How has competition in the bingo industry delivered innovation?
The bingo sector has helped support the overall growth of the gambling industry online, which itself has become a powerhouse industry. And while games like blackjack, poker, and roulette often suit the needs of more traditional players, slots and bingo, in particular, have helped the industry engage with a more casual gamer.
The growth of the industry during its early days, following the launch of the first-ever casino websites around the mid-90s, can be attributed to players who enjoyed the games offline taking their hobbies online.
But, while it’s true that many online bingo players previously enjoyed – or continue to enjoy – bingo offline in traditional halls, the game online has succeeded in creating new players, and helping brands find customers that their traditional casino offerings otherwise wouldn’t.
Much like the industry at large, competition between brands has helped drive the product forward, introducing new innovations, gimmicks, and other immersive elements that have helped to deliver a more entertaining experience to new and existing players.
Like in any marketplace, websites have aimed to stand out from one another and develop an identity that is distinct. The challenge, of course, is to strike a balance between engaging with a high number of players while offering something that others don’t.
Lifestyle changes and evolving leisure habits are also key factors, which is why bingo providers invest so much in areas like app development. They recognize that the smartphone is now the primary platform for many online bingo players, so the products offered must suit the small screen.
Products are also being designed to offer quick bursts of action, for example, as well as casino and bingo titles, mobile puzzle games such as Monument Valley and Two Dots, provide players with a quick, colorful slice of respite. Furthermore, while it isn’t uncommon to spend several hours playing games on a laptop, casual players using a phone are less likely to invest huge amounts of time in a game. Staring at a small screen for long periods isn’t the best way to relax, while battery life is also a consideration.
The development of new games is also a crucial battleground and, as well as the mechanic of the gameplay itself, such as how many rows to win, how many total numbers and how the prizes are calculated, providers are increasingly purchasing the licenses for other well-known media brands.
It is more common than ever to see themed spin-offs in the industry, such as TV shows like Deal or No Deal and The Voice on online casino sites like Buzz Bingo. While bespoke gambling brands like Rainbow Riches help capture the imagination of players, many providers are discovering that recognizable brands from outside the industry help captivate an even broader audience.
This also has a pay-off for the license holders themselves. As the way we consume media changes, film studios and record companies are chasing new opportunities to cash in on their assets. One example is the Rock Band series of games, with developer Harmonix poised to release a new DJing game that uses music from the likes of Chainsmokers and Billie Eilish.
The online marketplace is moving quickly, with the increase in internet cut-through, in developing nations in North Africa and South Asia, likely to heavily influence how bingo games are developed in the future.
With more basic smartphones being offered to new markets, it’s likely that much of the focus will be on offering bingo games that aren’t resource-heavy and don’t require a hi-spec handset. So, whilst developers have long battled to offer the most vivid experiences, it is perhaps those that can offer the best stripped-down solution that will reap the richest rewards moving forward.
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