Gaming trends for 2018 aim to expand market

Last week we shared with you five gaming trends we anticipate in 2018, and here are another five that we expect to affect the industry this year:

• Social casino gambling: With the swipe of a finger, social gaming technology is exposing players to hundreds of new games they can’t find on most casino floors. Content will always be king — but capturing new social gaming players and keeping them engaged is changing the game for industry developers. That technology will continue to explode, as emerging social casinos will dominate the space this year. The more places players can find games they love, the more we expect this gaming trend to become a mainstay.

• Augmented reality: Pokémon Go was all the rage in 2017 and while chasing cartoon characters that appeared on smartphones turned out to be a fad, Pokémon Go helped get the world ready for augmented reality. Augmented reality will play a major role in the evolution of gaming products in 2018 and is giving virtual reality a run for its money. While VR requires an interactive space, it’s mostly confined to one area. AR, on the other hand, creates an immersive gaming environment to make the player feel like they’re living the game. And the technology will only get better this year.

• It’s a good time to be live gaming: Blackjack and roulette brought directly to your living room already was prevalent in 2017. And with the rising advent of live forums and technology, the live casino platform is only expected to flourish in 2018. Live casino dealers and traditional games are expected to remain popular choices, but next year, expect new variety in the live casino sector as innovative games rapidly enter the platform.

• Upping the ante: Twenty-five years ago, a $1 million jackpot was a rare sight on the Strip. Today, it’s commonplace. And this year, the Global Gaming Expo was evidence of slot manufacturers returning to higher-denomination slots. Generally, suppliers’ repertoires include a strong showing of high-stakes games, but now players seem willing to risk more in exchange for that rush of higher returns. Penny slots will likely always be a staple, but 2018 appears primed for a big year in the high-denomination space.

• Niche gaming: Gone are the days of marketing to the masses. In 2018, expect casinos to get to know you better. High-limit rooms are the quintessential example of niche gaming. Over time, the art of catering to a player’s particular gaming preferences has become more refined. By targeting specific players, niche gaming builds loyalty. And it’s something gaming establishments will bank on this year.

Ellen F. Whittemore is a shareholder and Mackenzie Warren is an associate with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.