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Will skill-based gaming change the shape of the gambling industry?

Steve Aoki’s Neon Dream VGM gaming gambling

Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas predicts a large yet cautious increase in skill-based gaming/video game gambling.

Many companies at the Expo debuted skill-based games.  The move comes in a bid to attract a younger audience, sustaining casino engagement amongst the millennial demographic.

While traditional casino slot games are based purely on luck, the new games bring in video game elements.  Although the games started slowly, they are now gaining serious traction in casinos.

Gambling is becoming increasingly digitalized while, in turn, gaming is becoming ‘gamblified’

The International Gaming Institute believes that video games and gambling games are converging. Gambling is becoming increasingly digitalized while, in turn, gaming is becoming ‘gamblified’.

Game developers, researchers and marketing leads at G2E held a panel discussion on the present and future of skill-based gambling.  Panel members admitted the market is taking them by surprise. “We thought our games would be more successful in bars,” said Darion Lowenstein, Marketing Officer of Gamblit. “That was completely wrong, and they are more successful on the gaming floor.”

The panel recognised that skill-based gaming is very different from slot play and needs to be approached with caution.  Both Lowenstein and Blaine Graboyes, CEO of GameCo, explained that skill games require regular testing, making large-scale rollouts risky.

G2E showcased various new skill-based games.  Konami launched its rhythm based Beat Square, a fast skill game in which the player matches squares to the beat of the music.  The game borrows from the likes of Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero, but adds a gambling twist.  The company also displayed its upgraded Frogger: Get Hoppin’ and brand new Crystal Cyclone at the conference.

The GameCo booth was a hot favourite.  It offered a preview of the much-anticipated Terminator 2: Judgement Day.  The first-person action shooter is based on the hit film and will hit casino floors early in 2018.  Celebrity visitor Steve Aoki also drew crowds.  He has collaborated with GameCo on the infinite runner title Steve Aoki’s Neon Dream – one of the conference’s most talked about new releases.

Skill games are starting to crop up in a variety of locations, both across the United States and around the world.  Trial locations so far include cruise ships, Las Vegas casinos and Oklahoma gaming venues.  The initial response, both from casinos and players has been positive.

However big casinos have not committed wholeheartedly in the concept – yet.  It seems this particular segment of the casino industry, while exciting, is still in its infancy.

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