This is part of a series on the convergence of video games and the casino industry and opportunities for non-casino game developers. Part 1 focused on mobile games. Part 2 focused on skill-based games. This is the final article in the series and focuses on esports and virtual reality.
Esports and virtual reality are coming to casinos. At the Downtown Grand in Las Vegas, esports have already arrived and at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) esports and virtual reality were on display in major ways. Multiple panels were dedicated to the topic of esports and Gamblit Gaming showcased the possible future of VR and esports on casino floors with their G-Sports station and Virtual Reality Cube (VRC).
This is part of a series on the convergence of video games and the casino industry and opportunities for non-casino game developers. This article focuses on skill-based games. Part 1 focuses on mobile games. Part 3 focuses on spectator events such as esports and virtual reality.
At the recent Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, panels and attractions with companies such as Caesars, IGT, Gamblit Gaming, GameCo and Competition Interactive made one thing abundantly clear: The video game and casino industries are converging. This promises not only new sources of revenue for casinos, but new opportunities for game developers outside the casino industry as well.
About 40 indie games were lined up on September 27th to flocks of visitors at the Tivoli Vredenburg music complex in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The 7th edition of the INDIGO Showcase included an international mix of games ranging from prototypes to fully completed, retro 2D arcade to deeply immersive VR simulations, with experimental and applied-research nearly always at the fore.
The annual games exhibition is run by the Dutch Game Garden (partnered with Casual Connect), an incubator funded by the city and province of Utrecht to create employment and economic growth by stimulating the games industry in the Netherlands. Utrecht has quickly become known as the games capital of the country as a result.
A total of 110 titles were submitted this year and 38 were accepted to exhibit at the Dutch games exhibition. The organizers in fact decided to widen the eligibility criteria this year to include international studios, which ended up representing one-third of the final lineup.
Here’s a taste of the featured games:
Deliver Us The Moon by Keoken Interactive is set in the not too distant future, where humanity has finally depleted the earth’s resources and a lone astronaut has to venture out on a do-or-die mission to save the day.
“The concept was invented by my brother, Paul, about a “Moon Man” living on the moon alone without any human life around him.” Koen Deetman, Co-Founder and Game Director at Keoken Interactive, told me. “We took big inspirations from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Duncan Jones’s Moon, and Nolan’s Interstellar.”
To achieve the kind of reality that could be coupled with fun gameplay elements, the team had to take a closer at the physics involved as well as interview real-world Astronauts to create an environment that included the right kind of realism that could be coupled with fun gameplay elements. They raised 100K euros on Kickstarter back in February and are in serious talks with Triple-A publishers.
Next up is Herald by Wispfire, a choice-driven adventure game about 19th-century colonialism. As a player, you step into the shoes of a character that has to navigate the seas while preserving the peace, making difficult choices all the way as the crew voyage out into an unfolding mystery and drama.
Most of the gameplay takes place on-board a ship, which was fashioned by research, like visiting a multitude of old museum ships from the 18th and 19th century, like the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, the SS Great Brittain in Bristol, de Stad Amsterdam in Amsterdam and De Buffel in Hellevoetsluis. They were all photographed extensively in order to re-create the look and feel of a 19th century trading ship.
“We want to tell a story about a topic and inspire people to think about the world in a different way.” Roy van der Schilden, Co-founder, Writer, and Business Director at Wispfire, told me. “The aim is to create empathy and increase understanding of the sometimes complex structures that underline our world.”
Active Cues by Tovertafel, on the other hand, is bringing games to an entirely different and niche audience: the elderly. It is an entire platform that includes its own device, geared up with a projector, sensors, and a variety of specially made computer hardware. Its growing library of games is developed and designed to activate and empower those beset by severe states of dementia.
Each game is projected from above a tabletop and is playable through simple hand gestures that make the experience fun and social. The studio is in fact currently the fastest growing scale-up at the Dutch Game Garden.
“It still gives me shivers when I see an old person playing with our Tovertafel and seeing them almost transforming.” Sjoerd Wennekes, Strategist and Evangelist at Active Cues for Tovertafel, told me. “From a silent person just sitting in a chair with a vague look in their eyes, to an enthusiastic laughing actively playing person. It’s just great to see that games can do so much more than only entertainment. When designed properly they can help people!”
Unexplored by Ludomotion is a funny but dangerous dungeon crawler, featuring real-time gameplay and brand new dungeon generation technology that churns out procedurally generated content. They’ve raised 50K euros from a cultural game fund to develop the ambitious RPG, which is now available in Early Access on Steam.
“Games that generate their own levels have been a long standing interest of mine.” Joris Dormans, the Lead Designer at Ludomotion and a lecturer at the humanities department at Leiden University, told me.
Dorman is active in the international content generation research community and has put into play applied-research techniques developed for linguistics and computer science including formal transformational grammar, language engineering, design pattern research, and model-driven engineering, into the fundamental game design.
Amir-Esmaeil Bozorgzadeh is the co-founder at Virtuleap, a sandbox for creative developers to showcase their VR concepts to the world. He is the European Partner at Edoramedia, a games publisher and digital agency with its headquarters in Dubai.
This is Part 1 in a series on the convergence of the games and casino industries and how non-casino game developers can get involved in emerging areas of the casino industry. This article focuses on mobile gaming. Part 2 focuses on skill-based games. Part 3 covers esports and virtual reality.
The casino industry is undergoing a bit of a renaissance. With demographics in casino patrons rapidly changing, casinos are looking at ways to engage with younger audiences through the things they love as well as keep older patrons engaged even away from their properties. As a result the industry is starting to see more innovation than it has in years.
With major players in the region, Tel Aviv is a perfect hub for those interested in social casino gaming and the emergence of skill-based gaming in casinos around the world. Casual Connect understands the importance of these areas to developers and will be unraveling them at their upcoming show in November.
View from the Top
Elad Kushnir, SVP Business Development Playtika, will open the social casino track by giving an overview of the current state of the social casino market. Later on, Playtika’s General Manager Caesars Casino Boaz Levin will dive into how to run a real-time, always-on social casino business.
Playtika executives will also be teaming up with other experts to offer deep insights. Playtika Director of Business Development Adi Hanin will discuss the hottest and latest social casino trends with Huuuge Games CEO Anton Gauffin while Playtika Marketing Director Jeet Niyogi will take part in a DAU-UP panel with representatives from Google and Murka on early adoption and marketing innovations.
Acquisitions & Asia
With Playtika being recently acquired by Chinese firm Giant Interactive and other Asian acquisition deals taking place across the games industry, there is no better time to discuss mergers, acquisitions and Asia.
Eilers & Krejcik Gaming’s Adam Krejcik will discuss transformative M&A deals in the social casino sector. Later, Adam will join GSN Games’ Raf Keustermans and Tangelo Games’ Vicenc Marti to discuss the process of acquisition – from what companies are looking for in a potential acquisition to what things will be like once the dust settles.
On the Asian front, Playstudios’ John B. Lin will discuss what social casino aspects translate well from Western to Eastern markets, what needs to be adapted, and what needs to be reworked from the ground up. Afterward, Old Man Productions Consultant Guy Hasson will dive into social slots and provide detailed information on how to transform western slots into a product fit for Asian consumption.
Design in Social Slots, Poker
Diving deeper into social slots with another lecture, Guy will focus on how to use your app’s economy to keep players happy. Rocket Games’ Niko Vuori will dig into what social slots are and what opportunities might exist by targeting niches such as the classic slots player.
Super Lucky Casino’s Nick Talarico will explore how social slots developers can mimic casino environments when growing their apps and Murka’s Anton Krasnyy will detail how to innovate on poker to create a game catered to Millennials. Reel Ads Founder Mark Beck will discuss how to design, build and scale apps – as well as take a look at monetization, user acquisition and user retention.
VIP & UA
Exploring user acquisition further, Product Madness’ Patrick Witham will cover how to maintain a profitable UA strategy. Later, in a panel, executives from FlowPlay and Wizits will discuss how to use strategies for niche products to overcome challenges in the social casino market.
In a separate panel, experts from Zynga, PlayStudios, Super Lucky Casino, AppThis and Scopely will discuss how to take care of and retain VIP players in the Internet Age and on mobile devices while building loyalty to your brand.
Casinos & Devs
Casinos are beginning to put skill-based games, VR attractions and esports events inside their walls. At the same time, more and more operators are beginning to eye mobile apps and social casino game development. It’s the perfect time for developers to make the crossover from the games industry to the casino industry, but that is easier said than done.
Experts from Scientific Games, GAN, Ruby Seven Studios, San Manuel Digital, Imperus and iGaming Capital will discuss where social casino and brick-and-mortar is converging in a jam-packed panel. In a standalone lecture, Gamblit Gaming’s Darion Lowenstein will discuss what it takes to gamblify a game and how developers can get their games onto casino floors.
All in all, experts from 10 of the top 15 social casino companies will share their insights with Casual Connect attendees during the conference November 1-3 in Tel Aviv – in addition to innovative independent developers who are carving out their own spaces in the casino and social gaming industries.
In addition to the unparalleled educational content Casual Connect will be providing, attendees will also get the opportunity to take part in great networking opportunities – from multiple parties, a tour of Jerusalem, and the event’s online Pitch & Match system.
We want to congratulate the winner of the first GTP Indie Cup: The Uncertain. We were thrilled to be able to work with the guys from ComonGames make their dream come true. It was one of outstanding projects among other applied games. Here’s how we made the GTP Indie Cup happen and chose our winner.
Making the Decision
While there have been a few small game events in Ukraine, there have been a few bigger or significant events that will attract the indie game developers and studios who operate in the region. There are lots of developers and studios based here, many of whom are not aware of one another, simply because they have no functioning, thriving community like the ones many other areas of the world have. Particularly, there is no way for small developers to get in touc with big studios and publishers. This is why we decided to start our first GTP Indie Cup this spring.
We were surprised, when director of Indie Prize scholarship Yuliya Moshkaryova gave us a partnership opportunity with Indie Prize at Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2016. Getting that partnership was pure magic and it went a long way to making sure we could make this idea a reality.
Want to Make Your Game Stand Out in the App Store? Try Utilizing These New Technologies and Tools
By Bob Heubel
As app stores become inundated with new games every day, developers need to find innovative and creative ways to create a unique gaming experience and make their mobile game standout. Audio creation and editing tools have always been an integral part of the game design process but aside from sound, what other technologies and tools should developers take into consideration?
Eva Cordoba! IS like… ABOUT TO HAPPEN, and you shouldn’t miss it!
Eva Cordoba will be happening on September 17 in Cordoba Argentina and it’s the biggest game industry event of the region! Isn’t that beautiful?
what is Eva Cordoba?
Eva Cordoba unites game developers from all over Argentina to showcase their games, attend lectures from local and international speakers, assist to meaningful workshops and talk with publishers from all over the world.
At Casual Connect USA 2016, Unity Technologies CMO Clive Downie spoke about his predictions for the VR and AR market, the role mobile will play in widespread adoption, and the new not-yet-developed rules for VR and AR creation. He described that we are at a “once in a generation moment” where he reassured pioneers that these new platforms, like electricity and the internet before them, would have “supremely powerful outcomes on humanity.” Downie sees great potential for VR and AR as a means to make life “richer” and time more valuable, transporting you instantly to other locations and unlocking access to education, science, design, healthcare and more. He went on to explain how mobile advancements, like Google Daydream, Facebook’s 360 video and Samsung Gear are all critical components that will drive main consumer use of VR and AR over the next few years.
Clive joined Unity last year as Chief Marketing Officer, where he oversees global strategies and tactics in customer marketing, product marketing and ecommerce.
Before joining Unity, Clive served as COO for Zynga where he successfully transitioned the company’s revenue and audience to mobile, and also held the role of CEO of DeNA West, the company’s American and European division.
Unity is far and away the largest game development platform, with over 5.5M registered developers ranging from AAA including Google, Square Enix and EA to indies including Playdead and Owlchemy Labs. In Q2, Unity games saw more than 4.4B installs across more than 1.7B unique devices worldwide. More recently, Unity’s also seen a surge in development for VR and AR, serving as the software behind such marquee experiences as The VOID’s Ghostbusters: Dimensions, Niantic’s Pokemon Go, Google’s Tilt Brush and many more.