Article first published in Gaming Intelligence Quarterly, Jan-Mar 2016 by Daniel Graetzer
2015 was yet another impressive year in the tech world and the bubble has continued to grow. 70 companies joined the famed “unicorn club” (valuation over $1bn) with the majority coming from within the Silicon Valley microcosm. At the recent acclaimed Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, we saw a mind-boggling display of innovation from over 3,600 exhibitors.
While this may be an incredible time for those with their heads firmly buried in the seed capital, zero revenue startup world, those in the gambling industry are wondering what this really means for us, particularly in the rapidly consolidating omni-channel world of online and land-based.
Online multi-player video games have taken the world by storm and none more profoundly than titles such as DOTA2 and League of Legends; with estimated global revenues of USD$748M last year and captive, young audiences of over 188M.
Online gambling comprised 10% of those revenues and over USD$150M of capital has been invested into betting platforms. Expect to see huge eSports growth in the gambling sector as operators realise this is only the beginning.
WEARABLES AND IOT:
We saw our first real entrance into the gaming wearables market in 2015 with William Hill launching their Apple iWatch app and while the novelty may only be adopted by an elite group of Nerdlers (nerd-gamblers), real innovation and adoption in this space is yet to be realised.
From the “Internet of Things” camp, we’ve also seen some impressive innovation, particularly in home devices designed to create a data driven approach to lifestyle. With the huge increase in live sports betting markets and the quality of wearable and IoT devices, I’m predicting there will be some interesting advances in this space, particularly in the UK.
While terms such as responsive, mobile-first and multi-channel have been floating around for a few years now, “omni-channel” is the new buzzword in the gaming industry and it is ushering in the new wave of innovation.
Omni-channel has had a very successful start in the UK with some brands sporting big successes and it remains a key focus for us here at Mediatech, having partnered up with land-based distributor R.Franco to create a holistic omni-channel experience for Spain that is now being taken globally.
With over 22% of European gambling operators identifying the customer experience as the area most in need of innovation – is omni-channel going to save the day?
For those keeping track, the famous Oculus Rift which was acquired by Facebook for $2bn has been making waves in the tech world. While this has piqued some interest in gambling and there are a few products on the market, with some even developing fully immersive virtual casinos, a wider adoption is still yet to come. With a steady release of new VR headsets in 2016, expect to see a few of the big operators try their luck creating new products.
Frictionless payments are one of the biggest business-led trends in the commerce space today and this is making its way into gambling via omni-channel consumer touchpoints. In an age where your grandma can use PayPal to one-click buy video games from Amazon, the market is long overdue for a major consolidation in the payment space. With Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay and a host of other solutions leading the charge towards simple, mobile-first payments, it’s purely a race to the finish line from here.
The cryptocurrency infrastructure that supports Bitcoin is called the Blockchain and has been re-purposed to for some impressive projects (see:http://refugees.bitnation.co), however it is still early days for ratification into gambling. I am predicting (read: praying for) traction here from regulators and operators to seize this disruptive technology and realise the opportunities. Traceable history, de-centralised wallets, verifiable…
These predictions are just the tip of the iceberg. As operators try to engage with the next generation of gamblers, capturing the downstream effect of Silicon Valley tech is the priority of major operators everywhere and I for one am thoroughly looking forward to riding the tech wave all the way from the Californian coast to sunny Madrid. See you all on the other side!