Gameplay the key to future virtual growth say suppliers

Gameplay the key to future virtual growth say suppliers

Thursday, September 29, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
The key to virtuals is making them just like a real bet

Virtual sports offerings thrive when they produce real betting experiences which can appeal to audiences in both online and offline environments suggested the participants at the recent Betting on Sports conference in London in mid-September.

Contrary to much of the chatter around the enhanced visual effects of virtual sports, suppliers suggested it is the gameplay that will convince the audience to keep coming back to the product.

Neale Deeley, managing director of gaming at virtual sports provider Betradar, said the revenues for operators from virtual sports would come from people who had bet on the product many times. “I defy anybody who has played the product more than 100 times to pay a lot of attention to the look and feel of it rather than the gameplay,” he said. “People who are playing virtuals experience it as a bet, they feel it as a bet. They know it is an RNG behind it, but they want a betting experience.”

His view was echoed by Martin Wachter, chief executive and co-founder at Golden Race, who said that when his company first entered the market it realised that the full graphic experience available at the time was expensive and potentially unnecessary.

“I remember that when we started football we were in competition with Inspired,” he told the audience. “It has the best quality with 3D. But we are looking at attracting customers who bet, which is not necessarily what you do with a good visuals."

Wachter said the RNG involved in the game needed to be connected to the games that had taken place in the virtual tournament. “We hired three bookmakers, so with every league the odds are like real,” he added. “We change the odds based on the outcomes from previous matches.”

Deeley suggested that was about building up the meta-game, whether it be the performance of a league or via the use of statistics through to the odds and results distribution.

“You need the level of detail, so when the punter plays it, they get the same experience from real translated into virtual and that gives them the comfort of playing and ultimately that is where you will generate your income from,” he said.

Golden Race’s main market for retail operations is Africa and Wachter pointed out that the market there was “not like betting shops elsewhere”.

Simon Burrell (pictured above on the panel with Wachter), head of business development at Editec which operates betting shops and corners across sub-Saharan Africa and beyond, said the overall impression he gained was that the betting public was looking for bets which offered instant gratification. But he added that it varied country-by country. ‘There is still an educational process required but it is still a relatively immature market,” he said.

Already established as a hit with punters everywhere is the popularity of football. Deeley pointed out Betradar had introduced virtual tournaments to its offering, launching with the European Championship this last summer and following that up with Champions League version for this season and with African Nations Cup and World Cup versions to come.

He said the interesting statistic as a supplier was that while the new product contributed a 23% increase in revenues, a further 3% increase came from the existing product. “The category of football grew overall,” he said. “So there is a lot to be said for expanding the gameplay with multiple formats, so in the same way as in real sports you grow your tail, with lots of games to give the punter choice.”

Wachter agreed that football was the mainstay for virtuals, pointing out that a recent investment in tennis failed to live up to expectations. “The bookmakers said to us, tennis is our second biggest in-play product, give us a tennis product,” he said. He explained that despite all the suppliers trying to heed the call, tennis just hasn’t captured the imagination on a virtual level with the customers. “The tennis game up to now has failed totally,” he revealed.

Totally Gaming says: Virtual sports is a product which has matured and now is very much a part of the scenery both in land-based and online gambling. It’s appeal as a betting product is clear and the type of developments being talked about by Betradar and Golden Race are likely to broaden its appeal, as per the statistics from Sportradar regarding the uplift due to its new tournament-based games.

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