The casino industry has proven throughout the years that it is far more robust and able to withstand any economic issues than many other industries. Innovators who constantly strive for new ways to design casino games and can push boundaries have been vital in driving the industry forward.
Immersive gameplay is just one of many components we’re referring to. A game with an immersive gameplay feature focuses more on providing you with an experience to captivate you, which we’ll get into in more detail today with iGaming expert Ronny Eversen.
Ronny, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. So, what attracted you to iGaming?
Thank you for having me. Firstly, iGaming is something that has taken the casino industry by storm; that’s the attraction. The advent of smartphone technology and the widespread use of the internet has created a pathway for people to innovate and create vivid, immersive and captivating online casino games, which is very exciting. As this industry has continued to expand exponentially, we have hardly been able to keep up with the ferocious pace.
Part of the challenge for this sector’s highly talented and inventive innovators is creating new play methods. It’s been over 20 years since iGaming started to impact the casino industry significantly. Yet, it continues to grow in scope and visibility. There’s still so much going on, still so much to discover and being part of an industry that refuses to rest on its laurels is part of the excitement that gets me up in the morning.
Can you explain iGaming in its most basic form?
Sure, iGaming is just online gambling. Whether it is sports betting or casino gaming, if you do it online, it falls into the bracket of iGaming. So, if you play casino games on your laptop or mobile phone, this would be iGaming. If you place a sports bet at the weekend using the same device, this is also classified as iGaming.
For today’s interview, we will be sticking to casinos. So, what’s immersive gameplay?
Immersive gameplay in casino gaming is the ability to bridge the gap between land-based casinos and digital ones. The idea initially stems from video gaming, where you are brought into the world of a main character. As the goal of iGaming is to attract people who enjoy casino gaming, immersion involves providing a foundation that has the same feel as a land-based casino, whether that is through live tables or, more recently, a VR headset. Ultimately, it is about providing the best experience for the customer.
Virtual reality? Will that start to play a role in immersive casino gaming?
Yes, I think so. The whole point of immersive gaming is to make the casino player feel like they’re in the casino, and what better way than to use a VR headset? Some people in the industry believe this is the final hurdle for the total transition from land-based to online casinos.
Currently, VR headsets are costly, and few casinos specialize in providing this service. However, a decade from now? This whole landscape could totally change. Again, as I referred to, the innovations and the refusal of the industry to stay in one spot make the industry so exciting.
What is the art of immersive gameplay? How does that impact the casino player?
Providing a facility where the whole experience is more convenient and encapsulates the true essence of a casino are the two driving factors in the world of iGaming. Convenience comes from innovation. Casinos were some of the first companies to take the rise of the internet seriously in the mid to late 1990s and look where it’s landed them — at the precipice of a multibillion-pound industry.
It’d be silly to suggest that’s the only significant innovation that has helped to bring more convenience to the industry. Ultimately, this was the “big bang” — where iGaming was born. Casino companies realised pretty quickly that having the ability to provide an online casino to millions of people worldwide, instead of building a casino down the road and having to pay rent and bills, was a better way to go, so the rhetoric switched very quickly.
With more money coming into the sector, the innovations came quicker because the profit margins were higher. This meant the overall quality of the game design improved, and the competition became stronger between leading game designers. When you throw that into the boiling pot with a world that was slowly warming to the idea of the smartphone and millions more people being able to afford the internet, this was the start of an outrageously profitable time for casino gaming.
As I see it, when the best designers, computer graphic artists and designers move into a sector en masse, it becomes art. Providing casino customers with an experience from home, as if they are in a land-based casino, being able to transport somebody without them having to move physically, that’s what art is. Whether it’s music, immersive gameplay or movies, you want an experience that encapsulates you, and that is where the artistry of iGaming is.
Eloquently put. Okay, I suppose the next question is, where do you see the peak of this industry occurring? Nothing lasts forever.
I mean, that’s not necessarily true. The banking industry is over 200 years old. Some professional sports teams are of a similar age, and mobile phones and the internet aren’t going away soon. Are people suddenly going to stop using the internet? People are glued to their phones, and the iGaming industry has positioned itself perfectly in the market where more people look down at their phones and play the games we are designing.
The industry might plateau, but it’s benefitting from a few positive variables currently and a handful of these are still in their primitive stages. For example, the United States gambling market is one of the biggest on Earth. However, 10 years ago, there were barely any states where you could gamble online. In 2018, this all changed, and over a dozen states have legalized online gambling, which has caused an influx of millions of customers.
Some enormous states are still yet to pass any legislation, and the same applies to parts of Canada too. So, when you combine this with the billions of phones worldwide, more people continually being able to connect to the internet, and more companies and industries purposely designing their services for mobile gamers, there’s a long way to go.
While I agree nothing lasts forever, the innovation in iGaming has continued to grow despite economic uncertainty, and it shouldn’t slow down at any point soon. Many business analysts and economists who examine the e-commerce sector identify iGaming as one of the leading growth sectors. More institutions are investing big money in companies within the industry, and nothing suggests it will retract.
Okay, final question Ronny. Again, thank you so much for your insight today. Where is the iGaming industry 20 years from now, in your opinion?
Well, that’s a question I could answer all day. However, I’ll try and keep it as concise as I can. As I’ve mentioned today, iGaming really boils down to two things. Firstly, providing a convenient experience for people within the industry to enhance their experience, and secondly, using innovation to drive growth. The latter point is the most crucial when we look to the future.
Sure, convenience is what gets people to the site, but it’s the innovation that keeps people talking. Artistry and design help to engage people visually. If you continuously offer the same experience, people will get bored eventually, and the magic will disappear. However, how can the magic disappear for those in the iGaming industry when there’s such incredible competition between the best game designers in the world? With the prize at the end of the road being potentially tens of millions of pounds of profit, this is the most significant incentive. Because of the investment that continues to roll in, the stakes are higher, fuelling endless innovations.
In 20 years from now, for actual casino players, I think we’ll be in a world utilizing the best and most convenient ways to gamble. If I were to guess, I’d say virtual reality casinos will become a massive hit over the next decade and could be one of the most popular avenues to gamble two decades from now. In addition, new payment methods are becoming very popular, so maybe cryptocurrency VR casinos with sophisticated tables driven by AI technology?
It might sound a bit futuristic now, but if you’d have asked me the same question 20 years ago when mobile phones didn’t even have the internet, and I told you that mobile phone gambling, immersive gaming, new payment methods and VR gaming are all possible in today’s world, you’d probably have had the same reaction. Daring to dream and daring to be great is art, which continues to happen in iGaming.