David Marcus, CEO of Jogo Global, which recently obtained a UKGC licence, examines the current state of the British online gaming sector and highlights why alternative content and gamification tools are key to making a mark in this saturated market
The UK is currently one of the most mature markets in the world, with a myriad of operators offering players an almost unlimited choice of gaming experiences to choose from. Players are particularly spoilt for choice in the world of slots, but the downside to this is that the market, as a result, has also become heavily saturated, with little room for growth.
The findings of the Gambling Act review will undoubtedly spark significant change as to how brands can operate in the UK. Increased restrictions around marketing are expected to come into force, in line with the direction that many European jurisdictions are heading. Inevitably, this will place a greater emphasis on the overall product that an operator can offer and become less reliant on classic marketing initiatives such as free spins and bonus offers.
Operators and suppliers need to be bold to foster growth in a time where it could be incredibly tempting to play it safe. Start-ups can position themselves as disruptors in this scenario, instigating change – the recent regulatory changes and ban of auto-play in the UK, for example, would strike many as negatives for the market, whereas others would see opportunity. Now is the ideal time for operators to consider alternative content and tools to maximise engagement and achieve business growth.
The UK has traditionally been one where slots have always resonated, but the types of games that will revitalise and disrupt the market are the ones that cater to demands for games with a difference.
There will always be demand for land-based inspired content, given the heritage of the UK casino market, but to capture the attention of a new audience and help differentiate an offering, there has to be a willingness to embrace fresh concepts. For instance, crash-style games where players attempt to build a win multiplier and cash-out before a “crash” happens, are growing in popularity. The genre originated from the crypto space but is now being adapted for the online casino sector. There is also significant potential to build on existing bingo products and make them more relevant for today’s marketplace, while Keno is another classic game that can be revitalised to meet the demands of a modern audience.
By focusing on building more niche products like these, future growth can be sparked. The change to UKGC legislation recently enforced, removing auto-play from the market, means there must be other ways to make games more attractive and empowering to play.
New types of games for the marketplace are a certainty, as well as hybrids of existing game types. In addition, slots can be adapted to suit new sensibilities – mini games for sportsbooks, for example, are small versions of games that play in a window while the main screen is still fixed on the latest odds and markets.
Next level gamification
The UK market has no shortage of great games, both in terms of gameplay and aesthetics, but the saturation point is now such that it is difficult for the average player to differentiate one high-quality game from another. Gamification represents a turning point for the industry: it has significant potential to level up existing options and bring players a more immersive gaming experience. Tournaments, for example, provide a unique incentive to repeatedly return to a game where otherwise it would be quickly abandoned. This extra layer of depth in gaming is what UK players want, so adding it is essential to long-term sustainability. Player engagement has to be at the core of game development – if players feel they are sharing in something unique, and are more actively involved in the gaming experience, this will drive retention and make consumers more loyal to a brand, knowing their particular demands are being catered to.
The realms of both alternative content and gamification are spaces in which Jogo Global is producing new, high-quality content. The UK is one of the strongest markets in worldwide gaming, but it has reached a level of saturation that could see it becoming stale if it is not receptive to new ideas. The creative minds capable of creating genre-defining games are already here – it is time for operators to explore the different content and tools available to differentiate their offerings in this market.