Avid gamers were put out of their misery in late 2019 when Sony put to bed months of speculation by announcing that their brand new PS5 would be released onto the market in “Holiday 2020”. Meaning players can look forward to a brand-new console just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
With Microsoft snapping at their heels, the bosses at Sony are looking at new and increasingly novel ways to gain the advantage in the console wars. Could the incorporation of an already popular pursuit like online gambling help them in that pursuit?
Are console players ready for gambling?
Ten years ago, the idea of console gambling would have been anathema to many players. It would have been seen by many as a clunky blurring of the lines between two completely different leisure sectors.
However, in recent years, console players have been exposed to more and more gambling elements on their favourite games. In-game purchases once seen as crude and obtrusive have now become the norm on many titles.
The vast majority of these in-game purchases take the form of traditional gambling, with world-famous soccer title FIFA having to introduce probability indicators to their pack system for players in recent years.
Titles such as Red Dead Redemption have also had great success in incorporating in-game gambling sessions like poker cuts.
Therefore, the current console market feels as though it is primed for a greater exposure to console gambling.
Just how popular is online gambling?
The state of NJ posted gambling revenues of just over $4.5 billion last year, suggesting that an NJ online casino, and all it has to offer, can more than hold its own with traditional console games. Industry research has shown that more and more players are choosing online gambling over the land-based alternative not just here, but around the world as well.
In the UK for example, over a third of total gambling revenues (including national lottery tickets etc) is made up by online casino sites. It is a trend that is mirrored in every other country or state with a licensed and legalised online industry.
Do gambling companies want to move to console?
There are very few industries throughout history that have shown such a willingness to embrace technology and move with the times as gambling has done. In the space of just over a century, the industry has gone from a backroom pursuit to a global phenomenon.
The key to gambling’s continued relevance has been its ability to adapt, change and improve itself. Two decades ago, the advent of online gambling was game changing for the industry, opening it up to a much wider audience and thus boosting its revenues.
Rather than sit back on that success and congratulate itself, the gambling industry is keener than ever before to improve. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested by online companies into pioneering virtual reality casinos.
The main barrier to the successful launch of a completely VR online casino is existing technology. Most players access sites either through their browser or streamlined mobile apps.
Currently, there is no way to align this technology to existing VR equipment AND provide an excellent customer experience. A partnership with a leading games console developer like Sony could change all of that though.
Online casinos, ever eager for progression, would have the perfect vehicle to design their own glamorous Las Vegas style virtual resorts. The question isn’t really whether online gambling companies would want to partner up with Sony, it is rather, would Sony want to partner up with them?
Why Sony would want to offer online gambling games
There is no doubt that right now, Sony is the biggest name in the console market, but that might not last forever. Microsoft are making bold leaps forward with their Xbox consoles and Google are also in the final stages of launching their bold and exciting new game streaming service, Stadia.
In order to maintain and preserve its market dominance, Sony is going to have to make some bold leaps of its own. Stepping into the online gambling market would certainly be one way to do that.
The demographic of console gamers is not as diverse and wide-ranging as you may think. Most players are male, and under the age of forty, which is perhaps the main reason that most console games are aimed at this market.
However, developers like Sony are keen to expand and capture the interest of other key demographics: older players, female gamers etc.
Online gambling games could be the perfect vehicle to introduce a brand-new demographic of players to the PlayStation 5. If Sony were to make this move before its competitors, it would guarantee market dominance in the short to medium term.
How would it work?
Currently you can enjoy web browser games on your PS4, but if you have ever tried this out yourself before, you will know that it is a painful experience. The browser capabilities on the PS4 are simply not as powerful as on PC or as streamlined as mobile devices.
The vast majority of web browser games and online casino sites out there require the user to install Adobe Flash prior to playing, something which simply cannot be done on current PlayStation devices.
If Sony are to go ahead with online gambling options on their newest console, there would have to be a significant improvement in the console’s browser capabilities.
What would make more sense though, would be specially designed gambling games that could be downloaded for free from the PlayStation Store. These could be designed by online gambling companies to perform on the PS5.
For console gambling to become a success in the future, this surely has to be the logical step taken by both Sony and trepid online gambling companies. The wait to find out will soon be over though, roll on Holiday season 2020.