2020 will always be known as the year of COVID-19. It is an unprecedented global event that shook the world to its core. Many industries that were complacent and comfortable discovered that they are ill-prepared for such a crisis.
One industry that is fighting the tide with all its might is the digital gaming business. Online gaming has risen to prominence over the past decade offering an authentic gaming experience from the comfort of players’ homes. Now that the entire world is under lockdown, the iGaming sector is booming with skyrocketing numbers.
What is the problem?
Traditional online games attract millions of players and visitors. The gambling industry depends on feet through the casino doors, but the casinos don’t only offer attractions for the gamblers. eSports attract online gamers to casino venues as well. When COVID-19 hit, the first thing that happened was instant social distancing. Fewer feet through the door meant less revenue at the on-site casinos. Gamblers and gamers needed to take their gameplay online.
At the beginning of the outbreak, people would still risk the dangers and go out, but as governments imposed lockdowns, this too came to a halt. All bookmakers had to close their betting offices, and casinos followed suit. The challenge is staying profitable, and this was not coming from closed premises.
Products and Services
The online gaming community has a strong presence and will continue to thrive during the lockdown periods. As long as gamers have the necessary consoles and supporting hardware, they won’t miss out on their gaming and can still partake in the eSport scene. For offline sporting fans, online casinos offer virtual sports and fantasy sports that fill that adrenaline rush.
Punters who are used to watching live games have moved over to virtual sports for entertainment and to appease the gambling bug. Gamblers who enjoy games such as slots or blackjack are transitioning towards live casinos, where they are able to play a variety of games, and even practice their Video poker betting strategies.
Even if gamers don’t have a specific console, there are many online gaming opportunities that can be accessed from a PC. As long the gamer has an internet connection, and strong enough graphics card, they are likely to be able to play most online games.
Safety and Security
The online gaming industry has a very high standard when it comes to graphics and security features. The aim is to give players an aesthetically pleasing but safe experience when playing online. With the advancement of mobile apps, the market is open for anyone who has an internet connection.
Players concerned about security can put their minds at ease. The big gaming companies such as Blizzard Entertainment have strict security features in place. SSL is present on the website to ensure the integrity of data, along with that there are authentication protocols that are followed for added safety of account details.
Online gaming expert Eliasz Nowak warns that with the coronavirus causing a spike in online gambling, online casinos and sportsbooks need to extra vigilant when it comes to the security of online players. This extends to the eSports sectors as well. The criminal element is also under lockdown, and opportunistic thieves will be looking for ways to defraud anyone transacting online.
Can the Tech Handle it?
If you look at the online gaming statistics worldwide, you will see that for 2020 there are approximately 2.6 billion gamers worldwide. Those figures were expected to increase to 2.725 billion in the year 2021. The online gambling industry statistics are just as impressive. Around 26% of the world's population gamble, that's about 1.6 billion people.
These stats were researched before the Coronavirus pandemic, and we can only assume that these figures might need to be readjusted to include new gamers that would have joined during the lockdown period.
The question arises, is the online gaming industry able to handle such volumes? Even the best business analysts couldn't have predicted the health crisis and did not anticipate people being forced to stay at home. Online gaming operators have servers and companies which help them with the volumes of players online at any given time.
The developers created the systems for an estimated amount of users. Playing online requires the gamer to have a fast enough internet and good enough graphics to be able to play online.
If a server is designed for 100,000 users, and spikes to 300,000 users, this might cause systems to crash. Technical issues may arise, which could cause glitches in games and cause havoc with players' accounts. This could create serious concerns for the security of financial transactions and account hacking.
It will be a battle between developers and internet providers. At the end of the pandemic, the winner will be the online operator who has invested time and money into reputable developers and service providers. The investment into top quality companies will be rewarded with gamers that will keep playing even after COVID-19 has dissipated.
COVID-19 is not a wisp of air; it is a tornado that has ripped through the medical safety nets of the world. Populations have been forced to change their perspective on health, employment and the value of life.
Industries who have not embraced the digital age will find themselves cut off from markets. The gaming industry has, for many years been offering online services. This leap of faith into the digital age is what will help it weather this crisis.