Casinos in social media have occupied an intermediate position between classical online casinos and non-gambling games that offer to donate, meaning to buy virtual objects, bonuses or virtual coins for real money.
Traditional casino games attract those players who want to win money and worry about losing them. In games, offered by social casinos, players don’t have to worry about money, on the contrary: users consider social casino games to be relaxing. And they play these games for fun.
Social casino games encourage interaction between players online with the help of social platforms and attract occasional players, interested in engaging pastime.
Similarities and differences between social games and games for money
Social casinos are distributed in social media. Most of them are multiplayer and browser games, meaning that they don’t need to be installed on PC, and are available from the majority of mobile devices connected to the Internet.
In fact, social casino games hardly differ from virtual money games, or in other words trial games or games for fun in online casinos. They have the same bright interface and animation, the same game mechanics, possibilities to adjust settings, etc. And the same popular games: poker, roulette, slot machines, as well as bets, which can be won or lost.
The difference is that meanwhile in online casinos virtual money games are played in order to learn the game principles and to train, and afterwards to apply the obtained skills and knowledge in a game for real money, in social casinos users play only for fun. Besides that, virtual money won in a social casino cannot be changed for real money. That’s why social games can be hardly referred to as “gambling”; in fact they represent an analogue, which has lots in common, but not more than that. The main motivation of a player in gambling is the cash prize, and in social games – the game process itself.
Another distinction lies in the legislative regulation. While Internet casinos are banned in many countries, social games are legal all over the world.
Social games players represent a more active audience compared to online casino users. They play more often, and start more play sessions. For instance, the number of play days is 1.6 times bigger than with the rest of online players. And on every play day social players start 1.4 times more sessions as compared to online casino players. Thus, statistically, mobile players have not only more play days, but also higher activity on these days. It is encouraged by the rapid development of mobile technologies.
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In general, mobile players show more progress according to all parameters. They faster get engaged into playing and become loyal customers, investing money in their favourite pastime. They make second and subsequent payments faster, play more often and initiate several sessions each time when they are playing. According to all parameters, they resemble the proactive version of Internet casino players.
High dynamics is facilitated by Internet accessibility and the gaming platform itself, namely the mobile device that is always by player’s side, and which he can constantly glance at. Unlike more conservative online players, their mobile colleagues can play on the go, when they want to waste time or have a possibility to take a break from their routine.
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All games have the same goal: spend as much time playing as possible and achieve the best possible results. In social games players can play for free, but in order to complete the initial stages, they will have to purchase more levels or ask their friends for additional lives, as for example in Candy Crush Saga (the most popular social game on Facebook). All achievements and tasks can be shared with friends within the social network.
Facebook users convert cash into in-game money. Players buy credits for their game accounts, or make real money bets. Thus, rather large amounts can be spent while playing.
Social casino games are mere entertainment, but players are highly motivated to continue playing all the time. Psychological researches show that new players become “addicted” very quickly, try to accumulate as much virtual money or points as possible, and get to the next level – that’s why they come back to the game every day. Social casino players want to make progress in the game and are ready to pay money for that.
Having thoroughly studied the audience of social players in the most developed markets of the US, Great Britain and Australia, psychologists have reached an interesting conclusion. Players that spend a lot of time in social casino games, on average spend $550 every month – that is up to $7000 annually in order to play without hope of winning. Meanwhile, players that play for real money in online casinos spend approximately the same amounts, as statistics shows.
Advantages of social games
The audience of players in social media comprises tens of millions of people. The traffic of social casinos is 20 times bigger than online casino traffic.
But the main advantage of social casinos lies in the fact that legally they are not considered as games of chance in all countries of the world, and at the same time generate huge profits for their creators. According to the law, games of chance stipulate some material win: a prize or money. In a social casino it’s impossible to receive some material gain based on the results of the game.
At the same time social players are ready to spend real money on this pastime.
Player retention strategy
There are several ways of retaining players in social casinos. The first way has a marketing background and implies constant innovations for maintaining player’s interest. It includes regular updates that require spending a substantial part of earnings: advanced game play, new levels, new unique features, additional bonuses and opportunities. All of it serves as an anchor for loyal players.
The second way is the distortion of winning probability aimed at “tying” a player. Dynamic Game Balancing, used in social games, serves for this purpose. Let’s see how it works using the example of "one-arm bandits". If a player has difficulties with completing a level, the game is getting easier for him. And on the contrary: if the player is playing too well, the game is getting more complicated. Payback percentage can change in social casinos even in the middle of a game session: player can start to play having 125%, and end with 75%. In fact, events in social games are hardly ever randomly generated. After all, playability is what matters for developers – to make player keep buying additional points, credits, and chips for real money. In online casino games winning odds cannot be changed.
How social casinos earn money
The main principle of a social casino lies in the fact that it’s a free entertainment, but player can purchase lots of things for real money. For example, everyday player gets a definite number of chips. The system is built in a way to attract and engage the player. And when he loses the predetermined daily amount of free chips, but wishes to continue enjoying the game, chips can be bought additionally for real money. Moreover, player can buy lots of bonuses, features of VIP accounts, exclusive avatars, updates, etc. Sometimes, registration buy-ins for specific tournaments are paid with real money.
The second significant revenue item of social casinos – money received for advertising banners. Thanks to huge traffic, games in social media represent a very beneficial advertising platform.
Currently, advertising earnings on social games platforms go off the scale and in some cases can reach $10 per one user. For several years demand has been exceeding supply, even despite the rather significant number of mobile devices used for playing.
Read also: The way online casinos make profit
Development prospects of social casinos
Social casinos, as business area, represent huge prospects for both: developers and investors.
According to statistics, the number of people playing social casino games exceeds the number of registered users of real-money online casinos almost by 20 times, and has already reached the figure of nearly 5 million people per month.
It is expected that by 2017 social and mobile casinos with virtual currency will generate half of the revenue of the whole online casino sector, which is equal to €19 billion. It is a very big, dynamically growing market, and it still has space for new venturous startups, which can occupy their own niche. After the rapid development of social casino games in social networks in 2013, they began to develop explosively fast on mobile platforms in 2014.
What significantly influences the further growth of social casinos market?
- Growth in the popularity of mobile platforms and accessibility of mobile Internet.
- Further promotion of social networks and coverage of new eastern markets.
- Legality in legislative environment.
- Development of new technologies related to virtual reality.
Social casinos can also appeal to owners of online and landbased casinos, as they can introduce the audience to the gambling world and encourage people to try luck at online casinos with real stakes and wins.