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Millions of players, playing for free – can they be monetized? Innovate Gaming asks how big can the cake get, and who will be eating it…
Casino is the current buzzword in Social Gaming as developers bring fresh, dynamic content to the social environment, mainly Facebook. Statistics recently collated by research firm Kontagent show casino games account for 13 percent of all play on Facebook with revenue at least 40 percent higher than typical social games.
Facebook had more than 845 million monthly active users by the end of 2011 and approximately half play games. As the social network does not permit real-money wagering, gaming operators are expressing concern over paths to monetisation before jumping into the emergent sector.
Only 2-6 percent of users that participate in games pay to play and average spend per user is around the 25¢ mark. But a huge reach means the numbers add up and the social gaming market is already worth almost a fifth of the total online gaming market. Gambling research firm H2 Capital estimates online gaming and social gaming will be worth $35.8 billion and $6.2 billion in 2012, respectively.
Games such as IGT’s DoubleDown Casino and Slotomania are storming Facebook app ratings and are giving reason for gaming operators to keep a close eye on the sector. Casino Games have now surpassed Farm Games as the top performing games on the social network. Of the top ten grossing iPhone apps in the US, three are currently Slotomania, Zynga Poker and Texas Poker.
Social gaming is a by-product of the social network generation, piggybacking on the success of platforms such as Facebook, the latest craze spanning the globe. And the Facebook generation is not looking to diminish any time soon. The phenomenon has caught the eye of Wall Street analysts and its initial public offering last month valued the company at approximately $104 billion.
With a new found success in the casino genre, social gaming companies such as Zynga look to take a hand in online gaming with a regulated US market imminent. Competition will intensify, but open a new world of innovation in the gaming industry. The social sector is not proving a hindrance and instead is being used to complement land-based, online and mobile gaming.
Connecting existing offline and online casino games with Facebook gives instant access to a huge database of gamers and with far superior information. As users spend hours building up their profiles with likes and dislikes, their information is immediately dropped into each database of every game or app they join. This means more accurate feedback and targeted offerings.
Online casinos have spent years building large audiences with paths to quick and sustained monetisation on a per player basis. Social gaming has the capacity to reach a whole new audience and demographic, organically. Online and social casino games give the competencies for each to benefit the other in significant ways.
Integrating features over a huge social network, such as high scores and progressive jackpots, opens a wealth of innovative possibilities as the casino genre continues to make a significant impact in the social gaming space.
“Social casino gaming is a hot space right now and everyone is looking to get in on the action,” commented Jeff Tseng, CEO of Kontagent, at the GiGse 2012 online gaming summit in San Francisco, “Land-based and online casino operators know how to build addictive casino games, but that expertise does not completely translate into how to build a successful casino game on Facebook and other social platforms…
…And, social game developers who have built games in other genres don’t necessarily understand the best practices for casino games, which have different mechanics and benchmarks for monetisation than other game categories.”