The gaming industry is always evolving, and often enough it’s developers in the UK and the U.S. at the center of the changes. These two countries make up a significant portion of game development on all different mediums, and thus tend to account for a lot of the innovation we see as well. In recent years, this has been exemplified by the strong mobile games and VR experiments coming from both countries, as well as the fact that eSports business is crossing the pond in both directions. But there’s also one area in which the UK has somewhat subtly been leading on its own: the online casino space.
Online casino games, or at least the ones involving real money, don’t necessarily get a great deal of attention from Americans who aren’t always able to engage with them. An in-depth look at this massive genre of gaming as it exists in the UK, however, reveals that it’s been something of an unexpected trendsetter, often at the forefront of new concepts in gaming. Here, we’re looking at a few specific ways in which the UK’s popular casino sites have helped to influence the broader gaming industry.
No one needs to be told at this point that for most of the decade we’ve just wrapped up, Marvel and DC entertainment has been all the rage. At this point, it seems that a new superhero movie or show comes out just about every month. And due to the ludicrous popularity of these action-packed films, a major audience for video game adaptations has developed. We’ve seen mobile games, online MMOs, and console and VR adaptations all revolving around popular heroes; in May of next year, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montréal will release Marvel’s Avengers, which may just be the biggest and best effort yet in the genre. But before most of this, there were casino games based on superheroes on UK sites. That’s not to say that app, console, and VR games wouldn’t have followed, but the UK-based slot arcades – which thrive on licensed characters and themes – were some of the first to take advantage of comic book superheroes’ modern resurgence (even if Marvel ultimately pulled its content from casino platforms).
Needless to say, virtual reality is becoming increasingly popular, despite what some might have viewed as a shaky rollout. As the world has gotten to know modern VR gaming, a lot of the focus has revolved around the best original concepts and brand new games. However, some may be surprised that the casino genre produced some of the first popular VR games that were actually adapted from existing material. Most notably, Gonzo’s Quest – a 3D slot game that’s present on just about all of the UK’s prominent casino sites – had a VR adaptation announced early in 2018. Clearly that doesn’t place it among the first modern VR games. However, it was arguably one of the first to show that the right game from any medium could be adapted to virtual reality.
In the past few years particularly we’ve learned to take cross-platform gaming for granted. A great browser game tends to lead to an app; there are excellent mobile versions of console games; the best PC games are available for top consoles, and so on. It’s difficult to trace cross-platform gaming like this to any sort of origin, but it’s fair to say the casino genre has been championing the concept for about as long as we’ve had modern gaming mediums. We’ve written primarily about UK casinos as relates to online sites in this piece, but guides to casino sites in the UK tend to specify that there is accompanying mobile content. This has been the case for years now, such that it’s fair to say these casinos were some of the first modern games to become available at maximum convenience across various platforms.
Narrative in Gaming
Emphasis on story comes and goes in gaming, but a few years ago, one could have made a pretty compelling case that an overarching narrative wasn’t particularly important. Multiplayer was taking over (to the detriment of a lot of single-player experiences or “story modes”) and graphics and gameplay mattered most. But with the rise of mobile games – and, yes, casino games too – narrative has come back into focus. These games don’t always have the same range in terms of graphics, gameplay, or general depth, and so can rely on narrative instead to keep players engaged. This has been clearly represented in some of the better UK casino games. Titles like Gonzo’s Quest and others have built in characters and stories in a way that elevates them beyond the more basic digital casinos of the past. They’ve clarified the importance of narrative in gaming, and mobile and some console games alike have followed suit.