If you pay any attention to online casinos, you know that slot arcades have transformed dramatically in the past decade. While there are certainly still some simple slot games out there, the games that highlight the category are far more sophisticated than they once were. They feature beautiful graphics, engaging music and sound effects, exciting animations, and even a little bit more depth when it comes to gameplay.
To this point, we’ve mostly seen this improvement going unnoticed with the general gaming public (or the portion of it less interested in casinos). Of late though, there have been some reasons to believe slot arcades may be on the cusp of a breakout.
A few short years ago, a survey of gamer preferences found that 67 per cent of them valued “quality of the graphics” above all other factors, with “price” coming in second at 65 per cent. One of the seemingly obvious knocks against today’s slot arcades is that no matter how pretty or engaging they might be, they’re still lacking in gameplay relative to other types of games. That may still be true, but the survey results just mentioned point to the possibility that games might just not care.
A growing preference for graphics and affordable games above all else should naturally drive more people toward slot arcades over time, even if gameplay remains somewhat lacking in some cases.
The actual themes that slot graphics and animations bring to life matter as well, and in this respect, the category’s reverence for myth and history are also likely to put slot arcades on the map. In gaming more broadly, we’ve seen a distinct embrace of history and myth in the last ten years. From Assassin’s Creed’s trips through the past to Red Dead Redemption’s exploration of the American West, there are countless examples. Incidentally, the same can now be said of casino slot arcades. Titles based on ancient Greek gods and Egyptian lore have been popular for some time now, as have a few slots that allude to ancient Arabia or, again, the American West. What’s more noteworthy though is that some of the latest games in the slot category show that these games are only getting better. Two relatively recent releases on Gala Casino—Scarab Kingdom and Mighty Atlantis—can rightly be said to be some of the prettiest and most engaging myth and history games in the slots category.
If we keep seeing this kind of improvement alongside continued enthusiasm for the settings, it stands to reason one or two slot adventures will eventually break through to earn more mainstream attention.
Among the other factors working in slot arcades’ favour with regard to specific games is that there are quite a few licensing deals in the category. As popular as myth and history games are in slot circles, there is also a lot of attention paid to games based on films, superheroes, rock groups and pop stars, and major TV shows. This allows for some cross-promotion that is eventually going to result in a given slot arcade gaining popularity beyond exiting online casino fans.
We might actually be seeing a version of this right now. The cast of Friends is in the midst of something for an extended reunion tour, running a special for HBO, helping to boost their show on the HBO Max streaming platform, and even, per Yahoo, starting an official merchandise collection. Alongside all of this, several casino platforms have added Friends-based games to their collections and generated some positive attention in the process. Eventually, a similar partnership at the right time will result in a measurable boost for slot arcades.
Last but not least is the NFT phenomenon, which we’ve written about before as a sort of next frontier in digital exchange and ownership. Right now, slot arcades can be played either for money or on a just-for-fun basis, depending on where the gamer is located and what his or her preference might be. But NFTs hold the potential to establish something in between: a version of a slot arcade in which winnings take the form of digital assets that can be collected as unique pieces.
This one is a little bit more hypothetical, but one can certainly imagine NFT inclusion boosting slots’ popularity. Simply put, if gamers knew they stood to collect the occasional NFT just by playing an internet slot arcade, more would likely be doing it!
The slot arcade space has grown tremendously up to this point, but it’s still awaiting a true, mainstream breakthrough. This may or may not ever happen for the space. But if it is going to, it may well be thanks to the factors and trends above.
There’s a subscription service for everything nowadays—food and drinks: coffee (particularly Nespresso-style capsules), tea, gin, beer. For household goods: dishwasher tablets and laundry detergent. There’s even one for the sort of products you should be replacing regularly, such as razors and toothbrushes. I’ve signed up for several (perhaps too many) and have found that some are far more useful than others.
You have to use something on a regular and predictable basis in order to not run out too soon or have a dozen spares when the next package arrives. Introductory deals quickly lose their appeal when you have to pay full price, but they can also be awkward or deliberately annoying to cancel. I should know, I’ve been caught out repeatedly.
Most media is consumed via subscriptions, too. Apple Music and Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime, NowTV. Who still buys CDs or DVDs (strangely though there are still 2.4 million Americans who get Netflix via post in DVD format), or even purchases music to download? And in that same breath, Apple has announced that iTunes is being discontinued next month, to be replaced with Apple Music and Apple TV apps.
This week, it also launched Apple Arcade, a subscription-based games service launched on the App Store. It gives users access to dozens of games—in time, there will be over 100, with zero ads and no additional payments at any time. “How Apple Arcade Will Reshape Mobile Gaming,” reads Wired’s headline. It is offering high-quality games from established mobile gaming studios, such as Ustwo Games who produced the stunning Monument Valley. “The genres range from strategy and fantasy to absurdist golf,” Wired summarise. “Some, like Sayonara Wild Hearts, seem wildly ambitious.”
After a free one-month trial, access to Apple Arcade will cost £4.99 a month, a thoroughly good value given the range of games available, and one subscription can be shared with up to five family members. But the service goes beyond just mobile gaming—it will soon be available on Macs and Apple TV too.
Recent years have seen a shift away from paid mobile apps—remember Doodle Jump?—to free-to-play games with in-app purchases, generally to remove apps, access further content, or buy in-game currency. Here, Apple hopes to redress that, focusing on user experience without distraction.
Subscriptions give more power to the production companies, meaning they have more up-front capital and are less reliant on advertisements and gimmicks. Generally, this allows them to be more creative, experimental, and take on bigger risks. It’s what has allowed HBO, for instance, to make Game of Thrones, or Netflix to produce shows like The Crown. But it also requires these platforms to continue bashing out hit content in order to keep their subscribers. At the end of each one of those blockbuster series, Netflix, for example, loses massive percentages of its subscribers.
Subscriptions, however, fundamentally change the relationship between vendor and consumer. You don’t own your Spotify library. Netflix can remove programmes and films whenever they want, and they do so all the time. There are no guarantees, apart from their own original content, which they might cancel. Given the success and popularity of such companies over the past few years, many major U.S. networks are following suit. Friends and The Office, perennial favourites on Netflix in the U.S., will leave the platform in 2020, instead streaming exclusively on HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s streaming service.
The crux of the issue is that access only lasts as long as your subscription. No matter how much money you give Netflix, they’ll never let you download and keep Friends, or Orange Is The New Black, or Glow. This isn’t even limited to purely digital systems. NuraNow offers a headphone subscription, but stresses that it is not a rent-to-own program, like many phone contracts where you end up owning whatever you rent in the first place. It seems slightly insidious, yet understandable, that any device you rent from the company remotely deactivates the moment you fail to pay an instalment.
And more services are coming. Disney+ will have the studio’s entire back catalogue of movies, as well as Disney channel programmes, original content, and the libraries of subsidiaries: Pixar, Marvel Studios, Star Wars, and 20th Century Fox. This streaming service will be big—and competitors should worry, Apple included. It is launching Apple TV+ on 1st November, promising original content from the likes of Steven Spielberg, M. Night Shyamalan, Oprah, and many more.
Paying for half a dozen different subscriptions really starts to add up, no longer centralised under Sky or similar satellite TV packages. And, without physical artefacts, you can’t share your library with friends and family. Having less ‘stuff’ (CDs and DVDs and video games) might be useful for the nomadic millennial lifestyle, but also feels somewhat empty. I find it hard to remember quite what I have and haven’t watched, while being thoroughly spoilt with choice. Perhaps it is time to unsubscribe.