allows you to gamble but if you didn’t want to gamble then you could play it normally and still get the same ‘chill out’ factor. The free to play model already exists, but I can see games coming through where the core game is free but that somewhere within the game there is a gambling element that can be unlocked. Loot boxes have that to some extent, where certain games provide players with the odds of winning, but I can see this being taken to the next level in the future.

CIO: Final thoughts? David: We can see a huge influence on the game of betting with artificial intelligence assistants inside the game or as an external side kick to sift through analytics of the game, the history of it and help gamers execute moves or place bets according to where the game evolves.

I can also see gaming vendors using artificial intelligence competing and inserting new characters into video games in real-time to challenge them and up the ante for human players. Christopher: I always make my way to the Games Developers Conference in San Francisco in March to check out the latest trends and influence video games are having on not just the gaming market, but also on online and mobile content. A lot of the trends there often mirror iGaming. In 2017, for example, it was cascading games, and iGaming is no different with cascading slots making a big impact in the last few years. This has worked to attract new audiences with casual gamers identifying similar mechanics in gambling to video games.

I will be very keen to see if mixed reality, VR or AR is  likely to make more progress in the long term, plus where will the next big game trends come from? Battle Royale games such as Fortnite have set new precedents but we’ve also seen how this can change instantly with  players in less than 72 hours. How can we take those 

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