Report: A bright future for skill-based games

Report: A bright future for skill-based games

  • Buddy Frank, CDC Gaming Reports
February 20, 2019 10:09 PM
  • Buddy Frank, CDC Gaming Reports
  • Other

According to a new survey, casino executives are looking for games that appeal to a new generation of gamblers. And 70 percent of them say they “have, plan to, or are considering adopting skill-based games, games with skill components or games with arcade-style play.”

The data comes from a new poll commissioned by Synergy Blue, a provider of skill-based games and software tools for game developers in the segment.

Among the other findings:

  • 67 percent of the respondents want games that appeal to “a new generation of gamblers.”
  • 46 percent think skill-based games will “increase casino attractiveness by offering diverse products.”
  • 34 percent say they hope the games have the potential to generate new revenue.
  • 81 percent indicated that skill-based games would provide a different player experience.

Surprisingly, the executives surveyed are not focusing their growth efforts on just Millennials, or even the profitable and steady Baby Boomers. The survey says half of all casinos are focusing on Gen X’ers (born from 1965 to 1980) as their target over the next five years. Maybe that’s not so surprising since the Gen X’ers will range from 45 to 60 years of age in just over five years.

Past demographic surveys in Nevada and across the country have consistently said that the sweet spot for casino visitors is the 50+ range. On that same question in this new survey, 28 percent said they will focus on Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) and 22 percent were targeting Millennials (born 1981 to 1996).

A portion of the survey hit traditional slots with results that have been consistent in most locations.  Slots represented the majority of casino games (84percent agreed) and 64 percent said video slots are their top performers in terms of revenue.  Again, no surprises in what the executives were expecting from any new slot:  55 percent were looking for an increase in time on device, and 45 percent were seeking an expanded player demographic.  That last stat is what has prompted the most interest in the skill-based category with lots of speculation that millennials won’t play traditional slots.

As far what it takes for any slot to succeed (skill or otherwise), 55 percent said that poor net revenue was the number one reason for pulling a game from the floor, and 33 percent cited low Coin In/Day as the second most important reason. Tracking that performance also came at no surprise as 69 percent said they evaluate all games on a monthly basis. It is most likely that those not in that majority analyze and evaluate the games even more frequently.

There were some adoption hurdles noted about this new category of games. Concerns “over legal or jurisdictional requirements” were cited by 34 percent as a possible challenge to skill-base game adoption. Whether or not they would really appeal to patrons was mentioned by 30 percent.  Likewise, 17 percent felt the challenge was the lack of knowledge (by players) of these types of games. The group said the areas in which they’d most like to see improvement before becoming fans are “player appeal” (51 percent) and “player understanding” (50 percent). One in five said that “skill-based games need to demonstrate a stronger hold percentage.”

These same executives did say that the benefit of skill-based games that would lead to the most adoption would be an “increase net or incremental revenue” (45 percent) and “expanded player demographics” (29 percent).  They’ll look for that revenue increase by “measuring against slot floor average” (30 percent) and would also compare and measure them against other “standalone product” (41 percent).

In their summary, Synergy Blue says “a new generation of players opens the door for a new generation of games. And future generations of gamers will increasingly be more tech-savvy and digitally native.  Many Gen X’ers in particular are from the early video gaming generations, and it means they are accustomed to a more engaging, more immersive gaming experience.”

The survey, titled “The State of Skill-Based Games in a New Era of Gambling,” was conducted over 100 casinos in the third and fourth quarters of 2018.