I recently attended the Casino Gaming Summit in Las Vegas. At this time, social casino gaming is a $4 billion a year business that is very much in its infancy. It is so new, that it’s just been over the past 18 months we have begun to research and study it so we can be well prepared to assist and advise our gaming clients on how to take full advantage of this new phenomenon.
Social gaming and social casino gaming
Social gaming, of course, is games like Candy Crush Saga, Farmville and Words with Friends. These games are primarily accessed online through Facebook or other social media sites or are downloaded directly and played against other online players.
Social casino gaming is the same basic thing, except you are playing traditional casino games like slot machines, poker and blackjack online for virtual points and no chance to win jackpots. There is no real money betting in social casino gaming and instead people play for chips, gems or points of some type. Revenues come into play when a player decides they would like to purchase more gems to play longer or at a higher level.
And in social gaming – which has the longest record of trackable data- they are purchasing at an amazing level. In fact, Eilers Research reported at the Casino Gaming Summit that Candy Crush Saga generated $4.4m per day in CY13.
Casinos are making a move
For traditional casinos in America, the move to online gaming (actually gambling legally online with real money and chances of winning a jackpot) is a hotly debated issue. As of June 2014 online gambling is only legal in New Jersey, but many believe, and are positioning themselves for it to become a reality in the not too distant future. One way to prepare players is to roll out the enticing social casino games.
The big groups, like MGM Resorts for example, have already added an extensive social casino gaming product to their mix. Their My Vegas online experience is used heavily as a marketing tool by rewarding players with a show, lodging or other discounts and comps that players must redeem in the actual casino.
More than just a game for casino marketers
Social games and social casino games gather and provide a wealth of data on players’ habits, demographics, geographics and preferences that can be used for traditional and online marketing efforts. A good social casino gaming product also helps with a couple of standard everyday marketing efforts: player retention and new player acquisition.The last thing a casino wants is for one of their good players to fall in love with their competitor’s online casino because it gives them a perfect opportunity to capture them as a customer.
KK BOLD engaged in social gaming conversation
Because of our extensive experience in Indian gaming, we were recently retained by Greentube to help launch their b2b Greentube Pro social casino gaming product. Greentube will be competing with several other companies to provide a private label social casino gaming product with a focus on Indian casinos and standalone properties that don’t have the resources to buy and manage their own online gaming systems. And, because whatever happens in the Vegas casino industry does eventually happen everywhere else, relationships and products will soon be making their way to Indian casinos across the country. In fact, some of the larger ones already have a social casino gaming product in place.
How to move forward
As with everything new, there will be winners and there will be losers. For casinos, the difference between winning and losing won’t necessarily be about who is first or who is largest. It will be research, commitment, utilization and marketing that make the difference:
Research: Invest the time to analyze the best fit for your operation from both a product and partner perspective.
Commitment: There will be a steep learning curve to begin and some bumps along the way. Making a long-term commitment to seeing it work will be important.
Utilization: Good social casino gaming systems can provide a tremendous wealth of information and options. It’s only worth something if you use it and its value is in how you use it.
Marketing: Social casino gaming offers two distinct strengths, one is marketing to your current player base with a benefits-based tone and incorporating your players club, and the other is using your social casino gaming product to market your property’s products and services.
This game is going to evolve rapidly. The time is now for casino operators, gaming managers or marketers to assign someone to stay out in front of the fast-moving developments.
LaRoy Kingsley is the President of KK BOLD and took a break from playing his favorite social casino games to write this article.