Chairman of Perth’s online social gaming business VGW Nigel Blythe-Tinker is relocating here, and has written a debut article for Startup News…
Technology has transformed many industries, and the gambling world has not been immune. Estimated to be worth $100B in 2017* the fast-growing social, online gaming industry is bringing thrills and excitement of social casinos into the homes of gamers across the globe.
Thanks to technology, online gaming has come a long way from solitaire. The mobile technology boom helped revolutionise the industry and open the door to a new generation of gamers. There’s online gaming in the more traditional sense, like tetris all the way to cryptocurrency gaming like cryptocountries** – a new Ethereum-based game that takes place in a simulated world where entire countries can be bought and sold with the cryptocurrency.
You may wonder – what, or who, exactly is driving this incredible boom?
Contrary to the notion that gaming is reserved for introverts who prefer the comfort of their basement to the great outdoors, gaming is becoming increasingly social. For every worker with an hour to kill on their commute, comes the opportunity for a new inexpensive, throwaway, distraction game. A huge component relies heavily on peer engagement – be that card games and board games that involve multiple players or purpose built social network games, comprising of social network integration or elements.
Designed to be interactive, engaging and fun (think Candy Crush Saga), the social gaming phenomenon often involves multiple players networked together via social media platforms like Facebook. In fact, research from the online social gaming industry in the US suggests that 15 percent of the time users spend on Facebook is spent playing games. A further 1 in 2 of respondents indicated they play games on Facebook at least occasionally.
Let’s face it, it’s Facebook
These statistics suggest Facebook plays a significant role in this burgeoning industry. So much so, Facebook has made way for a new stream of content creators: professional gamers who livestream videos of themselves gaming. While it’s a rather perplexing notion that people might devote screen time to watch people play games rather than actually play them themselves, it’s paying huge dividends for a select few.
Take for example, Daniel Middleton, better known through his online pseudonym DanTDM. The fast-talking, professional gamer has an online audience of over 16 million people. His enthusiasm for piling up blocks in the virtual building game Minecraft has amassed more than 10 billion views on YouTube. If fact, DanTDM boasts the Guinness World Record for most views for a dedicated Minecraft video channel – a record I’m sure you never knew existed. All of these eyeballs have earned him a rumoured $10 million.
Add to the viewing experience gamers who are playing with eye-watering amounts of money at stake, and the volume of viewers is likely to propagate.
The technology underpinning social gaming has come a long way since the days of challenging your mum in a game of Words With Friends. As mobile phones have become more sophisticated, processing power has increased exponentially. We have come a long way since Nokia pioneered the world of mobile gaming with the advent of Snake. Today, we can now play mobile games with the level of instant interaction that matches our decreased attention spans and connectivity we expect from our smartphones.
And for those looking to experience something closer to a real casino or poker tournament, industry leader VGW has designed a model using social networks like Facebook, where players can invite friends to challenge them or play the same games.
With this technological leap and a more connected mobile gaming has come a huge spike in sales: mobile games have now overtaken PC and console games in terms of revenue. For every $10 spent on gaming, DigiCapital expects $4 of that to be on mobile gaming in 2018.
There are arguments that the online gaming could materially disrupt more traditional console gaming. However, as is the case with many great innovators labelled as disrupters, what is often overlooked is the jobs that will be created. New kid on the gaming block, VGW, has quadrupled its workforce in the space of twelve months.
“Glassdoor” touted VGW as a desirable place on to work with 4.9/5 rating, citing factors such as: a culture of openness, competitive salaries, great offices and a focus on personal growth, VGW is not only creating jobs, it’s creating a name for itself amongst job seekers.
With the rise of the industry, increased emphasis is rightfully being placed in promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR). Dynamic regulatory bodies are now in place, providing guidelines to help operators recognise problematic behaviours and ensure reputable management, and ultimately build trust for the gamers.
As the mobile gaming industry continues to evolve, the word gaming is becoming less about consoles and control pads and more about social platforms and smartphones.
It’s about a sophisticated ecosystem that is expected to experience the type of exponential growth we witnessed with social media platforms like Facebook itself, Instagram and Snapchat. While the days of solitaire are not quite behind us, the ability to interact with mobile people through a connected gaming ecosystem will have an enormous impact on gaming in the future.
About the Author: Now based in WA, Nigel Blythe-Tinker is the Executive Chairman and Chief Legal Officer of VGW Holdings; and together with Laurence Escalante, Founder and CEO of VGW and the VGW Management team are rapidly expanding VGW’s international operation.
Feature Image: Eight of VGW’s most popular games: Nefertiti’s Gold, Pearls of Fortune, Golden Wish, Duskmoon Faire Jackpot, Chilli Mama’s, Fortunes of the Fae, The Great Slotini and Gem Huntress.