Social gaming creates challenges for gaming suppliers

The meteoric rise of the social gaming phenomenon is creating new challenges for gaming suppliers and helping shape the future of casino games, senior executives said at a panel meeting at G2E Asia.

Players are increasingly looking for more involvement in their experience. However, the speed of evolution of social games has created challenges for companies needing to recoup their investment on a product from a client always looking for the next best thing.

“One of the biggest challenges we have coming out of this social gaming, this changing face of gaming is the impact of the life cycle of games,” said Walter Bugno, CEO international at International Game Technology. “It has always been a significant investment to bring a new game to market and you could expect a fairly long lifecycle, but that life cycle is reduced dramatically because people are looking for the next game.”

Bugno said the changes have put significant pressure on teams to think about how to ensure they recover their investment.

Scientific Gaming president and CEO Gavin Isaacs said that along with the challenges the social gaming sphere was also creating opportunities. The company is constantly running tests through its social games to gauge consumer preferences and that information is then relayed back to land based.

“You have to start looking at different ways of entertaining different customers. if you talk about games like Duo Fu or Dragon or Sphinx you are really targeting the top 5 percent of the market. There are so many more people either on the floor or on line that may not be entertained,” he said.

“I think social is a great way to start. One of our goals is to launch some games in social and pass them on to land based, so it’s a very important part of the future.”

Commenting on whether there is room for further consolidation in the industry, the executives agreed there may be some space for deals in the digital space, but the speed of change may make for a risky investment.

 Jamie Odell, CEO and managing director of Aristocrat Leisure said “social is short lived” so the onus is on the buyer to make sure they have found a company whose product has a long enough life span. “There will be some deals done, but you really need to do your due diligence.”