How multiplayer gaming infiltrated the casino industry
A quick look at how multiplayer is changing the face of the “other” gaming industry.
From MOBAs and MMOs to one-on-one fighting games and non-realtime strategy titles, it’s an undeniable fact that online multiplayer has changed the gaming landscape. Its effect has even reverberated all the way through to the “other” gaming industry: the one bathed in the sights, sounds, and neon lights of casinos.
Multiplayer started showing up in slot machines in 2005 when slots manufacturer – IGT rolled out a new iteration of their Wheel of Fortune game. The new version allowed up to nine players to play and share in the machine’s payout.
The interest generated by the multiplayer feature was enough to convince other manufacturers of its popularity. Pundits also recognized the feature’s merits, with Merrill Lynch analyst David Anders predicting a “movement toward multi-station, communal play gaming devices” according to Reuters
Now, with a few years’ worth of experience under the manufacturers’ collective belts, multiplayer slot machines are fast becoming a ubiquitous sight in land-based casinos. IGT continued to solidify its position as the world’s leading slots manufacturer with licensed games like James Cameron’s Avatar, a next-gen slot machine with everything from 3D graphics to both conventional and touchscreen controls.
Apart from hotseat multiplayer, the Avatar machines (there are multiple versions, with another one slated for release next year) are appropriating a few more features more commonly seen in video games. VentureBeat Dean Takahashi noted that the machines come with “levels, achievements, progress metrics, and incentives aimed at getting people to drop more quarters into the machine.”
The same is also happening online, where social multiplayer games have an iron grip on the collective casual gaming consciousness. Zynga, for example, has already started to forge a path towards real money social gaming. Gaming Realms Limited, the company behind castlejackpot.com, also chose to bolster its social game offerings with the multi-million-dollar reverse acquisition of BeJig earlier this year.
With slot machines becoming more and more like video games with each passing year, what else does the future hold for the “other” gaming industry? Killstreaks and worldwide tournaments, maybe? Only time will tell.