Whenever, Wherever: Virtuals on the move

Our Head of Mobile Products, Mike Dunphy, recently told readers of iGaming Business magazine why the future of virtuals is on mobile and how innovation used to develop SIS Infinite Games has made it easier than ever to give players the same experience they are used to getting in shops.

In 2010, just 20 % of UK adults owned a smartphone and Blackberry users far outnumbered those with an Android device. Much has changed since.

Fast forward to today and smartphone ownership in the UK is currently upwards of 75 %. The newest generations of smart phones boast powerful computers that were once unimaginable and rich displays that rival nearly any television on the market today – and that’s before we get to the microscopic cameras that are so good they consigned once all-conquering companies like Kodak to the analogue dustbin almost overnight.

Practically every industry, sector and vertical one can imagine has been transformed by mobile beyond all recognition – none more so than gaming.

It’s only natural that the mobile boom, which the rest of the gaming industry has enjoyed in the past few years, is now a possibility for virtuals, but the vertical has been relatively slow to react.

If operators fully embrace the mobile revolution in virtuals they will see enormous benefits, but there are some challenges to overcome.

Retail virtuals often boast extremely high quality graphics, and they store an incredible volume of data locally. Previous attempts to simply mimic the retail virtual experience in a mobile device have proved cumbersome, leaving the end user with an inferior product that doesn’t match their in-shop experience.

Many operators have now come to the realisation that what works perfectly well on a FOBT or desktop doesn’t necessarily equate to a first-class mobile product.

Additionally, the way users consume content on their mobile is almost, by definition, on-demand. Punters who are commuting home from work may not have the time or patience to wait for a scheduled virtual race to start.

Operators should take the opportunity now to attune more to their customers needs and deliver an optimal omni-channel virtual experience. One of the keys to a successful mobile virtual is the ability to deliver an event on-demand.

Consumers who are mobile savvy are highly likely to be familiar with in-play markets and instant cash out facilities, so asking them to wait for a scheduled race will simply not work anymore. Mobile users are time poor, and some studies suggest less than 15 seconds is now spent on a single webpage on average. How long until that next scheduled virtual race again?

The path forward for virtuals must be to have an omni-channel approach and on-demand delivery.

This will fundamentally change a model that has worked successfully for the better part of twenty years, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a thriving business anywhere in the world that is delivering their product or service in the same way as they did in the 1990s.

To accomplish this transformative feat, virtual suppliers will need to consider the challenges that producing a first class virtual for mobile entails.

With an omni-channel mindset, suppliers can address the issue of transferring large amounts of data and video to users. One way of doing so is to develop virtuals that are browser rendered, as we have with SIS Infinite Games.

Creating games so they are browser rendered means you are only sending small amounts of data (the race result) to the customer’s mobile device. Allowing the customer to play the games even when they are in areas with low bandwidth

If the user interface of virtual titles is developed with an omni-channel approach, suppliers are able to make huge leaps in terms of what the end user experiences. There will of course be some sacrifices to be made in terms of limiting unnecessary ultra-high quality graphics, but sophisticated user interfaces can allow games to work well on both desktop and mobile. The modern player just won’t accept anything less these days.

Above all else a successful mobile virtual in the years to come, must give customers more control over when and where they can play.

Like it or not, we are living in an on-demand world where a wait of minutes can seem like hours. The golden era of scheduled virtual races is well and truly behind us. Operators should embrace change and move to on-demand or risk getting left behind by the competition.

To find out more about SIS Infinite Games, our industry leading suite of virtuals, or read the rest of the latest issue of iGaming Business click here