Evolution Gaming recently announced a new range of mobile gaming for iPad solutions offering multi-channel opportunities for both online and land-based casino operators. As a result of this latest product introduction Evolution’s licensees’ players will be able to enjoy live-dealer casino games on their iPads not only in online Live Casinos but also as part of interactive Live Casino TV shows and in ‘intra-resort’ style deployments.
Evolution Mobile Live Roulette and Blackjack for iPad is already available, with Mobile Live Baccarat and other games following in 2013.
“Essentially this means that iPad users can now click or tap to play at their choice of live table in the same way that PC users can,” explains Helen Hedgeland, Head of London for Evolution. “It opens up Evolution’s proven, world-leading live tables (already used by more top-tier operators across Europe than any other provider’s) to the massive iPad user base. It extends the gaming floor, extends reach for operators and, potentially, extends business opportunity into new demographics too.”
Rank is already live with Evolution Mobile Live Roulette for iPad for two of its brands: Grosvenor Casino and Blue Square. Rank will also stream Evolution’s iPad solutions from their dedicated, branded Roulette and Blackjack tables – which Evolution host for them at its Riga studios. Other Evolution licensees are also planning to offer Mobile Live Roulette for iPad as part of their online Live Casinos. In this way the Live Roulette games launch directly in the browser when the player joins the live game from the Live Casino lobby on the licensee’s website. “At the same time a major worldwide betting brand has moved very quickly to select our Mobile Live Roulette for iPad solution as the basis for an Apple-approved App,” reveals Hedgeland.
For the iPad the whole user interface has been developed in HTML5.
Evolution is particularly proud of two key areas of this latest development: Firstly, the HTML5 development is optimised for iPad so it offers an entirely natural iPad user experience. For example, as the user physically moves their iPad screen from landscape to portrait their view of the live video feed adjusts accordingly.
Secondly, the company has maintained consistency in the user interface. Hedgeland explains: “The iPad experience replicates and enhances the gaming experience that players can enjoy when they play our Live Casino games on their PCs. Any player used to playing Evolution Live Casino games on PC will feel right at home when accessing the same games on the iPad.”
Delivering a live-dealer product to tablets is not without its challenges, as Hedgeland explains: “Obviously streaming is a key consideration to ensure that the video feed is not slowed down and the live action of the game is not compromised. As your readers will know, you can buy the iPad as Wi-Fi only or as Wi-Fi + Cellular so there will be many users connecting to games over Wi-Fi. That will be no different to them playing on a Windows laptop, say, connected to a home or hotel internet connection. At the same time we expect to see an increasing number of users wanting to connect over fast mobile data networks. 4G is now starting to take off in a big way. Before too long this should make it feasible for players to enjoy live games from virtually anywhere.”
Optimised live streaming is built in to every Evolution solution. For many years now the company has been able to optimise the video stream ‘on the fly’ based upon the player’s connection. Indeed it was technology such as this that helped convince many major operators that Evolution Live Casino should form part of their core offering – and that it could develop into a significant revenue stream.
“The other major consideration was ensuring both a natural iPad user experience and a consistent user experience across different devices and channels,” says Hedgeland. “We feel we have achieved this.”
“One could look at the screen size and say that it is limiting,” says Hedgeland when asked about the pros and cons of developing for the tablet format. “Then you could, quite literally, weigh up the positives – the slimness, the portability, the quality of image resolution, the desirability of the iPad as a personal entertainment and communication device… For us it most definitely opens the door to innovation. Already we have looked beyond players’ use of the iPad to access online Live Casino via a gaming operator’s website. As part of this mobile gaming for iPad development we are adapting the UI for use as the betting interface for Live Casino via TV.”
In Italy Lottomatica are already using Evolution’s live games feed as a centrepiece of their branded Live Casino TV programme. The show is broadcast live from TV studios in Italy, with the live games fed from Evolution’s Riga studios to a big screen in the Italian studio. There’s a regular team of presenters commenting on the live game action at the table. Occasionally, one of the presenters will appear alongside the live dealer at the table in Riga. Viewers, meanwhile, will be able to join in the live games and soon they’ll place bets on their iPads. It’s another key channel to market for operators and an opportunity to extend their audience.
Similarly, Evolution’s mobile gaming for iPad solutions can form part of a turnkey intra-resort Live Casino. For example, as legislation unfolds in the US, casino resorts will be able to hand out iPads to guests so that they can enjoy mobile live gaming. Using the iPad, guests will be able to join the live table games (streamed in real time from a live studio on the resort’s gaming floor) while in their hotel rooms, in the bar, by the pool, or virtually anywhere within the resort.
“During 2013 we will be seeing lots of offshoots of this mobile gaming for iPad development work,” says Hedgeland, “with Evolution mobile gaming solutions for iPhone and for the market-leading Android tablets.”
Evolution has made maximum use of the iPod’s capabilities where they are relevant to the enjoyment of video-streamed live dealer games. For example, players can swipe the screen to see Neighbour/Special Bets when playing Roulette. “We’ve made everything a fluid, natural, intuitive experience for iPad owners,” says Hedgeland. “I think users of any Apple product have high expectations – that’s why they buy into the brand. At Evolution, we’ve built our own reputation as the world’s leading provider of video-streamed live dealer gaming. Now we have tailored what was already a great product so that it can be enjoyed on the world’s favourite tablet.”
I ask Helen what else she thinks might be achievable on the format: “Our development team work with that question in mind every day, as do developers at Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and elsewhere. There’s real competition to come up with the next killer feature, but I wouldn’t like to speculate what that might be!”
I also ask what change in player profiles the tablet format brings: “We’re seeing a trend towards younger players,” explains Hedgeland. “There are new generations of players coming through that include a high proportion of so-called ‘über-connected’ individuals. For them it’s the most natural thing in the world to connect to all manner of entertainment and social channels from anywhere. They’ve moved a long way beyond the fixed-location, hard-wired PC.”
The last few years have seen a huge upsurge in mobile/tablet sports betting and Hedgeland feels it likely that Live Casino will see a similar increase. “Tablets will help fuel this as they allow extended and more convenient access and they promote multi-tasking. I fully expect that the developments we have discussed will all lead to extended player sessions and increased expenditure. Also, mobile and tablet gaming can be used as a tool to bring in new generations and new demographics to land-based casinos. At the same time, it can extend the gaming floor for the land-based casinos’ existing ‘land’ customers; it will make it easier for them to play at times when they are unable to visit the physical casino. If mobile/tablet gaming is introduced with these goals, as part of an integrated two-way strategy, it has the potential to revitalise the casino industry.”