Mobile casino games account for 50% of the global gaming market, and the most popular are slots.
Hardly surprising, slots are simple to play, but they’re compelling and allow the player to spend relatively small amounts with the prospect of large rewards. Games like jackpot king may seem like a far cry from those flashing boxes that stand in the corner of bars and clubs, but the principle is the same.
It may not surprise you to learn that they were a hit from the off. The first slot was invented by Charles Fey in 1894, and little has fundamentally changed.
By 1960 slot machines had electronic components instead of mechanical ones, by 1980 video slots were introduced. But, in essence, your online slot machine is a version of what Fey dubbed the Liberty Bell, but with a lot more going on behind the scenes.
And by a lot more, we’re talking about levels that would have been unheard of thirty years ago, let’s put that into context.
If you were around in 1994 you may remember playing Snake on your Nokia. Snake was the first mobile game that became universally popular: 350 million devices worldwide had it.
This was before the age of smartphones, these became popular in 2011 and within two years there were over 100 online casinos in operation. A decade later the global online gaming market size is worth about USD 205 billion, by 2032 it’s expected to be in the region of USD 440 billion.
But what about slots? In the UK alone 72% of all online casino games are slots. If we were to apply that to the global online gaming market, it means that slots are worth in the region of USD 150 billion.
What has driven this increase in online slot gaming? To answer that question there are several key factors at play, so let’s check some of them out.
Competition has driven game designers to pull out the stops to develop increasingly sophisticated games. And there is no doubt that advances in AI have helped to make this side of the business far more involved.
Factor in machine learning, where the software can teach itself how to improve functionality, games used to go from concept to realization in less than three years. You may be expecting that figure to be lower these days, but you’d been mistaken.
In fact, it takes longer to develop a game precisely because of A1 and machine learning. And the result is games that would have been impossible a few years ago.
These days games look and feel sensational, they’re more complex and compelling, but surely with slot games, it’s just business as usual?
Well, no. AI has been fundamental in helping to develop slot games too.
It may not be as obvious -there is a finite amount you can do with what is essentially a static interface- but behind the scenes, it’s a different story.
AI isn’t just important in how a game develops; it’s used to keep the player engaged with the slot in question. For example, AI can detect payout rates in relationship to what’s being paid in and offer more free spins or bonuses to keep the player engaged.
Also, there is so much more choice than there was a decade ago. Businesses have cottoned onto the idea that the market is ripe for slots, and competition is rife.
You can now play slots for free for real money such is the competitiveness between online casinos. And many offer reward schemes for loyalty.
Slots On The Move
If we were to cite one specific thing that has helped drive the growth of slots it would probably be the smartphone. Being able to play slots anywhere there’s a wireless connection has boosted the industry immeasurably.
The good news for everyone is that this will only improve in line with (among others) better connectivity, battery life and device technology. Think, for example how the touchscreen has transformed the way we play while on the move.
Now imagine playing slots in 3D without the need to wear a cumbersome headset anywhere your heart desires. Well, you won’t have to imagine for long.
Google Glass may not have hit the spot, but the industry was paying very close attention. There are several devices in development, and so long as the price point is right, ‘smart glasses’ are waiting to revolutionize the way we interact with our devices.
Of course, such developments will have ramifications for everything we do online, but when it comes to mobile gaming, it’s a whole new world.
As for slots, well, we’ve already touched on the limits of what you can do with what’s essentially a static interface. Maybe that’s all about to change too.