Social casino games are massive, with a rocketing mobile audience. In fact, the social casino industry is expected to be worth $3 billion by the end of 2015.
Traditional gambling is a nail-biting experience, driven by the desire to win money and the fear of losing it, but social casino isn’t dependent on players’ anxiety levels to be enjoyable; in fact, the opposite is true: users find social casino games relaxing.
• Mobile casino players are more than twice as likely as PC players to make monthly in-game purchases. PC payers spend 97% more on average than their mobile counterparts each month.
• Social media ads are how 53% of social casino players hear about new games. Social casino games stand apart from most video game genres, where word-of-mouth is the most common way to learn about new games.
• Seventy percent (70%) of social casino players return to a game after quitting. New features and bug fixes lure back more former players than promotions or bonus in-game currency.
Social casino may be pure entertainment, but players are still deeply incentivized to play. Data shows that new players quickly become very motivated to accumulate virtual currency and tend to come back every day. Many players join forums where they discuss in detail the acquisition of virtual chips or coins. Social casino players have different motivations – they are more gamers than gamblers. They want to progress through the game, to “win” the game.
With the virtual economy balanced as if it were real, the challenge is to keep players engaged even if they “go broke”. Here’s where the games employ similar mechanics to other social games, like Candy Crush Saga or Farmville, and differ wildly from real casinos, in that they offer free virtual money. Imagine free money in a real casino!
So you can send coins to your friends and they can send you coins back, and free currency is given out at frequent intervals in the lobby. And, of course, social media allows developers to distribute extra virtual currency via multiple channels. Mirrorball Slots, for instance, has 1.2 million fans on its Facebook page and posts links to free currency once or twice a day, at least.
More than Just Winning the Game
And the trend is not limited to online gaming. Las Vegas recognizes that a new generation of visitor is less interested in traditional gambling, and more inclined to seek out the alternative, “cooler” forms of entertainment that the gambling hub has to offer: restaurants, bars and nightclubs. While social casino online has always looked to Vegas for inspiration, the city itself can also take some lessons from social operators as it begins to place more focus on its non-gambling entertainment offerings.
Developers must work harder than real-money online casinos to keep players happy and so social casinos must constantly evolve and innovate, developing new games frequently, and building meta-features on top of their base games. These features include devices such as weekly leaderboards and challenges with incentives of even more prizes and rewards to collect. Social casino games also tend to look a lot prettier than their real-money counterparts.
A Broader Target Market
The social-casino player demographic is broad and it’s getting broader. The traditional real-money slots playing demographic – and slots is by far the most popular type of social casino game – has traditionally been female and above the age of 40. While that’s probably still true of social slots gamers in the United States, in Italy, for example, it tends to be a younger, male thing. There’s also a difference by platform: Facebook tends to be a little bit older; iOS a bit younger, a bit more focused on the latest trends.
But, ultimately, all kinds of people are playing them and that’s because they are relaxing and fun. Casino operators and other iGaming companies must look further than generating revenue and regulation in order to sustain this growth.
Some predicted trends in the social casino gaming are the following:
• More Non-Traditional Gaming Brands Entering the Social Casino Market
• Continued Consolidation/Acquisitions
• More Casinos Launching Play-Money and Real-Money Sites
• More Deals in the US as the Market Continues “Wait and See”
• More Targeting of Growth Markets interested in Social Casino (Asia, Australia, South America)
• More eyes on trending/niche games in an online boom. ie: Chinese Poker, Baccarat, Live Dealer
• Continued Cross-selling of Products
• Reaching Non-Traditional Online Gamers in Hopes of Convergence
• Differentiation and brand identity
• Continued emphasis on LTV – Greater Efforts to Hold Onto Existing Players
• New creative marketing methods of social casino player acquisition
• More Innovation/Production of new games and formats
• Innovation of delivery methods of existing game formats (ie. PokerStars – Spin & Go)
• Mobile gaming UI/UX will get smarter
• More localisation
• Better security & payment methods
• Player anonymity
• Increased use of social media
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