“When it comes to online poker or online casino gaming software – look to the future, not to the past”
By Steve Karoul
This next comment is going to age me a bit, but I remember when the first Atari pong game was all the rage. This in my opinion was the beginning of the video gaming phenomenon as we know it today. A simple game box hooked to your TV created the first in-home video game, which now meant that we no longer had to go to our local bowling alley or video arcades store to play.
We’ve come a long way in such a short period of time (40 years). Since the invention of the TV around 1927 we have seen an explosion of new technology, which allowed us to leave the mechanical age and entered the age of technology. During the next 20 years, thousands of video and action games have been created, which meant we could play from home, work and when we wanted to play. Less than 20 years later, the Gameboy mobile game left the TV behind and you could travel anywhere with your hand held video gaming device.
The technology revolution, as it became known, also provided us with the opportunity to have more free time. As technology advanced we used our free time in many ways with one “human constant” that ran through all our “free time” activities; the need to communicate and socialize with others. In a similar vein, Casino gambling has left the confines of Las Vegas or Atlantic City and has exploded across to Indian reservations and into almost every State in America and continues to expand globally.
We also continued to evolve as players and now turn to gaming on the Internet with computers, tablets and mobile devices. “Social gaming” has become a new phrase which defines the offering of a gaming experience as well as a socialization aspect offered across the social networks, such as facebook. New games have been developed which allow chatting in real-time or blogging of your ideas and allowing others to respond practically in real-time as well as in the future, thus fulfilling our need to communicate and be part of something lager then ourselves.
Looking back, the growth of the social gaming marketplace has been nothing short of phenomenal. The social gaming market generated revenues of US$76 million in 2008, US$639 million in 2009, and a predicted US$826 million in 2010 (Caoili, 2010). SuperData expects the global social gaming industry to grow to $12bn in 2015, with casino style games representing 22% of this growth. (Morgan Stanley, 2012). In other words, social gaming represents Big Money.
It appears these new markets are still in an embryonic stage. Regulatory actions have not kept up with the explosion of various offerings. A convergence of the social gaming industry and the gambling industry seems inevitable. Like the technology of the past, these industries are also changing very rapidly and an understanding of what to look for becomes even more critical, if you are in the market to buy or license social gaming or real money casino gaming software.
As computers, tablets and mobile devices get smarter and faster, game developers who have utilizes older programming languages and technology platforms will be faced with challenges of how to make their games operate seamlessly across many browsers or devices, try to limit security and vulnerability issues , all while trying to keep the cost of development down.
One of the most popular programming languages for game developers in the last five years has been Flash. Flash games make up a large part of the online games played today. Flash is powerful and it is also very visual so it looks “flashy” or pretty in the eyes of the viewer.
When Adobe, the creator of Flash technology, made a surprise announcement about Flash’s vulnerabilities back in November, 2011, it almost killed further development of Flash for mobile platforms. This caused a major disruption in the development industry causing many companies that were focused on Flash to change their programming direction and focus on HTML5 (The Guardian.com 2011).
From a security standpoint, this was like opening the hen-house doors to the fox, because HTML5 has even more vulnerabilities as Flash ever did and did nothing to stop the intrusive nature of the downloading procedures, which are practically universal with all game players.
The fact that .Net and Flash were the basis of many of the successful social games is now giving way to the next generation of new software, which will allow games to be served across all browsers, mobile and tablet devices alike. By eliminating Flash, HTML5 and the security holes associated with it, today’s new gaming software with additional built in security can be more effectively utilized in social gaming applications and eventually in online gaming, once the federal gambling regulations pass either nationally or within each US State.
If you’re looking into license or purchasing some type of online games software, my advice is to proceed with caution when it comes to gaming software that has been developed in older programing languages.
Today’s purchaser of games, especially the new Play for Fun and Play for Money gambling games, need to be aware when purchasing older technology while appearing to fulfill their immediate needs comes with the risk that they may be stuck in the implementation phase for an extended period of time.
Having to modify programing languages to keep up with technology and security standards may end up being very costly and time consuming, which means that your business may lose customers, who want a quality and entertaining user experience without wait or interruption.
If you or someone you know is thinking about making a decision to either license or buy some sort of social gaming or gambling software, be absolutely sure that you check under the hood and know exactly what you are getting “before” committing your company and maybe your career to a larger risk than you are prepared for.
Here are some of the things that you may want to lookout for:
– Don’t tie yourself to a gaming platform that just looks good – make sure you look to see what development languages and framework were used, so you can insure long-term growth.
– Just because a game development company has invested a lot of time, money, and research into technologies, doesn’t mean that their games will offer a secure and value added user experience in the future. Some games take years to develop and when they are ready to go live, the devices may already have surpassed the programing language that which the game was built on.
– How many clients is the game developer servicing? If you are just another number, then how is your product offering going to be different than the others who bought or licensed the software games.
– Security concerns – all software has its vulnerabilities on matter if it’s a .exe, Flash or HTML5. But a recent alert from security vendor Sophos stated that HTML5 provides far more access to the computer’s resources than its flash, offering capabilities like location awareness, local data storage, graphics rendering and system information queries that are built-in and quite powerful. In layman’s terms, if you use Flash or HTML5 games, hacker can get access to all sorts of personal information on the user, not to mention your game source code.
Also, be wary of “Online Gaming Consultants”. That is a new term today but many of these so called online gaming consultants are not software developers and therefore they may be nothing more than “online sales-people” trying to sell you a product. One additional fallacy today is the big does not necessarily mean better. There are some very large well-established online gaming companies that are operating very successfully. The problem is that they are still operating with older software that has not been updated due to the high costs involved to rewrite or develop totally new code from what they may be using.
So, just like buying a car, look under the hood and find a qualified mechanic to advise you properly before purchasing. There are lots of lemons out there today both with cars and with online gaming software. I recently found a great online poker and online casino software developer whom I think is fantastic in case you or your company needs a solid recommendation.
(Please feel free to forward to people in your network or your company if you think that they will benefit from my educational articles. Cheers….Steve Karoul)