G2E Asia | Social gaming may help casinos to attract millennials

Christy Fung

Social gaming and casino applications (apps) on mobile devices may be a way for traditional land-based casinos to attract millennial visitors (born between 1980 and 1999) to their resorts, suggested a speaker during the Global Gaming Expo Asia (G2E Asia) yesterday.

Social gaming, of which social casino apps are just one example, is the activity of playing an online game that connects real users and requires some degree of social interaction between them via an online platform. Social gaming is disproportionately enjoyed by younger demographics, who are thought to be less interested in traditional forms of gambling, and games are usually played on small electronic devices such as mobile phones and tablets.

The concept was introduced to G2E Asia attendees yesterday afternoon in a session titled “Social Gaming: Adding value to customer life cycle and loyalty,” presented by Christy Fung.

Fung, who is the head of rewards at PlayStudios Asia, a company that develops these applications with a target market in the Asia-Pacific region, discussed how land-based casino operators could leverage the mobile gaming app space to increase their reach and exposure to new gamblers.

She said that this would help traditional casino operators reach millennial consumers – a demographic that is sometimes considered to be unreceptive to traditional marketing campaigns.

“The cost of acquiring new players for a land-based casino is very high,” she said during yesterday’s session. “This is no big secret. Social casinos can help land-based casinos to reach a high-quality audience on a large scale at a very low cost.”

“The young generation are very mobile-savvy and gaming-orientated […] and it is very important to get this young generation into [land-based casino] properties,” added Fung.

By the end of this year, there will be an estimated 2.6 billion smartphone users in the world, with more than half of that number based in the Asia-Pacific region.

Meanwhile, in 2016, Fung said that the revenue generated from mobile games stood at USD38.6 billion; a figure that is 39 percent higher than Macau’s gross gaming revenue.

“Again, 60 percent of that revenue is actually from the Asia Pacific [region],” claimed Fung, and “not only is the Asia-Pacific region already the largest [market for online games], but it is also the fastest growing market in the mobile games market.”

“The social casino is a subcategory under the mobile games category and it’s in a very early phase right now in Asia,” she continued in her presentation, “but it’s growing. To put things into perspective, there are more people playing social casino games every day than visitors to Macau in an entire year.”

Social casino games typically operate on a free-to-play model, where consumers are provided with virtual currency to play the games and to accrue more of the virtual currency.

Fung stressed that the virtual currency cannot be redeemed or “cashed out”, meaning that “this is not a gambling sector; it is [its own] regulated industry.”

Social casino app developers normally generate revenue from either in-app purchases (for example buying more virtual currency if the player is depleted), and in some cases from advertising as a secondary source.

Since users are not required to make in-app purchases and the games can be played for free, popular apps often create wide engagement and replay value with consumers.

Testifying to this, Fung said that “most social casino app users are very engaged” with PlayStudio’s products, spending on average two hours per day on some of the social casino applications.

“To this audience, we promote the fantastic reward experiences of our partners, ranging from MGM in Vegas, MGM in Macau, Genting Malaysia and Star Cruises,” she said, “making around 9.6 million daily brand impressions.”

G2E Asia ended yesterday afternoon after the third consecutive day of the annual event. Organizers informed the Times that the number of unique visitors at the conference reached almost 14,000, which is a 27 percent increase compared to the previous year.

Wednesday visitors up nearly 30 percent

Visitors at G2E Asia’s second day on Wednesday exceeded 11,000, according to a statement from event organizers, representing a 29 percent increase over the number of visitors recorded on the same day last year. At the same time, nearly 1,200 VIPs, otherwise considered to be “key buyers and decision-makers,” attended on Wednesday, marking a one-third increase over last year. In the same statement, Paulo Martins Chan, director of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), presented Macau’s development over the past year and the city’s plan to continue advancing “the synergy between gaming and non-gaming elements.” He also said on Wednesday that the DICJ is deepening its audit responsibilities over the local junket industry, with around one-third of the approximately 120 licensed junkets having already been audited.


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