Long gone are the days when the online casino experience meant huddling around a desktop computer and spinning your favourite slots.
And while that still goes on, the eye-watering growth in the industry comes from mobile casino gaming. Like all aspects of entertainment today, the modern consumer wants to have access whenever and wherever they like, 24 hours a day.
But the challenge for online casinos is delivering a user experience as good, and possibly even better, than the old fashioned desktop.
The big online casinos are vying to make their mobile platforms the best. In fact, according to online casino news resource, Casinopedia, LeoVegas, one of the market’s big boys, makes no secret of its mission to be number one in mobile gaming.
The ground is shifting, ‘mobile first’ is the mantra, and online casinos are relying on new innovations to deliver the on-the-go experience their customers demand.
Delivering the full casino experience
Sports betting is now synonymous with mobile, but the challenge of promoting betting odds to punters on a phone or tablet was always going to be a simpler transition.
But pulling off an uncluttered online casino on a mobile, yet offering all the functionality and options of the full version is quite another matter. Think of the sheer range of games a casino has to offer, as well as that expectation of a sense of fun or entertainment in the experience.
The challenge has been to avoid a sub-par, unnatural mobile feel, and to give the user the trust that the site offers everything the desktop version has.
The casino’s own downloadable apps have been another way around this problem. They contain all the features of the site, but with a streamlined and more navigable user experience. There is also better opportunity for notifications, improving the communication process with players and hopefully getting them to come back for more.
Innovations in games
Slot games have come a long way since the good old pub fruit machines. Graphically these games are as sharp and as impressive as some of the best video games, and the rapid advances in handheld device technology has allowed for vastly improved visuals.
Practically, screen size variation affects the whole process of graphic rendering and the resulting player experience. As a result, the need for optimising the player experience revolves around the text and image sizes appropriate to emerging mobile interfaces. Some of these user interfaces are also adapting to high definition screens, allowing the game software to take full advantage of the power of the new generations of smartphones and tablets.
Live dealer games, including classic casino fare like blackjack and roulette, are also being hosted with the mobile player in mind. This popular set up, where a real dealer interacts with the player via a live-stream, is also seeing its own forms of innovation, such as sharper visuals and a smoother playing experience.
Some games coming to market now even let the user play in portrait mode on their phone or tablet, and more of these are expected in the near future.
Why there’s a need for speed
User experience has undergone intense scrutiny in recent Google algorithm updates and the tech giant regularly reports that user experience is indeed driving the mobile first approach. Modern website users now expect a page to load in less than 19 seconds on a mobile irrespective of network and that anything beyond this sees them bounce off the website and move on.
Superfast site loading times are therefore vital for these online casino operators. Among other things mobile network improvements have helped contribute to mobile growth too.
The larger casinos like Leo Vegas are actively advertising on television about the fastest experiences available online today.. This means investment in faster cloud server environments, network connections and other optimal delivery systems have been given major priority in their business development strategy. Other casinos will not want to be left behind.
Mobile providers like Vodafone are advertising best connectivity in the UK and EE is promoting its 4G+ network, which is said to be like having fibre broadband on your mobile.
The stats don’t lie. Mobile is a key area for growth in online casinos, and the way to unlock that is through better technology and innovations to maximise the user experience.
In fact, it seems that with the double digit growth in many mobile casino metrics over the the past few years, there almost appears to be no limit in the demand for casino gaming on the go. The only thing that is going to hold it back is the tech. In the battle for new ground in online casinos, it is only innovation which stands in the way.
Luke Page is the content editor for Casinopedia