As we trundle towards the halfway point of 2019, those interested in the technology used by the casino games industry will be looking forward to such events as G2E 2019 (October) and already preparing for ICE 2020 (February). These events are Meccas for those of us who are casino tech nerds: A kind of Comic-Con or CES for roulette fans, if you will.
As you might imagine, these events are a bit fantastical. Exhibitors showcase nascent technologies like at other conventions, such as 4D slots, VR poker, putting them alongside new games and tech ready for release on the general market. However, while these conventions might tell you what a casino will be like a few years from now, they don’t always give a good idea of what’s trending at the time.
Below, we look at what’s actually happening tech-wise at online casinos in 2019:
The rush to connect games
Progressive jackpot technology has been around for a while, allowing for bigger prizes by connecting players across the globe. There is, however, something of a rush of late to connect the games to offer even bigger prize pools. This can be done in the form of sequels, for example the linking of Gladiator Jackpot slot with the new Gladiator: Road to Rome slot, or by connecting seemingly unrelated games through a shared jackpot prize. It’s basic economy of scale, but it has made for some mammoth prizes.
Slots still on top
Often the key phrase you will hear at those mega-conventions mentioned above is the idea of ‘immersion’. Advances like live dealer tables are designed to spirit you away from your home and put you on to the casino floor. Yet, the escapism offered by online slots still seems to hold most enchantment for players. Indeed, if you try the Golden Lotus slot, a creation by Red Tiger Gaming, you will see there is more emphasis on playability and gentle art-work rather than any attempt to ‘bring you into the game’. Immersive casino gaming is important and growing in popularity, but simple entertainment is also a big draw.
Many Ways to Win
How many paylines do you consider to be standard on a slot game? 1? 5? 20? 50? A few years ago, we started to see an increase in the number of paylines. A standard five-reel, three-row slow might have 243 paylines covering all left to right combinations. Today, you will find games like Wolf Legend (part of the MegaWays range), which offers over 117,000 different payout combinations in the main game. Mind-boggling stuff.
The use of branding in casino games has become one of the key trends over the last few years. There is a plethora of games based on movies and TV shows, but increasingly we see individual celebrities fronting games. Legendary jockey Tony McCoy, for example, appears in a Sporting Legends game. McCoy actually appears as an avatar in the game, guiding you through the bonus game and other special features. It’s a bit bizarre, yet an indicator of where casino games are headed.
Live dealer tables have been the most important trend in casinos over the last few years. The ability to play real games with real people from the comfort of your home was truly revolutionary. However, we are starting to see where these games are headed. In the future, you won’t just join a roulette table to play roulette alone, but engage in other activities – watch football, place bets, play with your friends and so on. Some live dealer tables, such as Football Studio, are already pushing the boundaries in this area. Whisper it, but it might finally be the tipping point where online casinos digitally disrupt the land-based casinos.