Home » Analysis: The less-explored downsides of gamification in gambling

Analysis: The less-explored downsides of gamification in gambling

Hryhorii Shelest, gaming industry COO and analyst, discusses gamification, registration, player loyalty, AI and more.

Gamification vs reality

Every spin in an online casino is a gaming process built on the player’s desire to win. However, presently, casinos, originally intended to be projects for gambling, have become true laboratories for studying how gaming mechanics can engage and retain an audience. Now they don’t just offer games; they create an atmosphere of entertainment where every bet is a step towards a new challenge, and every win is an achievement of new levels of excitement and entertainment.

It’s obvious that businesses consider profitability and strive to provide the most relevant content to their products. But imagine this scenario: you enter an online casino seeking entertainment or perhaps hoping to test your luck and win a big prize. Instead of simply enjoying the game, you find yourself trapped within gamification – a world where gaming elements and mechanics don’t drive you towards big wins but, on the contrary, hinder your gameplay.

Let’s explore together how gamification transforms online casinos, the benefits it brings to players, but also pay attention to its dark side, which can lead to problems.

What risks does excessive gamification pose to the business? The most important one seems to me to be the bonus cost increase, leading to scaling marketing expenses that worsen ROMI

Quest instead of registration

The Reg2Dep conversion plays a crucial role in business efficiency. It reflects the product’s ability to turn new users into active players ready to make their first deposit. However, sometimes, due to poor UX/UI, instead of encouraging players to deposit, gamification can lead to unwanted consequences, decreasing conversion rates by 15-40%. This is especially true for traffic from social networks, for offshore casinos in T2 and T3 markets.

The reason lies in the player’s motivation – Reg2Dep is influenced by the level of player engagement in the gaming process. Gamification, as a strategy aimed at increasing engagement, can attract more users, but it can also distract them from the main goal – making a deposit. For example, too diverse multi-stage funnels for the first deposit with a wide choice of Welcome Packs.

Moreover, gamification can cause players to focus on achieving gaming goals, such as character progression or receiving virtual rewards, instead of concentrating on real winning opportunities, resulting in a decrease in real ARPU.

Loyalty killed by the game

Gamification in online casinos can successfully replace the traditional loyalty system, offering players new and engaging ways to interact with the platform.

Instead of player levels with unique cashback for each level, gamification offers achievements, badges, loot boxes, fortune wheels, character progression and much more.

What risks does excessive gamification pose to the business? The most important one seems to me to be the bonus cost increase, leading to scaling marketing expenses that worsen ROMI. From my experience, a loyalty program consumes 0.3-0.7% of GGR, so it’s crucial to control that the total spend on the loyalty program and gamification does not exceed the historical maximum.

The second, less obvious risk, is the blurring of the player’s focus on a clear flow of expanding their user experience. An excess of promo mechanics and actions can reduce their overall effectiveness by simply confusing players and may increase the workload on the call centre with clarifying questions from users.

Thus, artificial intelligence can play a crucial role in gamification in online casinos, helping to create a more personalised and captivating gaming experience for players, without exacerbating its downsides

Play with us, not against

One definite positive trend in gamification in iGaming is the increase in social interaction between players through interactivity.

And while competitions and internal tournaments with rankings and leaderboards have long been widely used tools, including those offered by B2B platforms in white-label solutions, the functionality of group betting with a streamer during a broadcast and the option of group betting with a friend still remains singular.

AI and gamification

Artificial intelligence can indeed be a powerful tool for gamification at online casinos, helping to enhance the gaming experience with personalised and engaging gameplay scenarios. Let’s try to imagine the future of online casinos together:

– Where AI provides personalised recommendations and bonuses based on analysis of gaming behaviour – preferences and betting history. It identifies time intervals when a player is inclined to make a re-deposit or increase their bet and offers a promo for an improved bonus.

– Where artificial intelligence generates individual lists of gaming tasks, quests and progression parameters. Each level has dynamic settings for both the conditions of progression and the benefits from it – all of which can also be controlled by AI.

Thus, artificial intelligence can play a crucial role in gamification in online casinos, helping to create a more personalised and captivating gaming experience for players, without exacerbating its downsides.

Hryhorii Shelest is an iGaming COO with CMO experience. He has 4+ years of experience in land-based casinos, 6+ years of experience in online gambling and expertise in T1 markets, India, Brazil, Mexico, Africa and CIS.