Competition & Gamification: Casinos Pursuing Higher Standards for Players

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For all its modern bells and whistles, the casino industry is still very much the dice-throwing, card-shuffling entity that has existed for generations at its heart – and most players are fine with this remarkable endurance. But with a landscape that is more competitive than ever, online casinos are going the extra mile to entice players to choose them, with a major method being gifting. The sports betting, casino, and poker website 888Casino begin its gifting scheme before a prospective player has even joined the site, by advertising $88 in free play on slots like Millionaire Genie, Wild Invasion, and Safari Riches. Attracting players is one thing, but the ability to retain customers is another.

As players can spend their money anywhere they like, casinos must offer a unique, rewarding experience in order to retain customers over long periods of time. 888’s VIP Casino Club provides a means to this end. In addition to gifts of designer goods, jewelry, and more vouchers, the website’s Very Important Players can earn tickets to a Christmas party, a Jon Bon Jovi concert, and weekends in Paris, Miami, and Sochi.

Games like blackjack and roulette are timeless and don’t require the same kind of annual rehash as some video games. In fact, changing up the rules of blackjack too much would render thousands of books, charts, and guides obsolete.

This is one of the reasons why online casinos try to innovate and use gifting techniques, like the aforementioned example, to increase their player base. Although, more changeable games like slots do undergo makeovers to attract new customers. In recent years, elements like progressive jackpots, licensed products, and even virtual reality games have begun appearing in the world’s casinos. However, the success of a gaming site usually hinges on how it treats and appeals to its customers.

Let’s take a look at how online casino gaming is being held to a higher standard, by players and operators alike.

‘Gamifying’ the Customer Experience

Gamification is the process by which something – anything – can be turned into a game. A good example of this involves life RPGs like Habitica and Level Up Life, which task the player with setting ‘quests’ for themselves in the form of things they want or need to do. This can range from washing the dishes to searching for a new job. Little rewards are given to your in-game character when you complete each task, making them stronger.

Gamification for players

Source: Pixabay. An Xbox gamepad.

In marketing circles, gamification has become something of a gold standard for delighting customers. In the United States, the ESA claims that 64% of people play games regularly, with three-quarters of households having at least one gamer within their walls. It’s easy to see why those invested in creating new user experiences might want to leverage this interest to make their own offerings more exciting.

The definition of gamification requires that the existing product is not a game – so why has this approach tickled the fancy of casino companies? This kind of website tends to reward customers for playing games, making deposits, or signing up so adding things like scoreboards and achievements or trophies is a natural extension of this idea. Put another way, the act of playing games becomes a game all of its own.

Oddly enough, this trend has also had an impact on new slots games. While originally luck-based, a desire to attract a younger, millennial demographic has encouraged the creation of more skill-based experiences like Konami’s Beat Square, Arkanoid – yes, the franchise that began in 1986  – and Safari Match, which plays a lot like the many object-matching games out there, such as Bejewelled.

Incentives for Playing

Everybody loves free stuff, yet the gift economy is a complex one. Assuming that the present is given to incentivize a further purchase, such as buying tokens to play casino games, high-value physical items and (any) vouchers bring the greatest satisfaction, according to PR Week. In the former case, it’s because an expensive free gift is a surprise but, in the latter, it’s because vouchers don’t readily lend themselves to comparison.

Gamification las vegas

Source: Pixabay. Las Vegas. 

This need to give players the proverbial moon on a stick might be called standard creep. Due to the increasing quality of service in the gaming space, whether that’s in the areas of accessibility, choice of games, or customer support, players simply want more quality for their money and time. Rather than try to placate demanding players, the onus is on casino enterprises to rise to the challenge. We’ll discuss exactly why next.

Competition

For the layman, it may seem like having several similar businesses doing the same thing in the same town is a bad thing – and, if there aren’t enough customers nearby, it can be. However, as far as consumers are concerned, competition is essential to avoid things like price gouging and profiteering. Competition increases choice lowers prices, and improves customer service, as businesses battle for people’s attention and cash.

Gamification Competition

Source: Pixabay. Paying for goods.

In the online casino sector, there’s significant competition for players. This is why trying to drive down customer expectations with an average product is a bad idea. They will simply go elsewhere. The salient question is why the online casino niche enjoys such activity – and it’s largely due to access. Much like traditional video gaming, casino games are increasingly easy to find, play, and even create.

The mobile phone obviously made a difference in how quickly and easily consumers can play their favourite games but off-the-shelf tools like Unity 3D, coupled with the high number of free YouTube tutorials, mean that even non-programmers can build their own slot machines in a matter of hours. Of course, it’s much harder to get a casino up and running than it is a mobile game, but the barriers for entry for all digital media are falling.

Today, casino outlets are held to almost unachievable standards by players – and that’s a good thing. The appearance of additional payment providers, like PayPal, Skrill, and Neteller, as well as the addition of ‘live’ casino games, is a byproduct of increased competition among gaming websites. As the space becomes more and more crowded, expect the poor-quality sites to disappear and the better ones to gain prominence among the fanbase.

While it may be the wrapping around some truly ancient games, the casino industry remains innovative and dynamic.

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