Opinion: Bring thrill of arcades back to life in casinos

Opinion: Bring thrill of arcades back to life in casinos

Thursday, November 26, 2015 Totally Gaming
Darion Lowenstein believes that gambling must replicate the fun and social element of the wider gaming sector

Darion Lowenstein, chief marketing officer of gambling entertainment operator Gamblit Gaming and former Electronic Arts director, takes a look at what the gambling industry can learn from recent developments in the wider gaming industry... 

It’s been a blockbuster period within the mobile gaming sector, with one buyout in the last few weeks that was completely out of this world and should be of great interest to the gambling industry.

Just to put Activision Blizzard’s $5.9bn (€5.6bn) takeover of Candy Crush developer King into perspective, that is nearly $2bn more than Disney’s valuation of Lucasfilm when it bought the Star Wars franchise in 2012. That’s a deal far, far away from what one might imagine a publisher largely known for just one game franchise would fetch. So candy is worth more than The Force?

However, when one really analyses the deal, it makes some sense. Activision essentially bought their way into the Top 10 iOS and Android grossing charts with Candy Crush, and filled major deficiencies it had in its portfolio, namely mobile. Activision can’t release a new Call Of Duty every month, so King brings a fairly consistent, new revenue stream into the company.

Gambling operators might think there is no correlation between what they do and people tapping away on Candy Crush or Call Of Duty, but it’s so important to look at what consumers are playing and what’s selling in the other major game markets. I arrived at Gamblit nearly a year ago after 19 years of making hits in the mobile and console gaming space, and I’ve come to realise that some people in gambling believe they can continue to go about the same path they have trodden for the last 30 years– just switching up licences. However, the reality is that consumers’ tastes are changing and what they play is constantly evolving.

As new consumers come into a gambling age, they want more interactive and social experiences beyond what is currently offered in casinos or in online gambling products. This is evident by the lack of millennial interest in most gambling products today: look at the crowds the pool parties in Vegas draw, then look at how many of them gamble. It’s shockingly low.

Personally, I believe that gambling has a long way to catch up. I’m a millennial who never gambled before joining Gamblit. I went to casinos four to six times a year with groups of friends around 25-40 in age - but we went for food or music as gambling is just not a part of our culture. Nothing on the floor ever captured my interest.

I grew up in arcades and love video games, as do most of my friends. Growing retail experiences like Dave & Busters are living proof that lots of 21-45 year olds want a social gaming experience where they can drink, eat and play video games against each other in a fun setting. How come casinos and mobile wagering products aren’t offering something similar?

At Gamblit, we are doing our best to address these large gaps in the market. I never had any interest in working in the industry until I heard about the very difficult but very exciting innovation that Gamblit was trying to bring to the market.

For me, selfishly, it’s like bringing arcades back to life in casinos. I think it appeals directly to the largest demographic of people walking through the door of a casino, whose gambling habits are dropping year on year. At Gamblit, we want to give people an experience they already enjoy on their phone, tablet, and on their home console, but in a fun, exciting and social setting in a way only a casino can provide.

I’m also very proud of our mobile offering. We’ve test launched seven games now in the UK real money market, where you can download our games on iTunes and play for free, then sign up for a real money account and start wagering. They are unlike anything else in the market and it’s fun bringing wagering into the casual types of games that hundreds of millions of people are already playing every day. It’s a huge challenge – but one I’m loving.

The gambling industry is such a huge one with such massive potential – I think it will see a lot of great change over the next few years, ultimately bringing in more revenue from a large consumer base that’s been waiting for something that speaks to them.

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