The video games sector has been one of the major beneficiaries of improving technologies and faster broadband access since the turn of the century. From the early days of console and PC based gaming, games today benefit from online platforms, where gamers from around the world can connect via remote servers to go head to head, for significantly more engaging and more social games.
As graphics and game engines continue to improve year on year, the industry is seldom static for long, with significant competitive pressures to bring out the next best thing, or to the up the ante still further against other competing titles. But this innovation isn’t purely restricted to the games themselves.
A nascent betting industry has sprung up around video games, both from within the games themselves, and from the emerging professional gaming scene. But what does this emergence of betting with video games look like, and why is it so beneficial to game developers, audiences, and the games themselves?
Skins & In-Game Betting
In-gaming betting is fast becoming one of the main ways players can bet within and around video games. Skins are features of video games that are used to improve a character’s appearance, weaponry, or other game features, and these can be wagered between players online. Players can also buy and sell these skins through external marketplaces, which take a commission on each transaction. This has created an almost hidden economy in the gaming world, where players can buy, sell and gamble around their favourite games.
The technology works with APIs, and if players win bets against other players, they can transfer these elements from their gaming profiles to the marketplace, where they can be liquidated for cash. It’s not quite the same as the regular gambling industry yet, but it’s not too much of a stretch to see where this is heading.
Professional eSports – A Blossoming Betting Industry
But it’s not just skins betting and in-game betting that is on the rise in the video game world – video games themselves are becoming the object of the occasional flutter. In fact, the world of eSports is one of the fastest rising markets for gambling in the world, with an increasing number of sportsbooks now supporting betting markets ahead of major eSports tournaments.
eSports are played by professional teams and individuals, and the industry is structured much like any other sport. Divided up into leagues and divisions, according to the specific game title being played, it’s one of the fastest growing sports in history, filling arenas around the world with spectators cramming in to get closer to professional-level players, and the emerging heroes of the sport. The future for eSports looks bright, both as a sport in its own right, but also as a hugely profitable sector for bookmakers.
Sponsorship deals between eSports bookmakers and eSports teams feel like a natural synergy that’s waiting to be exploited more heavily, and the growth of the industry benefits betting markets as much as the betting markets benefit the growth in popularity in the sport.
Leveraging Games For Additional Revenue
A large part of the reason for the emerging synergy between video games and gambling is that it is hugely popular with players. Adding in the financial incentive makes eSports more interesting as a spectator sport, as well as making actually playing the games all the more intriguing. As soon as there’s money on the line, the levels of engagement skyrocket, and even games that are already highly playable become all the more gripping.
But there’s another obvious reason this trend looks set to continue – it’s a way of leveraging game assets for significant additional revenues, allowing games manufacturers to deliver better value for their shareholders, while giving skins marketplaces the money they need to exist and thrive. The bottom line is that by introducing gambling elements into video games, game developers can create more profitable games, which they can reinvest in making even better games for their core audiences.