Social casino

Social casino: Primed for change

KamaGames runs the rule over the innovations shaking up the social casino sector

Words by Sam Forrest, director of global communications and content

You might think that social casino games don’t need to evolve and innovate in the same way as other game genres. After all, they don’t have the graphics arms race of AAA games, for instance, nor do they have to adapt as drastically to the demands and capabilities of new consoles and PCs.

However, this doesn’t take into account the constant changes (both subtle and seismic) that are happening in the games world and, in turn, throughout social casino games. Here are a few examples of how the genre has been innovating in recent years.

Strategy and metagaming

Metagaming, or the layer of the game that is separate but yet linked to the core game-play, is on the rise across all game genres. Whether it’s in an RPG, an open-world multiplayer game or an arena title, players are now looking at other players’ motivations, their progression and achievement in the core gameplay as well as in the game’s greater ecosystem, analyzing their gameplay strategies and anticipating how they will play.

It’s becoming a bigger part of social casino games too, as the games become more complex and more social trimmings are being embedded.

Social casino players are chatting more, returning to play against regular opponents (who eventually become friends), and are using in-game communication features to augment their playing style.

Players might chat, buy virtual gifts, send chips to one another, use animated emojis, group into clans or leagues and even communicate through the way they time their plays (timing when they check, raise or fold for instance). Some games (like our Pokerist) even allow for text and voice messages too.

All of these features could also be used as tactics to psyche out, mislead (or bluff) or team up with other players, however these actions can also be analyzed and used by opponents too as at the poker tables, a digital tell can be just as useful as a physical one.

These strategies and metagame tactics are only going to become more common, as games become more sophisticated and the gamers that play them more diverse.

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Sam Forrest, director of global communications and content, KamaGames

AR and VR

Augmented reality and virtual reality are changing how we view gaming. Their emergence could be likened to the dawn of Nintendo’s motion controllers – a new way to look at and play games – and, like the motion controller, AR already has its killer app – Pokemon Go (despite the more recent challenges it is facing to keep players engaged).

According to market research firm IDC, worldwide revenues for the augmented reality and virtual reality markets are projected to approach $14bn in 2017, but that forecast is set to explode to $143bn by 2020.

There was a record $2.3bn invested in VR in 2016, and that number is expected to climb as Facebook alone has invested in 11 VR and AR companies.

Daniel Kashti, KamaGames’ chief marketing and commercial officer, recently said that it’s still to be proven how these new technologies will impact social casino games. Both AR and VR remained popular on industry prediction slides but they have yet to show how they will realise their full potential.

Live streaming

An average of 622,000 viewers are watching live streaming on Twitch at any given time. The site has over 100 million unique monthly users and nearly half of those spend nearly 20 hours a week watching it. That makes the reported $970m purchase from Amazon look like money well spent.

Live streaming, which goes hand in hand with esports, is also perfect for social casino games and so you can expect to see a number of collaborations between streaming giants and social casino operators being announced in the not too distant future.


Along with just about every genre of gaming, social casino titles have gotten more sophisticated, better looking and elegant. Third-person and 3D graphics have replaced the simple top-down or 2D appearance, and menus have gotten clearer and more attractive. Meanwhile, avatars are becoming more sophisticated and elaborate (offering more customisable choice to gamers), while the settings and backgrounds have become more imaginative and diverse.


Social casino games initially found an audience through social media. Playing on a desktop via a Facebook page, for instance, was arguably the most common portal (which also contributed hugely to the development and growth of the industry due to the viral nature of the platform).

But the audiences moved to smartphones, browsers, messaging platforms and even smart TVs. Through these new platforms people are finding new ways to discover and share social casino games. Naturally, the games are all optimised for mobile, as the platform is steadily overtaking desktop in the social space.

Growing social layers

The significant growth of the social aspect of gaming is not just in the way that the gamers communicate through the use of emojis, animations, virtual “gifts,” all of which are becoming quirkier, more diverse and more elaborate with every iteration. It also means that social media integration and communication facilities are becoming more user-friendly and diverse with developers going above and beyond to further enrich the social aspects.

One of the challenges every new game has is that the player needs to build his profile and in-game persona to dive into the game, to feel they belong and to achieve recognition.

Over the past few years it’s evident that player behavior has changed dramatically. The rise of mobile as the dominating gaming platform and the tremendous step up in technical capabilities (on the network side, on the handset side and with payments and micro transactions), the availability of diversified payments options and ease of use, have all made their mark on the industry. This has resulted in a change in player demographics and their state of mind while playing. Players are more tuned in and their expectations for bite-size gaming experiences has risen which has in turn resulted in a lack of patience for clunky products.

This new generation of players have been given, and now expect, rich content with more P2P interactions, skill based mechanics, a sense of game narrative (meaning at least a stronger sense of progression in the game) and a stronger desire to build an in-game persona via a UI design that is both beautiful and rich.

Our games have and will continue to evolve organically, nurtured by our own ideas, changes in possibilities offered by new technology and of course via feedback from our millions of players around the world as no matter how far we progress, it has to always come back to the game being a satisfying and fun experience for the gamer.

KamaGames | Social casino