Mobile devices enable us to manage our hectic schedules and make life-changing decisions at the touch of a button – from getting a cab for next to nothing to balancing your finances, selling your car in seconds and deciding who to date in a single swipe. More and more of what we do takes place on mobile; we take them wherever we go, check them 1500 times a week on average and use them more often than we ever have done before.
Popularity, ease of use and targeted marketing of sleek, increasingly powerful devices, is driving this global phenomenon, but so are the companies behind the everyday apps that we take for granted.
Banking services, comparison sites, and, of course, gaming brands, to name a few, now all look to build their products in a mobile-first environment. This immediately makes the experience smoother and easier for new users to get started and for a new generation of consumers and players – who have only ever known life with a mobile device – to register, deposit, play and, the Holy Grail for all brands, remain loyal customers.
The UK Gambling Commission estimates that nearly 40 per cent of total remote Gross Gaming Yield (GGY) is generated through operators’ mobile channels, with this forecast to exceed 50 per cent by 2020. But for many successful brands this figure is as high as 80 per cent, particularly those mobile-first new entrants that appeal to a new generation of customer and player.
The mobile gambling category will continue to grow significantly, in part due to the emergence of newly regulated and regulating markets, the ubiquity of 4G networks and the increase in Wi-Fi access, but also the push for more mobile-enabled content, attracting new groups of consumers, the growth of product personalisation, and the drive for the ultimate mobile gaming experience.
Crucially, mobile players also spend more time playing online than traditional browser-based players and convert far quicker into paying customers ensuring that if you intelligently design and developer mobile gaming content and offer the right proposition, then recurring and future revenues are almost guaranteed.
Designing the ultimate mobile-first content
The UK is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mobile gaming. New markets in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia are all driving demand for new mobile-first content.
While focusing on different markets and localising content is a core fundamental, it is crucial to focus on the mobile audience that we need to focus on, and specifically the new ‘Netflix generation’ of players who the industry must attract to ensure mobile growth continues to accelerate.
As with desktop, games on mobile must deliver the best visuals and sounds benchmarked against the latest console and social titles, while ensuring the game size remains reasonable to provide fast-loading for players keen to get in on the action. Furthermore, completing the package with engaging ‘gamified’ rewards and incentives helps maintain session times and encourage loyalty.
Reinventing table games for the Netflix generation
We have learned a huge amount over the years on how to design and present games and this process is constantly evolving. One area that rapidly became clear was that mobile users did not enjoy being forced to change the orientation of their devices to landscape to play. Until recently slot games that had been ported from desktop often only worked in this setting. This was a similar story with table games but we have invested a great deal of research and development to rapidly become leaders in mobile portrait table game titles.
Our recent “player vs house” Texas Hold’em title, for example, is designed in portrait-first mode to give players what they want and expect: superior gameplay while holding the phone in its natural orientation.
For table games such as roulette, blackjack, or Texas Hold’em to compete with the hundreds of other apps on people’s phones, as well as remain relevant to a new audience of younger players who may not have experienced them, game developers must offer a world-class mobile user experience.
While slots developers have led from the front when it comes to innovation – growing revenues and offering an increasingly immersive experience – this has not been the case with table games.
Most existing table games from stalwarts and emerging game development companies have failed to recreate the thrill players enjoy on the casino floor. The mobile versions of these games have, in most instances, clearly been ported from desktop with little concern for how the smaller screen real estate impacts the user interface.
For table games to recapture the imagination of players in the mobile age, we need to rethink how we deliver them to players, beginning at the development stage.
Therefore, while leading from the front in mobile portrait design, we have also had to consider more general aspects of mobile gameplay. This included designing a user interface that makes it easy for players to enjoy games from an ergonomic perspective, with the action buttons easily within reach while playing one-handed while commuting home from work.
These small touches all add up to the user experience mobile players now demand.
Table games not only compete with slots and sportsbook for customers’ eyeball hours. We must offer an experience that is as compelling as social gaming, Facebook, Netflix and all the countless other entertainment options available on a phone, and that is only achievable by putting mobile at the forefront of the design process.
We are also excited about applying this approach to design to our upcoming range of mobile-portrait slots, with first due for release just prior to Sigma 2018.
Matthew Rochman has been Head of OneTouch since 2016, a leading producer and distributor of premium mobile games. With nearly two decades experience in the land-based and iGaming industry, he oversees the planning and execution of strategy, financials, contracts, certification, compliance and partnerships within the business. Prior to leading OneTouch Rochman worked in the legal and IT sectors.