Today, the global video game market is larger than it has ever been, and reports suggest it’s only going to continue to get bigger in the years ahead. According to research compiled by analytics firm Newzoo, the video game industry had a value of $99.6 billion in 2016, with that projected to reach $118.6 billion by 2019. Separately, the online casino gaming, or iGaming, market, is also seeing a remarkable rise of its own: the industry was worth an estimated $45.86 billion last year, with that number expected to reach $56.05 billion by 2018. With both industries not only having a lot in common in terms of thematic concerns but also owing much of their growth to the rise of smartphones and high-speed internet connectivity, it is inevitable, therefore, that a large degree of crossover exists in their offerings. Today, we’re taking a look at just how casino and console gaming have a mutually beneficial relationship.
As we live in an increasingly social age, in which 81% of all Americans use at least one form of social media as of this year, it was inexorable that both console and iGaming developers would attempt to capitalize on players’ willingness and desire to be sociable in their games. The live streaming and broadcast of gameplay have been a major way in which users have been able to become socially engaged with not only their own games, but those of others as well. Only last month, Microsoft rolled out its Beam streaming app to Xbox One users, which affords players with not only the opportunity to broadcast their gameplay as they interact with others, but also to play their favorite games together as well.
You only have to look at some of the stats for leading video gaming live streaming service Twitch to gain an indication of just how popular streaming has become: for instance, the site boasts over 100 million monthly unique users. You might be surprised to find out, however, that live streaming technology was actually embraced by the iGaming industry long before the service took off. In an attempt to more closely emulate a real-life casino experience, online operators began offering games that live stream human dealers and feature real-life casino tables. Take, for instance, William Hill’s Live Blackjack – with its live dealers experience and atmosphere – which allows players to chat with their dealer and play cards in real time. With live streaming, blackjack players get the closest experience to what they would have in a bricks-and-mortar casino. The online casino industry unquestionably innovated the use of live streaming technology for gaming, with console games developers and Twitch following suit.
That being said, it’s not only the case that iGaming that has inspired console gaming; the reverse is also evident. With the aforementioned continual rise of casual and mobile titles, players have become more accustomed to skill-based titles that test their wits as well as their resolve; shallow puzzle games soon gave way to more strategic and challenging titles such as Mobile Strike, The Escapists and Clash Royale at the top of the app store charts. As consumer expectations became reconditioned, the appetite for casino game developers to offer more challenging, skill-based titles also grew stronger. For instance, the majority of online casinos now offer multiple themed variations of skill-based poker and blackjack games, while the Blueprint Gaming-developed Worms Reloaded and Microgaming’s Hitman slot titles also offer players an experience inspired by their console gaming counterparts.
All in all, it is clear that console gaming and iGaming titles have a lot more in common than it may first appear. In addition to the mutually beneficial relationship we’ve outlined above, many titles across both industries share influence – be it from the natural world, pop culture IPs, or any other source of inspiration. The two markets seem intrinsically linked, and as long as they continue to both learn from each other and respond to technological trends, they will surely continue their growth in the years ahead.