Last year, we were shocked by unprecedented events, and as the pandemic started to spread out, cities went under lockdowns, companies were forced to shut down physical operations, and we had to stay home to comply with the new health restrictions. With much of the world forced to stay inside, online entertainment became some sort of resort for people looking for new alternatives to pass time or even distract themselves from the world news. With more people online, the demand for streaming services, social networks, and especially gaming significantly increased.
Video games have remained a powerhouse within the entertainment industry, with one of the largest fan-bases, and revenues reaching multi-million counts. With this surge in online gaming in the past few years, people looking for new entertainment alternatives weren’t the only ones to have shown interest in the video game market, as the iGaming industry has also benefited a lot from the technology advancements that impacted gaming.
One of the hottest trends in the iGaming industry today, esports betting has been on the rise for a few years now. What started with the controversial skin betting, has now evolved into an important market and the fastest-growing trend within the industry, projected to reach almost $13 billion by 2025. Just a couple of years ago, only specialized websites would offer esports betting, but now bettors can place wagers with traditional sportsbooks and many reputable iGaming operators, and last year, esports played a big role in keeping the market active.
But it’s not just esports that have made it into the gambling market, as the industry has found another way to capitalize on the popularity of video games: online slots. Slot games are certainly one of the most popular pastimes in the world, representing a big share of the iGaming industry. And licensed games have become a major attraction among slots, with many titles based on popular video game series such as Resident Evil and Call of Duty.
Esports on the rise
Since the 2010s, esports have been taking the world by storm, with major tournaments and leagues, millions of players around the world, and some of the largest audiences in the entertainment industry.
Esports betting, however, had a relatively slow start, with an unregulated market based solely on skin betting. Players would use skins obtained as in-game rewards to bet on the outcome of matches and tournaments, and everything was done in an amateur way. This led to several controversies, including underage gambling issues and match-fixing in games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The creation of regulatory bodies such as the Esports Integrity Commission allowed iGaming operators to focus on the esports betting market and start accepting real money bets instead of skin betting, which brought more legitimacy to it, and established esports as a major sector in the gambling industry.
Last year, with the suspension of most sports leagues and tournaments around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, esports betting was taken to a whole new level. As live events were cancelled to comply with social distancing measures, the digital nature of gaming allowed for a smoother transition to online events, making esports the only sporting events to continue activities during the pandemic.
This current rise of esports betting led bookmakers to explore the competitive gaming category, and many operators experienced massive surges in activity. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission reported that esports betting reached an astounding growth rate of 2992 percent, and audiences increased from 170 million to 250 million in just 12 months.
From video games to slot machines
As one of the most successful sectors in the entertainment industry, video games have also impacted the online slots world. To capitalize on this popularity, many iGaming software developers and providers turned their focus to obtaining licenses from acclaimed video game franchises and producing themed slots based on these games.
Today, there are hundreds of these slot games, and some of them are even regarded as the best available today. That is the case of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior Slot, based on the second entry of the most popular fighting video game franchise in history. Licensed and published by NetEnt, this slot features an innovative gameplay, in which players can choose one of eight characters to fight random opponents and bosses.
Other popular slot titles include Resident Evil, released by Skywind Group, Call of Duty, published by Amaya Gaming, and Tomb Raider, developed by Microgaming. But as technology improves, and video games popularity increases year after year, it’s safe to say that many more slots based on video games are coming out in the foreseeable future.