There are many people who are really into casino games and love to try slots from different developers. It’s incredibly difficult to come up with fresh ideas, mainly because casinos offer similar content. There are card games like blackjack, poker, and baccarat that have slight variations but ultimately play the same. Slots, on the other hand, give developers more freedom, but they strive to keep the core design philosophy intact. Unfortunately, the old fruit machine is over a century old, and there is only so much you can do to stretch that specific concept.
Developers even face additional constraints. They need to use a specific framework in order to make casino games compatible with browsers and smartphones. The main idea behind real money online casino sites is to be as accessible as possible. They aim to attract new users by relying on promotions and an expansive game library, rather than exclusive content. Here we will talk about game design challenges and trends in 2022, and try to speculate how casino games will continue to evolve.
Designing Around Hit Frequency
Almost all video games incorporate skinner box into their design. Basically, in order for players to continue engaging with your game, you need to have some sort of gratification mechanism. It can be granting them a level to power up their character, new equipment, or some sort of in-game resource. For casino games, this is really evident in slots. You press the button, and you can get a reward. You don’t win every spin, but players should still win frequently in order to keep playing.
Of course, players are very cognizant of how games are designed and how they work, and they can often be frustrated by the slots that have high hit frequency. The reason being is that you aren’t getting meaningful rewards but rather losing your money at a slower pace. Of course, if the slot has a progressive jackpot then high hit frequency is better as you get more shots at winning the coveted prize. To sum up, players have different preferences, and that’s why designers try to cater to everyone.
Slots are known for their variety, and players can choose between low, mid, and high volatility. Slots with high volatility have a lower hit frequency but give more meaningful rewards. The reason players love these is that they aren’t time-consuming. You will either lose quickly, or you will get lucky and win big. As players spent less time on those, they are unlikely to turn it into a habit and fall under the common gambler’s fallacy. Low volatility slots, on the other hand, are way better if you have a smaller budget and want to extend your gaming session.
Different Types of Slots
Although hit frequency plays an important role, it doesn’t do much to change how the game looks or plays. This is why innovation is extremely important, as it prevents casino gamers from getting bored. Innovation, in this case, means creating slots that have different numbers of pay lines and reels, as well as multiple interactions between symbols.
Luckily it doesn’t stop there. Some trends in 2022 indicate that players love to see cascading slots. This means that whenever you score a winning combination, those symbols disappear, and new ones occupy their position allowing for additional combinations to be formed. Furthermore, we have seen lots of innovation in bonus rounds. Some of these bonus rounds are an entirely different mini-game that can be quite engaging. Players often have to rely on skill in order to truly benefit and get some neat multipliers. Of course, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and there are plenty of slots that don’t utilize this design philosophy.
It’s really common to get a bonus round that includes free spins with multipliers where you simply get to enjoy the pure profit.
One thing that online casinos currently lack is unique content. Operators use almost similar software providers, so you can find lots of the same slots on multiple sites. That being said, there are operators that have slot titles that are exclusively for their website, but in most cases, that’s just a unique theme with similar gameplay to other slots. In other words, the only innovation comes in the form of themes. Now, this goes beyond simple graphic design, as in many cases, developers want to do the theme justice. So, symbol interactions and bonus rounds will be designed in accordance with a specific theme. But what players want is new and different content.
Land-based casinos really excel in this area. Big gambling hubs have all sorts of games and these don’t have anything to do with slots. You have first-person shooters where random enemies can drop rewards in the form of coins. There is even a Pac-Man version, Pac-Man Battle, to be precise, and it’s a casino game where you play against your friends. You all put down money, and the winner takes all. In other words, modern gambling establishments often resemble arcades aimed at grown-ups. This is a great way to make content more appealing to millennials who grew up playing video games.
Currently, we don’t have these options in online casinos. As mentioned, the goal is to make content accessible or compatible with browsers and smartphones. This limits what developers can do. However, technology is improving. We have a better internet connection, better hardware in our smartphones, and better browsers. So it’s very possible we will see these design trends move onto the online gambling space.
One of the more recent trends is allowing players to use cryptocurrency to fund their accounts. Although it doesn’t affect the game in any way it still opens up a lot of possibilities. Many developers are leveraging blockchain to create unique game mechanics and to create play-to-earn games. Furthermore, it gave birth to another trend known as the NFTs. The value of NFTs can vary, but they are still viewed as assets and valid rewards in some cases.
As new video games are developed using blockchain, it opens up new possibilities for gambling content. We have seen how certain platforms allow CS: GO players to wager and win different skins that they can use. These skins or cosmetics work very similarly to NFTs, so it’s quite possible we will see similar trends to skin wagering. This is a great way to attract new audiences and also increase the value of digital assets available in other popular IPs.
Additionally, leveraging blockchain and cryptocurrencies can still impact the overall user experience. Many sites that allow gamblers to use this payment method permit them to play with certain perks. For example, players who use crypto are not obliged to create an account. They can play anonymously, using a dedicated URL, and avoid sharing any sensitive information.
We cannot talk about game development in general without mentioning VR. Recently this type of content has been gaining a lot of traction, especially since Metaverse was announced. In all honesty, VR casinos have been around for some time, much like casino video games, but they were never as popular as regular online casinos. They are less accessible, and people mainly come to play slots or table games, they aren’t there to get an amazing VR experience.
Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that VR casinos won’t become a thing eventually. As gaming gear becomes cheaper and readily available, the infrastructure will change. There will be lots of gaming studios experimenting with this technology, and we might get entirely new gambling content. We already mentioned how gambling was interwoven with first-person shooter games, which is a genre that is very popular among the VR community. So, we might get options like that.
The same can be applied to Beat Saber, and slicing specific boxes might give you an extra reward. Basically, it’s possible to get advanced arcades where you can win money, and that concept sounds really appealing to some. Of course, it’s still speculation, and people were wrong about the trends in the past, so it’s anyone’s guess at this point.
One thing is certain though, and that is that players want to have access to a more authentic gambling experience. This is evident from the big popularity of live-dealer games. It’s not like VR, but it still gives players a chance to interact with real people or real dealers.
Expanding Sports Betting Options
Many gamblers don’t even play slots or other casino content, for that matter. They are only there to bet on sports events. This is a sizable chunk of the gambling community and one that operators want to keep. In fact, much of the casino content is aimed at sports fans to convince them to try slots. This is why there are so many sports theme titles.
However, the best way to please this user group is simply to offer more enticing betting options or add more sports to your sportsbook. We are seeing more and more operators adding eSports betting to their platforms. Unfortunately, this is still relatively new, and developers need accurate algorithms to expand eSports betting options. Right now, you can only put money on who will win, and it is rare to find sites that offer bets specifically for MOBA or FPS or that even offer live bets. For example, it’s difficult to put odds on a support hero getting the First Blood in League of Legends. Yet having these types of bets would definitely make the whole thing more interesting.
We have also seen a rise in fantasy sports, so expanding that market and adding new content could be the direction that developers will take.
Another important factor in this industry is community. Games that have a bigger player base that can exchange their experience generally have better longevity. In all honesty, casinos are trying to make this concept work. Once again, live dealer content aims to provide a more social experience. We have also seen tournaments for slots, even if these two concepts are practically incompatible. So, it’s entirely possible that more multiplayer options will become a thing.
Right now there are sites with poker rooms that host poker tournaments, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Getting Pac-Man Battle to an online community would definitely be a step in the right direction. Slots can also be modified to accommodate multiple users at the same time, and match-making algorithms already exist, the only problem is how to make it work in both players’ and operators’ favor.
In addition to tournaments, operators are trying to build communities by external means, like VIP programs, communication on gambling forums, and live bingo games. It’s not ideal, but it’s still something.
To sum up, there are no drastic changes to the current online casino content, but it’s evident that there are a lot of experiments in the background. The industry is performing well, so there is no pressure to make drastic changes. Yet software providers are trying to compete and come up with better entertainment. The issue is whether operators will be interested in purchasing those additional options. It is safe to assume that once browsers and smartphones can support more complex software things will start to shift. Also, there are other operators trying to break into this market so they are likely to invest in creating alternative gambling experiences. This way they can capture a more niche audience.
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