What does 2020 look like for the gaming industry?

/ 11 December 2019

2020 will be with us in less than a month, so I’ve been thinking about what we’ve seen and learnt in 2019 which naturally lead me to thoughts for the New Year. Specifically, I asked myself 5 questions:

What do you think operators should focus on when looking at the player journey in 2020? 

Given the success and incredible results that our customers are seeing in player retention when using our software, I’m going to say retention. However, there is much more to this than just product pushing.

I am responsible for all things commercial in the UK and EMEA for 3radical and we work across many different industries. The more I learn about gaming, the more I can see that the industry is starting to move away from the ‘leaky bucket’ acquisition model to a ‘nurture and develop’ model. Whilst this is not only the case in the gaming industry it is important to note that few industries have the opportunities that gaming does. Knowing your customers is imperative in such a regulated market, therefore gaming has a huge advantage in that they have been working to understand their customers for much longer than other industries have been. Only a fraction of the brands working in the FMCG, casual dining and retail space know who their customers actually are. In casual dining for example most brands only know 11% of the diners in that venue at any one time. And even if they do know who they are, they only have anonymous factual data. For example, in FMCG a brand owner may have millions of actual customers but can only communicate with them via Clubcard messaging. Therefore, that brand will never know who the actual person is who’s buying their products.

Gaming companies have a great bank of information already by which they can start understanding their players and then develop that relationship with them. The more emotional data gaming companies can acquire from their customers the more players will receive targeted and relevant messages which will naturally lead to increased retention. Ultimately there is an incredible mutual benefit for players and operators if the industry focus is on the retention stage of the player journey.   

What do you think will be the next potential legislation to be implemented?

Hmm, not sure on this one. I think things may look quite different on 13th December but what that actually means for legislation will be interesting. I can see the removal of credit cards as a source of funds being a popular (populist?) move. I can also see that legislation may be not as fast to come as additional restrictions on the tech side of things like Apple have done on the app side of things.

What 3 words best describe the gaming industry in 2019?

Probably (yet more) mergers and acquisitions but I also see more new, agile and flexible companies emerging. These new companies haven’t had the cash flow that some of the bigger, more established operators have, but that makes them focused, sharp and keen to do things right, from the start. The likes of MrQ from Lindar, Bede’s platform, and the establishment of service agencies like Positively Distinctive Media are all really good examples of this.

I also think that 2020 will see more people value their players – and the rise of affiliates. CPAs are getting bigger as the affiliates will find more innovative ways to drive more players. Additionally, the best affiliates will drive really valued and valuable players, rather than the promotionally promiscuous players of old. The scales may start equalling out in terms of power play – and all parts of the chain will start valuing players – and engaging with them properly, including personalised offerings and comms for an engaged relationship.

What are your biggest concerns for the gaming industry in 2020?

That it doesn’t grasp the opportunities for – responsible and mutually beneficial – player engagement that it has now. Those who don’t will be the ones who struggle to make it through the next few years, regardless of the colour of the next government. The industry has already changed dramatically in its general demeanour and positioning since we at 3radical first really engaged with it at ICE in Feb 2018. I think 2019 has been a year of progress in many areas – tech, player comms, brand awareness (including the likes of Betfair using brand marketing) and the industry’s gender attitudes. It feels like this could, and should continue, but the key challenge for next year in my view is to develop the current state of play and look after players. Otherwise in 12 months’ time the industry could be facing some serious issues.

Download our 3radical Gaming Industry Report to hear what experts think about the industry:

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