02 Mar 2009

The Rise of Social Gaming

casual gaming, social gaming, Social media, web 2.0 No Comments

This has to be the new dotcom. Social gaming is driving a whole new industry and creating a new generation of start-ups, primarily in the casual gaming space. Unknown to itself, the online gambling sector has been an innovator in this area. Online Bingo is arguably the most successful social gaming product, worth about £600 million a year in revenues in the UK alone. The product is all about gameplay as a break from the mundane and is built around a community of like minded people (as well as a few players like me who go in and try to buy 40% of the cards!). We were looking at these trends in my previous role at Endemol Gaming, creating “online gameshows” and exploring formats that will work in a real-time social environment.

Some of the recent activity in the casual gaming space:

I’ve believed for a long time that the socialisation of gaming will bring the next wave of growth to operrators and that’s pretty much accepted as fact whenever I discuss it with anyone involved in product development. It’s always been obvious if you look at basic trends. The key point for gambling operators is that if they want to expand their audience in mutliplayer gaming then the experience will have to match what is available in the wider casual market. So far, that’s achievable but there will be really strong product over the course of this year that will take customers away from your Bingo site. So growing the audience is possible but defending your existing revenues will be essential.

There are at least two reponses an operator could make. The first is to make great cash gaming experiences to match what is available on Facebook et al. The second is to acquire or develop free casual games to add to gambling websites. The latter may not make any revenue but it will stop your players going elsewhere for a break and if they are on your site they will eventually fancy some more cash action! Those slots mini-games are just too tempting.

It will be interesting – the freeplay/casual and cash gaming sectors will start to look increasingly similar. We already see the same brands (Monopoly, Tetris, The Price is Right) but what happens when network liquidity is a critical factor? Some of the casual gaming networks who are less sensitive to US political attitudes to gaming will become important aquisition partners for the cash gaming sector.


No Responses to “The Rise of Social Gaming”

Leave a Reply