Does desktop have any value or should the industry go mobile-only?

As the latest edition of the CasinoBeats Slots Festival looms on the horizon, the reels once again become the central focus within this, and the following, edition of the 100 Club, with a desire to explore just how ‘mobile first’ mobile first strategies actually are.

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With the explosion of handheld devices seemingly showing no signs of slowing down, appealing directly to these players, especially with regards to the current climate, is quite rightly an overwhelming priority for games studios. 

In the second part of this mini-series within a series, a distinct slant to look at one-handed play will be undertaken, with a query into if games should be prioritised in such a way over all other forms?

Before we get there, however, back to the relatively simple matter at hand, with a look at if desktop still holds any appeal at all, or, if in the near future it will be looked back upon like that of the MiniDisc player.

Asko Heiskanen, chief gaming and development officer at Yggdrasil, gets us underway by posing a teaser of his own; asking if the industry should consider going mobile only? And if not, how soon should this be considered?

“The value gap between mobile and desktop players has shrunk. Desktop will be soon seen almost like a blast from the past, like Flash download clients were a few years back,” he adds.

Pallavi Deshmukh, CEO at NetGaming, echoes those sentiments, suggesting that such discussions are now simply a moot point: “With mobile betting projected to reach c.60 per cent share of online gambling by 2025 in Europe (and higher in certain key markets), I would be surprised if this hasn’t already been prioritised by operators and suppliers. Mobile-first slot titles are key to revenue growth and player engagement. 

Adding: “Certain emerging markets are inherently mobile-first, built around mobile payment methods, and skipping desktop applications altogether as a common platform for gaming. Smartphones are increasingly ubiquitous, even in lower-income countries.

“The future should be about optimising support on multiple browsers and operating systems on mobile devices to reflect customer behaviour trends.”

The majority of users are playing on their mobiles – the only group for whom that is an exception is the most valuable players”

However, Helen Walton, COO at Glück Games, offers a different perspective, suggesting that, despite mobile being the undoubted winner of this race, one particular type of player should not be forgotten.

“The majority of users are playing on their mobiles – the only group for whom that is an exception is the most valuable players – yet how much of that is because designers are still focusing the very best of their design onto desktop? 

“The future of the industry is going to depend to a great extent on broadening its base by appealing to the low time, low spend majority of players – and hence mobile design. Much of the focus on desktop is about thinking from the designer’s comfort-view (as they work on desktop) rather than the user’s.”

To conclude, Tim Parker, COO at superseven.com, touches upon the colossal difference between a mobile-first game and miniature desktop version, and suggests that players, unlike years gone by, will no longer accept a poorer experience.

“Simply put, if it is not developed mobile first then they are not developing their games with the end user in mind. We know that 60-70 per cent of all casino gaming transactions are now on handheld devices, so if you are not developing for this then you are cutting your market and losing out to the competition.

“The difference between a game that has been developed for mobile compared to one which is a miniature version of a desktop game is immense. 

“A couple of years ago players would accept it as they had no option. Now they will gravitate towards those that give the best gaming experience. Players are now so used to getting a mobile first experience either through social gaming, TV/Netflix etc that providing them with anything else is just asking for trouble.”

And with that ours, and more or less everyone else’s, natural conclusions have been drawn, and so the 100 Club will return in one month’s time with a much narrower focus within the mobile ecosystem. 

The question to be posed will touch upon the mobile-first approach as the overwhelming strategy for slot developers, and gravitate to look at how big of an appeal, and focus, one-handed play has on mobile slot gaming.

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