Development online casino games has become one of the biggest areas of the game development market in recent years. Much of this is due to the expansion of online gambling worldwide. It’s no longer a niche hobby accessible only to a select few, it’s one of the most popular forms of gambling on the planet right now.
So, if it’s such a big area of gambling, how exactly does casino game development work?
Like any video game development process, casino games first go through a design phase. This is usually a paper and pen design of how the game will work. Here the developers will create new features and try to figure out how they will work within the game itself.
With video slots there is usually a bit more flexibility in terms of designing innovative features. This is because there are no hard and fast rules on what games should do. For a game like blackjack, where there are rules to follow, it’s not so easy to be innovative.
Once the basic premise of the game has been planned, the developers will move on to implementing it on a computer.
This is where the real work begins. The first thing to consider is the development environment. Different developers will use different environments. However, what has become fairly standard with many casino game developments is the use of HTML5. This is partly because HTML5 is compatible with most platforms. So, by using HTML5, a developer can create a game that can be used on desktop and mobile platforms without having to do any conversion.
Most developers will build the game with alternate graphics first. These are low quality images that are simply used as placeholders during game engine creation. This is usually the most difficult aspect of game creation, especially for slot games, as math behind the game will need to be carefully tweaked to ensure the game is played fairly.
Once the game engine is created, the artists will start creating the graphics. These are often called assets. The assets will then be added to the game file and will appear in conjunction with the engine.
This can often be the bane of a developer’s life. The testing phase is done for a number of reasons. First, all bugs must be found and then fixed. For example, it wouldn’t be a very good game of Blackjack if every time you beat the dealer, instead of giving you a payout, it gave the dealer double your bet. All bugs will be found during the testing phase and then sent back to the developers to be fixed.
Second, the stats that underpin the game will need to be worked out. With a video slot game, this is done by spinning the reels a large number of times. This could give the game 10,000 credits and then spin the reels 10,000 times at one credit per spin. Once done, there will be enough information to determine what the game’s RTP and variance is.
The testing phase can often be one of the longest aspects of the initial development of a game. Especially if a lot of bugs are found. Once the game has been thoroughly tested, it’s time to release it.
Use of the casino
A game can be used by casinos in two main ways. The first goes through land-based casinos and actually covers two different ways of using the machine. It is a common belief that land-based casinos rent out their machines to game developers and publishers. However, the truth tells a slightly different story. In fact, 85% of gaming machines in land-based casinos in the United States are owned by the casino.
This is partly because modern technology has allowed for much more flexibility. So whereas in the past a machine had a single game on it and that was it, modern technology means that a casino can own the machine but then load different games onto it via a server. This allows new games to be added to the machines as soon as they are released, without any delay.
With this system, revenue from the machine tends to be split between the casino and the developer. There may also be licensors involved in the transaction. An example of this would be if a game had a big brand behind it as a theme. game of thrones could be a possibility. In this scenario, the casino would have to pay a royalty to the GoT license owner and then split the revenue with the game developer.
Of course, some machines are simply rented. This gives the casino the ability to return the machine if it doesn’t meet the revenue targets it expects to achieve. Rented machines also tend to have higher revenue levels, which is another reason why casinos tend to avoid them.
Online casinos approach things from a different angle. Because they’re not limited in terms of space, they don’t have to worry about a game not bringing in huge revenue. They can just have the game on the site and from there it will be played as the players feel like it. This means that the casinos do not own any of the gambling “machines” listed on their sites.
What will usually happen is that the casino will sign a license agreement with a provider and from there the game will appear on their site. All game revenue will be shared between the licensor, developer and casino. Income splits can be anywhere between 30/30/40 and 10/10/80. It depends on the popularity of the game, the notoriety of the casino and the notoriety of the developer.
While it may seem like online casinos get a harder end of the stick, it’s important to remember that online casinos are able to offer a significantly higher number of games and have the potential to serve a significantly higher number of players. On top of that, running costs are much lower, so profit margins are much higher.
Of course, the world of casino games does not stand still. It had to move with the times to stay in tune with the outside world. One of the biggest innovations of recent years is the introduction of live dealer casino games. These are actually standard table games, but with an added twist. They offer a live video feed with an actual dealer who walks players through the process. These later evolved into more game show-style games, such as Mega Ball and Dream Catcher. The creation of these games is slightly different from standard casino games.
With a standard casino game, once it’s been developed, you just send it to the casinos to play. With a live dealer game, this requires constant input from the developer. So the software is developed in the same way as with a standard casino game initially, but then things change. The game has a studio where all live footage is recorded. Because it’s live, that means the presenter and studio must be active while players are online. This makes them more expensive to produce and operate.
They also require faster internet connections, as the game is streamed as it is played. Although it does not offer comparable prizes to some other casino games, it offers a more immersive and fun experience. Companies such as NetEnt and Evolution Gaming have studios dedicated to these games, which is why they are recognized as market leaders in live dealer games.
These have been around for a long time in land-based casinos. It is essentially a casino game where a small portion of each bet is allocated to a large overall prize. These are linked by a network and can generate incredible gains.
In the world of online casinos, companies such as NetEnt, Microgaming and Playtech all offer high quality progressive jackpots. To operate, casinos must be connected to the Internet. This guarantees that every bet from every player in the world will pay out a small portion of the jackpot. Games are developed with this in mind, so have more complex code in place. This means that even though they don’t offer as much in terms of gameplay, they do offer much bigger prizes.
Some developers have links to certain casinos. This means that when they develop a game, it may only be available in one casino or in a small group of casinos. When this happens, it’s usually only for a small period of exclusivity. The main reason for this is that it would be a problem for the developer if they limit the number of players who can play their game for a long time.
Once the exclusivity period is over, the game will be available on all sites that have a license agreement with the developer.
The future of casino games?
There is a lot of talk about what is to come next with casino games. Many people thought that live dealer gaming was the pinnacle, but with the advent of blockchain development, there is likely to be another place to go. This seems to be the next area that will see games moving forward. One of the big advantages of using blockchain gaming is that it opens up new avenues of compatibility.
This therefore means that there may well be a fully online casino that uses virtual reality in the future. While it might not be in the next two years, it’s definitely on the horizon.