There’s no shortage of advice for online casino operators and affiliates. This blog may be just a drop in the ocean, but in it I concentrated all of Systemato’s best insights from years of working closely with top internet casino brands.
The source of this post is a state of play report we wrote for a client in June 2017. With the added benefit of 10 months’ hindsight, I sifted through our original conclusions to eliminate the trends that never really got off (or turned out to be fads) and keep the ones that were worth sharing here.
We believe the following trends and opportunities are the most likely to inform content strategy among casino operators and affiliates in 2018 and beyond. Some of these ideas have already become ubiquitous, while others are on the cusp of spilling into the mainstream.
Minimal navigation and a lobby-first approach
This is the reality we live in. You can log in to any major casino online right now to see what I mean; the first screen that loads up is the lobby, which displays the top games in the familiar grid format. You’re one click away from testing any game for fun, but what really makes this design work is what you don’t see on the page.
In many cases, any navigation links are hidden away from sight; promotional offers, tournaments, support, everything is eclipsed by ONE. ENTICING. OFFER. That is the range of games available, and you’re introduced to it from the start.
This is a trend that has caught on rapidly among the newer casino websites and many i-gaming startups nowadays try to incorporate gamification elements in their platforms. The logic behind this is sound: there are specific reasons why players keep returning to certain titles in a casino lobby, so why not implement the same thing across the entire website?
Gamification finds its major proponents among educational websites, but the basic principles behind it are drawn from video games: quests, missions, powerups. These are all familiar ideas to players born and raised during the 80s and onwards, and provide a very effective system that reformulates the entire experience of interacting with a website by making every action count towards achieving some kind of ulterior result.
Everyone is a VIP
What better way to engage with a self-indulgent culture than by indulging the self? Every player who signs up is special and can receive special treatment, but you’ll have to put in some work if you wish to improve your status.
Invite-only clubs have become rarer and players’ activity on the site, tracked via comp points, is what mainly determines their VIP status. And this is important because it appeals to the other side of young culture, which values fairness among equals.
Playing on mobile
There’s no need to elaborate on this point. Mobile is now equal in standing with desktop, and any self-respecting casino should offer a user experience that is optimised for consumption across multiple screen sizes and devices.
A note about dedicated mobile casino apps. Oftentimes, these downloadable apps for iOS and Android devices are nothing more than a convenient bookmark that redirects the user to the mobile version of the website. Do not attempt to offer this option unless your site actually looks good on mobile.
Reviews, guides and evergreen content
Many operators and affiliates are still using a text-centred approach that tries to pull in players with long-tail keywords, content length and depth, frequent posts, and other on-site SEO tactics. Given the saturation of the market, the ability to secure first dibs on reviewing (or rather previewing) new games or casino sites is key to rise above the noise.
While reviews of individual games and websites are still the most common type of articles posted on affiliate sites and casino blogs, publishers are beginning to take a fresh outlook on the content they put on their properties. Evergreen articles with titles that target specific player segments may improve share-ability and effectiveness, such as Top slot games for sci-fi fans or Pick your favourite 90s TV show and we’ll find the perfect casino game for you.
Compilation articles that include games with elements in common (e.g. theme or reel type), as well as tutorials and guides for signing up, finding the best bonuses, or becoming a VIP are also very popular.
Blooper reel: What I got wrong the first time
Live streaming casino games
You can easily find videos of slot playthroughs and reviews on YouTube, but the potential of live streaming as a means for affiliates to engage with players or fans is still worth exploring. Considering how Twitch has exploded as a base for players eager to show off their gaming exploits—good and bad—it’s not a stretch to imagine the same principle might work for a nail-biting round of cards or even slots.
Virtual reality and 3D
Neither of these technologies has managed to gain significant traction from last year, even though large brands in online casino gaming have invested in both in a bid to get a foothold in this emerging market. While it’s never advisable to pronounce anything as “dead”, it sure looks like we’re still a long way from being able to step inside a lobby and spin reels by pulling on an invisible lever in the air.