Interactivity and the Future of Gambling: How Multiplayer Games are Reshaping the Gaming Space

We spoke with David Natroshvili, Managing Partner at Spribe, to hear his thoughts on how interactivity can impact the future of gambling.

Online interactions have come to dominate our work and leisure lives, changing our social behaviours, and the modern online gambling landscape has grown to reflect this.

That’s because player habits have changed too. The new breed of player values the experience and the fun of playing and interacting with other users probably more than the pure win/loss gambling aspect.

Today, more people than ever are playing social and multiplayer gambling games. This has become standard entertainment for a new generation, and Spribe believes multiplayer will only become more popular as the games we play come to be shaped by evolving technology.

Much has been written about millennials’ rejection of traditional gambling games, like slots, that were enjoyed by their parents and grandparents. While at the beginning of the 2010s, slots had acquired features like cinematic cutaways and explosive soundtracks, little had changed about their core dynamics in decades. They were ripe for innovation.

The younger generation rejected slots because of their one-dimensional simplicity and the lack of strategy involved. They were also ultimately a solitary experience.

Generation X was the first to grow up truly immersed in video games, but this was also essentially a solitary experience. Millennials and Generation Z, especially, have always known a world of heightened digital interconnectivity, where you can lose yourself in multiplayer games like World of Warcraft or face off against foes battle royale style games, collaborating with or competing against fellow netizens.

The experience is more than the game. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 55 per cent of frequent gamers say that video games help them stay connected with friends and family.

Of course, sociability within gambling games is not a completely new concept. Poker has always been as fundamentally about social interaction as it has been about strategy and mathematics.

The development in the late 1990s of peer-to-peer software that enabled poker fans worldwide to play and chat together online must go down as a watershed moment in the history of online gaming.

The online poker boom of the 2000s was a precursor to the rise of social gaming on platforms like Facebook. But social games took things a step further creating innovative engagement mechanisms and compulsion loops.

Next, it was the online gaming industry’s turn to borrow from social gaming – and video games – as it sought to future proof against Millennials and Generation Z.

This involved experimenting with new formats such as skill gaming, multiplayer slots tournaments and esports betting, as well mixing ideas together to form hybrid-style games.

One of the boldest and most successful examples of this are Evolution’s ‘Game Shows’, which marry traditional gambling games with elements from world-famous game shows and board games for an immersive and totally involving gaming experience.

At Spribe, our Aviator game is an example of how gambling games can be reimagined for a new audience.

Inspired by arcade games, this is a new social multiplayer game that invites players to place their bets as a plane arcs into the sky. A bet multiplier grows following the plane’s curve, and players must cash out before the plane flies away.

The game first became popular in crypto casinos because of its simplicity, which belies the excitement and engagement it generates. We have pioneered this type of game in traditional online casinos, and it underlines how the gambling industry must look to emerging trends and technologies if it is to retain the attention of Millennials and Generation Z.

We’ve already seen the way crypto and digital currencies have changed the gambling space, but we believe in the future the technology that underpins crypto, blockchain, will soon have its own part to play.

We’re only really scraping the surface with blockchain, which, because of its immutable nature and cryptographic features, can be used to prove the security and fairness of just about anything, including gambling games.

Virtual horse breeding is a fascinating new trend made possible by non-fungible tokens (NFTs), units of data stored on blockchain that can be used to certify the uniqueness or authenticity of a digital asset.

This allows participants to buy, breed and race digital horses for money via a platform called ZED, all of which is underpinned by secure blockchain technology.

Virtual reality (VR), another young technology, will be important too. We have already seen the first VR online casinos emerge over the past few years. Typically, these enable players to experience traditional gambling games in a virtual casino world. But the technology is developing. Soon, the medium will begin to redefine the dynamics of the games themselves.

Perhaps it could allow us to walk inside a slot machine, for example, or a video game to watch an esports match that we can bet on.

Social gaming could be one of the best-use cases for VR, as social interaction is something that VR does better than any other platform. VR can put you in places with other people and can deliver an emotional connection that’s different from any other medium.

These technologies are in their infancy, but as they grow and insert themselves more prominently into our lives, it’s clear they will reshape the online gambling industry in completely new ways.