Tech advances are making mobile gambling more like the real thing.
Lately we’ve been frustrated by the general lack of authenticity found in online casinos in Germany, the UK, US, etc. We love the convenience and low house edge offered by internet games. But for all of their advantages, iGaming just can’t replicate the real casino experience. You are sitting in front of a computer screen playing poker against other people in front of computer screens, or playing blackjack dealt by a random number generator (RNG). It just lacks the ambiance and personal contact of the traditional casino experience.
Last week we ran a humorous article on how to make the online gambling experience more authentic. It focused primarily on how to make your home feel more like a real casino: install a bar, hire a professional croupier, hire Wayne Newton to perform for an evening and so on.
We stand by all of those recommendations. However, you don’t need to go all out to make virtuality more like reality. Some recent tech innovations are making iGaming feel much more like the real thing. This piece will focus on the recent growth of 3D mobile casino gaming and its potential as a future market.
The mobile explosion
The mobile gaming sector popped up soon after online gambling hit in 1994. The first ever mobile game, Snake, launched in 1997. While not gambling related, it started a trend which was quickly seized upon by the emerging iGaming industry. The first mobile gambling games became available during the late 1990s and the market has grown exponentially since.
A report by Juniper Research found that in 2013 63 million people worldwide placed a bet, visited a casino or bought a lottery ticket via mobile device. They predict that this number will climb to 164 million by the end of 2018, a rise of over 260 percent in just five years. Over that period an increasing number of games available will be of the 3D variety.
• Juniper Research predicts that 164 people will use online gambling platforms by 2018
• 3D mobile games are becoming increasingly sophisticated and realistic; PKR 3D Online Poker is one of the most innovative mobile games to date
• Expect the mobile games to become more realistic, but don’t expect to substitute for the real thing anytime soon
Much has been written about the rise of internet gambling over the past two decades, especially since American gambling laws were revised in 2011 to allow states to create online casino markets. However, the increasing availability and sophistication of mobile devices is partially undercutting the online industry. Said the Juniper report:
“All advantages and drivers that favor the growth of fixed internet gambling also apply to mobile gambling…Moreover, the mobile platform has certain inherent advantages, such as convenience and larger potential market as compared to the fixed internet.”
The market has potential for almost unlimited growth. To illustrate this point consider the following statistics: In 2002 there were roughly 1 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide. Today that figure stands at 6.8 billion, almost one subscription per person on the planet.
The 3D phenomenon
Most mobile casino games retain the simple 2D format. However, new 3D games are being launched all the time. Many mobile casinos in the UK for example specialize in 3D slot games. Many of these games are advertised as having “hyper-realistic 3D graphics” and “state-of-the-art digital sound.” In most cases that is an exaggeration, but the experience is usually much more exciting than sitting at an “authentic” machine and pulling a lever while 2D pictures of fruit spin around on a screen.
But slots aren’t the only games blowing up mobile devices. 3D games ranging everywhere from roulette to blackjack to craps are available via mobile, and they keep getting better. PKR 3D mobile poker is a great example. The Android app launched last year and is touted as the first ever game of its kind.
Prior, most poker apps relied on 2D representations of cards and monolithic backgrounds. PKR’s ground breaker surprised many with nine fully 3D backgrounds. It unlocked the growing desire for more realistic games with 3D avatars.
This is undoubtedly the best feature of the game and may be the innovation that propels 3D mobile gaming forward. The avatar’s appearance and body language can be manipulated to fake out opponents and speak directly to other players. One of the biggest complaints about online casinos is that the crucial player-to-player interaction factor is missing; while this interaction is still filtered through a virtual platform, it has become much closer to the real thing.
Game changer or a passing fad?
3D mobile games are definitely something to get excited about. They are becoming more sophisticated by the day, having come a long way from the boxy 2D graphics of the late 1990s. We certainly enjoy playing them, and the gap in quality between mobile and fixed online is shrinking.
But our optimism comes with some reservations. As for now, “hyper-realistic” anything is an exaggeration. These games are an improvement over just a few short years ago, but they are not close to simulating the real thing. The only tech innovation we know of that has come close to succeeding on that front is live dealer online gaming, but that’s a different story completely.