If you want to know where online casino games are headed next, there’s no better place to go than ICE, the gaming industry conference that took place this week in London. I went down to see what new games and concepts are in the works, and from what I saw, gaming is going in a very cool direction. I talk about what I saw at ICE and the three game formats that could change the way we play on the latest episode of the OJO Show, out now on all the usual podcast platforms. Don’t worry, if you’re a reader, not a listener, I sum up the big casino game trends in this post too.
If you’re expecting the usual futuristic stuff around virtual reality, or think you’ll be playing holographic blackjack in the style of Tom Cruise in Minority Report, you’ll be disappointed. I only saw one VR firm at ICE this year and although I enjoyed playing VR table games, these headsets aren’t cheap (in fact the one I tried was a custom VR headset to be used only that game!) and I still don’t think VR is how most gamers will want to play.
But fear not, the casino world is in for an exciting time without the help of VR, AI or any other acronyms you care to mention.
Live Game Shows 2.0
Live Game Shows using mixed reality technology were the big story of 2023. I saw some astonishing games that are in production right now. Evolution Gaming previewed some of their new games including Lightning Storm and Monster Mash, both of which look spectacular. All told, they had five new games in production, all of them big on entertainment value and striking visuals.
Another company that caught my eye was Eeze who were showcasing a new game called Fantastique World. It’s a Live Game Show based on a wheel of fortune, just like Crazy Time and Adventures In Wonderland, but this one has an AI-powered virtual host, not a real human. Live casino hosts beware – your newly created job is already defunct, and the robots are comin’ for ya.
The digital world Eeze have created – castles, floating islands in the clouds, mythical creatures – is just extraordinary. I’d say it is probably the best-looking casino game I have ever seen. No exaggeration.
Apparently Fantastique World uses Unreal Engine, the tech used in games like Gears of War. If that’s where the online casino experience is going, then happy days. Hopefully we’ll see games like Fantastique World at PlayOJO in the very near future.
If we have video gamers to thank for Fantastique World, then we have crypto fans to thank for Crash Games. I must have walked past dozens of Crash Game studios at ICE this week, and that tells me this format will be big in 2024.
Crash Games are still a niche game in the UK, maybe because it is so unlike any other game. Crash Games get their name from the plane that features in most early versions. It takes off and rises up the screen. The payout multiplier rises with it, starting at 1x and slowly rising to 2x, 3x, maybe 6x, maybe even 10x, and then eventually crashes at a random moment. If you haven’t cashed out by the time it crashes, you lose all your stake.
Crash Games have been available at PlayOJO for a while including Aviator, the original crash game. Pragmatic Play have several good efforts including Spaceman and Big Bass Crash, but the games I saw at ICE blew all of these away, with a much bigger variety of vehicles and characters, and better gameplay too.
The last trend I spotted this week was a type of game called Fish Games. They’re an arcade-style genre from Asia that’s also called Fish Shooting Games or Fish Hunter Games.
Imagine a pond full of fish (or aliens, or soldiers), in different colours and sizes. Using a range of weapons at your disposal, your job is to attack creatures and unlock prizes or bonus features. The bigger the fish, the more ammo it takes to blow it up, and there are progressive jackpots to play for too.
Fish Games are bonkers, a screen of pure chaos that I can completely see doing well in Asia. Whether they’ll catch on here I don’t know. Plus, they aren’t even out yet in the UK as far as I know. But do give them a try if you get the chance.
There you have it, three exciting gaming trends to look forward to in 2024. Interestingly, all of them have been imported from outside the traditional UK casino world. Game shows from TV, Crash Games from crypto gaming and Fish Games from Asian social gaming.
Regardless of whether these new genres or specific games become big successes or not, that tells me our industry is leaning heavily into the ‘gaming’ part of online gaming. Seeing as OJO is all about the fun side of gaming, that’s good news for us, and for you!