The Gamification of Online Casinos

Casino games are undergoing a change that is transforming the experience for players. The gamification of online casinos has led to a new type of site where it isn’t solely about winning money. Many casinos and the games in them now have a video-game-like feel to them.

As this industry is constantly evolving, it is an issue that will change from time to time. However, if we look at the subject of gamification at this specific point in time, we can see that it has already had a big impact on how we play casino games online.

Best Gamification Casinos

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Play'n GO

When it comes to mobile, Play’n GO reign supreme. Their catalog includes slots, virtual table games, and bingo with stunning graphics and innovative features designed to be enjoyed on any device. 2020 has been the year of content for the studio that has been releasing a new game every week.

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Microgaming

As one of the longest-standing developers, Microgaming have their games featured in some of the biggest and most successful online casinos. Most well-known for the jackpot series Mega Moolah, this studio boasts a huge collection of slots, as well as a carefully curated catalog of classic card and table games.

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Playtech gambling software supplier

One could argue that the way we play today is largely due to the powerhouse that is Playtech. The studio has always brought innovation to the forefront, designing unique mobile and Omni-channel solutions and releasing hundreds of slots and virtual table games in addition to the biggest live casino offering globally.

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NetEnt

This developer is mostly praised for the exquisite slots that set the benchmark for graphics and animations, but there's much more to them. NetEnt pride themselves on launching the first live casino developed exclusively for mobile and offer some of the highest betting limits in live roulette and blackjack.

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Realtime Gaming casino software provider

Most US-friendly casinos are backed up by Realtime Gaming. The developer has released a number of successful slots, progressives, table and card games, and specialty games. Following a licensing deal, Realtime Gaming casinos now also offer live lobbies with exciting roulette, baccarat, and blackjack options.

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  • Casumo: Casumo offers a gamified casino adventure with its level-up take on loyalty rewards. Players receive points for every wager they make at the casino, thus filling up their progress bar and progress to treats such as free spins, bonus money, and deposit bonuses.
  • PlayOJO: PlayOJO does things differently with its no-wagering welcome bonus and the Kickers program that has new treats hand-picked for players every day. Its A-Listers exclusive club doesn’t award points but instead increases the RTP percentage for each next level.
  • CasiTabi: The moment players sign up with CasiTabi, they enter the gamified CasiTabi adventure. After selecting their avatar and kingdom, players get treasure bags and rubies as loot while they clear the CasiTabi map, defeating a final boss at the end of each kingdom level.

Casinos Introducing the Thrill of Achievement

A big difference before now was that videos games offered far more possibilities of advancing and feeling the thrill of achieving something. Whether it is unlocking a new level, meeting a tougher villain or gaining a more powerful weapon, there is usually always something to aim for on a video game.

On the other hand, casino games were simply a case of wagering on the same thing over and over again. It is the casinos themselves who have largely spotted what was missing and added it. For example, many of them now offer gaming tournaments with real rewards for the winners.

Players can also level up as they play. This often means earning rewards such as experiences or unlocking new levels. This can translate to bonus points or extra cash, as well as adding an extra degree of excitement to the site.

Most Popular Gamification Features:

Mission-Based Accomplishments

One of the most straightforward gamification tools that is extremely popular with online casinos, “missions” are versatile and encompass the whole range of games offered at casino sites – from sending players on a quest to unlock free spins to tasking them with getting a blackjack in a certain amount of time.

These achievement-driven missions allow casinos to establish new premises and engage players by awarding points or other treats and sending them on new adventures in magical kingdoms, exotic lands, or even outer space. As immersive as these accomplishment-focused exploits are, they have been deemed potentially addictive by the UKGC, which is the reason why gamification casinos are denied UK licenses by the commission. 

Leaderboards

There’s hardly an online casino nowadays that doesn’t host at least one tournament where players are pitted against each other as they climb the leaderboard by playing slots or table and card games. Offering people who play games like blackjack or poker where they face off the dealer or other players the chance to show skill and rank higher in a leaderboard is a no-brainer.

So, it’s not a surprise to see many casinos hosting blackjack or poker tournaments where they can demonstrate skill and talent. However, games based on pure chance like slots have become prevalent, and casinos are more likely to organize competitions based on them, with the players to make the most winnings during the tournament scoring higher in the leaderboards. 

Loyalty Rewards

The concept of loyalty rewards is nothing new in today’s society. In fact, it’s the gamification tool that most industries use – from your local coffee shop to airlines, being a return customer comes with certain perks. So why shouldn’t online casino employ this method, too? After all, land-based casinos are known for their comp points and loyalty programs that, based on your activity, will get you anything from complimentary drinks to free access to exclusive hotel facilities.

Online casinos translate this to treats like customized bonuses, cashbacks, free spins. Most casinos’ loyalty clubs are tier-based, offering extra perks such as personal account manager or better conversion rates for comp points when a new tier is unlocked. 

Social Media

“Don’t forget to like and subscribe!” Another tool used widely by all kinds of businesses is social media. In recent years, this has become the most popular way for companies to establish a connection with their customers, and while some are admittedly cringey in their attempts to look relatable, others have managed to accrue impressive followings and expand their customer base.

Online casinos are, of course, tapping into the potential of social media, too, by connecting with players on different social networks. Casinos will often host competitions or jackpots, giving away rewards on their social media or incentivize players by awarding them bonuses for following, liking, or sharing posts.

How Casino Games and Video Games Are Merging

According to the European Mobile Gaming Market research, there are an estimated 2.5 billion gamers in the world. It makes sense for casinos to encourage these people to find what they are looking for in the games that they offer.

In the past, there was a clear difference between casino games and video games. In the early days of online casinos, they were largely filled with classic table games such as roulette and blackjack. These games were set up in a simple style that didn’t reflect the changes taking place in the fast-moving gaming industry.

Meanwhile, video games were becoming ever slicker and more realistic. There was little common ground between these different ways of playing, and it was difficult to imagine that many people would be big fans of both types of game. The change since then has largely been down to the incredible growth in slots games. Software developers have discovered that players love the excitement of action-packed games with numerous features and non-stop gameplay.

New slots titles are regularly released with features such as free spins, bonus games and other interesting elements. They also tend to now come with bright, bold graphics and great sound effects. Some even have video clips that enhance the overall presentation. Some of the most popular gamification features and tools used by developers include:

gamification
  • Visual Rewards
  • Progression Systems or Leveling up
  • Challenges
  • Customized Mascots
  • Mini (or Side) Games
  • Stories and Special Effects

All of this means that video slots are probably now closer to video games than to traditional casino games. Take a look at the trailer for the recent release Wild Pixies from Pragmatic Play or Rise of Maya from NetEnt.

Ricky and Morty Megaways from Blueprint Gaming and Nero’s Fortune from Quickspin are other good examples of how slots have evolved to date. These games introduce an immersive gaming world with interesting characters and gameplay that hooks in players from the start.

Some individual slots games have started to introduce this concept too. The Castle Builder slot from Rabcat Gaming lets you move up a level after you have completed the construction of a new castle. Aliens from NetEnt was possibly the first multi-level slot game, as it progresses through three levels with varying bonuses to be claimed on each of them.

Some examples of developer bridging the gap between slots and video games:

Competitive System Gambling Apps

Another way that this market has changed is with the growing level of demand for skill-based games. Rather than relying purely on good luck, players now look for ways to influence the outcome using their skill or judgment.

This has led to games now offering bonus rounds where players need to carry out certain actions rather than simply waiting to see what happens next. It has proved to be particularly popular with younger players who are used to using their skill to achieve good results.

The feeling of being in control and of being able to beat the game leads to an increased level of satisfaction for players. However, players who are happy, depending upon the luck of the draw or the roll of the dice, can still choose to play games that are purely luck-based.

There are also games that let the player choose their level of risk and potential return. A good example is the Innocence or Temptation slot from Playtech. This lets you choose how volatile the game is by sliding the control towards the Angel or the Devil.

competitive app

A Changing Target Audience

There is no denying that the audience for online casinos is different from what it was just a few years ago. It is no longer the case that they only attract experienced gamblers looking to recreate the land-based casino experience at home.

Scientific Games carried out a survey of 22,000 people in the US and Europe in 2019. They discovered a wide range of 15 reasons that were given for playing online games. These included issues such as challenge, improvement of result and competitive results. Not all of these elements were covered on casino sites before gamification was introduced.

The State of Online Gaming 2019 report also found that younger people now spend more time gaming. Those between 26 and 35 had the highest score, with 11.5% of them recording more than 20 hours a week. These are people who perhaps might never have felt attracted to the older style of casino titles that didn’t meet their needs.

Age Less then 1 hours a week 1 - 2 hours a week 2 - 4 hours a week 4 - 7 hours a week 7 - 12 hours a week 12 - 20 hours a week More then 20 hours a week Average hours each week
18 - 25 9.4% 15.7% 19.2% 20.2% 12.6% 12.4% 10.5% 7.78
26 - 35 10.1% 13.4% 18.2% 17.6% 17.0% 12.3% 11.5% 8.21
36 - 45 12.1% 15.3% 16.7% 17.9% 16.1% 11.4% 10.6% 7.76
46 - 60 19.4% 18.2% 15.2% 17.1% 13.8% 9.0% 7.2% 6.32
Over 60 21.5% 23.7% 15.5% 14.2% 11.1% 7.2% 6.8% 5.63
All 14.9% 17.1% 16.8% 17.3% 14.4% 10.4% 9.2% 7.11
Gamers age 26 - 35 spend the most time playing, at 8,21 hours a week. Those over 60 spend the least at 5,63 hours playing.

Players are also more tech-savvy than ever before. They no longer want a simple, very basic game of roulette or retro slots games with old-fashioned graphics. Gamers are used to seeing incredible graphics and hearing realistic sound effects.

Software developers have had to move with the times and cater to this new market of young, tech-savvy players who know exactly what they want from their gaming. Thankfully, that is exactly what they have done.

Level-up system

Payouts

Many online casinos have introduced levels for their players with milestone rewards for unlocking a new level and more perks such as increased RTPs, faster payouts, or higher rates for comp points.

Experience points

Payouts

Points are awarded for making bets, and some games may bring more points than others. The collected points can be exchanged for cash or used for purchases in the casino’s shop.

Avatars /Toons

Payouts

Gamified casinos will make user experience resemble a video game in a number of ways, one being the use of avatars or toons that allow players to express their identity and feel seen in the casino community.

Casino currency and shops

Payouts

Some casinos may give away cash prizes in their own currency, which players can collect similarly to collecting points and then use to purchase merchandise at the casino’s shop or different promotional offers. 

Map progression

Payouts

The gamified adventure at sites like Casumo or CasiTabi takes players on a journey through different realms. In a similar fashion to video games, each kingdom or land on the map features things like final bosses and loot.

RPG slots

Payouts

RPG slots display many of the characteristics of normal slots, though, while they may feature payline and other mechanics, they are based on storyline and level progression systems that players complete as they spin the reels.

VR

Payouts

VR casino games didn’t make the splash they were expected to, but game developers still haven’t abandoned the idea. Players who have the equipment can find a number of VR casino games to fully immerse themselves in the action.

Casino streaming

Payouts

Nowadays, there are plenty of streamers who like to share their wins and losses with an audience, so casino streaming on Twitch and other platforms is a thing, and the scene is booming.

Benefits of Casino Gamification for Players

As we have seen, playing casino games isn’t just about trying to win money. While this remains something that tempts people to start playing, there need to be more benefits for players to keep them on the site.

This is why online casinos now offer so many other things. From maps that are waiting to be explored and treasures to be unlocked to higher levels of VIP rewards, they feel closer to video gaming than to traditional casinos.

Loyalty schemes encourage regular players to keep on using the site. By making these schemes fun and interactive, they become more enjoyable. For example, some casinos let users change their character or avatar as they move up a level.

Please, note that depending on the gambling regulation in your jurisdiction, some gamification tools offered by casino might not be available. For example, the UKGC no longer licenses casinos that employ certain video game features to incentivize gambling. Therefore, the best gamification casinos for UK players can no longer offer the same features they once did. This includes adventures/missions, virtual currencies, and RPG slots, to name a few.

Is Gamification the Future of Online Casinos?

Gamification is here to stay. Casino operators and games developers have successfully discovered how to make their games more appealing to the new breed of player.

casino gamification

The secret for the future of online casinos appears to lie in finding a way to combine the traditional thrill of winning money with the excitement and appeal of modern video gaming. To date, it is something that they have done well.

The big question is how much further they can gamify their sites without it affecting the classic casino aspect. It is a balancing act, as they want to attract younger, more technologically friendly players without running the risk of turning away more traditional casino fans.

It seems likely that we see different types of casinos in the future. Some will be highly gamified and will look at attracting those players who crave the thrill of unlocking achievements as highly as the financial reward of winning bets.

The other kind will look to offer more of a “purist” approach based on the original casino experience. If this happens, then it will certainly be interesting to see which sort of casino is more popular over time.