When it comes to the online gambling industry, change is the only constant. This is probably the most important thing I have learned in my ten plus years of experience in iGaming.
When I first started playing online, desktop computers were the preferred platform for playing slots on the internet and Flash-based games ran supreme. Today, mobile gaming reigns supreme and a software developer would be looked at like a madman for creating a game that isn’t coded in HTML5.
While industry trends may often surprise players, those of us in the know can tell them from a mile away.
In this article, I will talk about the top 5 trends that will shape the online casino industry in 2021.
Read on to stay ahead of the curve!
Rise of Action Games (aka Action Slots)
Action casino games are probably the most exciting development in the industry since the advent of the live dealer genre. With modern slot machines becoming more and more video game-like, it was only a matter of time before the two genres merged.
What are action slot games?
A hybrid of traditional video games and slot machines, action titles allow players to win money by wagering real cash on their gaming skills.
For example, BetSoft’s Max Quest series is a gambling take on the shooting gallery genre that used to be incredibly popular in the arcades in the 1990s.
Players use their bets to buy resources in the form of ammunition and power-ups. They then use their weapons to shoot down enemies. The players are awarded cash money for each defeated enemy. Stronger enemies are harder to kill, but they give out larger prizes. In order to win money, the player needs to have a good aim and an intuitive understanding of which enemies to target and when.
What software providers are developing action slots?
As of right now, action games are in development in most large software studios, so we can expect dozens of new titles in 2021. Due to non-disclosure agreements, I cannot name any studios or title names, but you would be surprised at just how many top-shelf names are looking into entering this genre.
What are the best casino action games out there?
When it comes to casino action games you can play right now, BetSoft’s Max Quest series is by far the most popular and widely known. The Max Quest series currently has three entries: Dead Man’s Cove, Mission: Amazon, and Rise of the Mummy. Max Quest Dragon Stone is slated for release in 2021.
Continuing Dominance of Mobile Gambling
Long gone are the days of desktop dominance in online gambling. Today, the vast majority of internet casino games are played on portable iOS and Android devices.
Mobile-first approach from casino software developers
As of the last few years, all major software providers have responded to this market demand by developing their games with what I like to call a mobile-first approach.
New titles are coded in HTML5, which means that they can be opened by any desktop or mobile browser.
As far as design language goes, new titles are, first and foremost, designed with smartphone players in mind.
Further growth of the mobile gaming market in 2021
As the gambling market grows in 2021, more and more new players will be introduced to it via mobile. With game interfaces being tailored to mobile gaming, there is very little reason for someone to choose to play on a laptop or desktop computer over a smartphone or a tablet.
Due to this, you can expect all new titles to be available on mobile out of the box and many old favorites to be ported over to HTML5 for mobile compatibility.
Rise of eSports Betting
eSports is a term used to describe competitive video gaming. Gaming tournaments have been around since the 1980s. The first professional tournaments with large cash prizes started appearing in the 1990s and the 2000s. The 2010s saw eSports going truly mainstream. And by the time the 2020s are over, I believe that eSports will become the most popular kind of sports out there. And it is in sports betting that we will start to see the first signs of this impending change.
Betting on these events has been gaining popularity for several years now, but I believe that it will be in 2021 that eSports betting will start rivaling traditional sports betting in terms of global bet size.
eSports: A tale of continued growth
While mainstream media pundits were completely blindsided by the rise of competitive gaming, anyone even remotely interested in eSports knew that its rise was inevitable.
eSports was experiencing a meteoric rise for many years before the pandemic, with viewership figures for major tournaments obliterating those of traditional sports. The top players of such games as League of Legends, Dota2, CS:GO, Overwatch, and Fortnite are seen by Gen-Z viewers in the same light as EPL, NBA, and Bundesliga stars are seen by older generations.
Quarantine-fueled esports betting explosion
While eSports betting would have experienced steady growth even without the aid of any pandemic, the global health crisis certainly helped it gain a lot of exposure.
With most traditional sports canceled, millions of bettors around the globe were introduced to the world of eSports betting.
And it couldn’t have happened at a better time.
With the average age of a sports bettor being around 35-45, the vast majority of these people have played video games at least a few times in their life. But most of them didn’t know how big competitive gaming has become or that you could bet on these events. Now that a large chunk of the betting public is exposed to eSports betting, the industry has become more mainstream than ever.
Rise of Virtual Reality Gambling
While VR looked like a fad just a few years ago, everyone in the know now understands that it is here to stay. When it comes to VR gambling, several studios are hard at work trying to merge the two industries together.
Studios around the world are experimenting with ways of using virtual reality to make online gambling be as lifelike as possible. The most popular effort so far is VR Casino by ME2ON, which is available on the Oculus store, but we’ve yet to see a killer app that would make non-VR gambling seem like a thing of the past.
Truth in numbers
Despite the lack of a killer app, the VR gambling industry is very healthy.
With the introduction of many new titles to the fold, many of my contacts in the iGaming industry predict that VR gambling could generate as much as 200-300 billion USD in revenue in 2021.
And as more and more households purchase VR helmets, this industry will only continue its meteoric rise.
VR live casinos
Most studios right now are experimenting with VR in their virtual table games. But I, for one, am more interested in the way studios like Evolution, NetEnt, and Pragmatic Play will be able to integrate VR into their live dealer games.
Think about it, a virtual reality-powered life casino would literally have a player interacting with real casino equipment and human dealers in simulated reality. This technology blowing up could, in fact, spell the end of land-based casino gambling as we know it.
Cryptocurrency Casinos (aka Bitcoin Casinos)
Crypto gambling is nothing new. The oldest players in the crypto gaming industry have been around for over a decade and a large portion of large mainstream betting venues do, in fact, support Bitcoin slots and table games. What will change in 2021 is the number of altcoins (non-Bitcoin cryptos) that will be supported by venues and the availability of crypto games.
Current State of Bitcoin Gambling
Today, many internet game houses support playing with Bitcoin (BTC). And some of the more forward-thinking venues also support betting in Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Tether (USDT), and Ethereum (ETH).
Playing with crypto isn’t smooth sailing, however. Only a fraction of the total game library of these website supports non-fiat currency bets. Likewise, in many cases, crypto users are offered worse bonuses and promo deals than their fiat counterparts.
2021 Crypto Gambling Revolution
Based on my research and information from industry contacts, I believe that the following key developments will happen in 2021:
- Rise of altcoin play. Many venues continue embracing cryptos other than BTC and the other usual suspects. It is very likely that you will be able to place bets in Ripple (XRP), Monero (XMR), EOS (EOS), Bitcoin SV (BSV), Binance Coin (BNB), and even Facebook’s Libra (LIBRA) at many venues before the end of this year.
- More crypto games. As more developers jump on the bandwagon, we will undoubtedly see more classic games introduce crypto support and more new slot games come with it out of the box.
- Better cryptocurrency bonuses. As more and more people start betting with non-fiat currencies and the market grows, venues will have no other choice but to make their crypto bonuses be as lucrative as their non-crypto ones.
- Crypto-exclusive games will proliferate. If you’re a dedicated gambler, you no doubt heard of Crash, a social crypto-only game that has taken the world by storm in 2020. Like many people in the industry, I believe that Crash was just the first game of its kind and that many popular and unique crypto-only titles will appear in 2021.