Yes, I am a self-confessed digital lover! Read into that what you will!
I have been committed to the cause since Games Media had the foresight and the guts to the try to move the pub offer from analogue to digital. They put their reputation on the line and worked with a handful of like-minded retailers and individuals to create change.
It wasn’t easy. The naysayers were deep down happy with the status quo. Income was good. Tenure was stable. New analogue machines were a-plenty every month and injection was a bunfight. It was easier not to do anything. Retailers were achieving budgets. Why change at all?
What was changing was society and telecoms; influencing the way we interact; and the way we socialise with each other. Everything was moving towards on-line, the pace of life was speeding up and the consumer was being given access to more and more digital gaming choices. Bingo. Betting. Inplay gambling and of course, the gift that keeps on giving, FOBTs.
It used to be an event that the installers would arrive at the pub and haul in the new machine and unceremoniously remove the old model. The customer and the tenant would see this as an event and either engage with the installer or play it as soon as they left. It was often accompanied by some POS promoting high payout and value for money.
Some managed retailers offered high chairs, table service and encouraged their managers to get to know their players. Some still do.
Core and casual players alike would try their luck and invest in learning the game; ultimately beating it and taking their spoils. The next machine would be eagerly awaited and the ritual would start again.
Creating a gaming event with a digital platform is not as easy. Yes, there are attract modes; free plays, top flashes and immersive sound, but they are not as visible because they are not as disruptive.
That said, digital gaming is not devoid of opportunity in creating a gaming event. With the advent of CITO/TITO, the role of the tenant and their interaction with the player will change and will offer more points of contact with the customer; more opportunity to converse outside of the cocoon that is social media; and the greatest opportunity of all to congratulate the player. Customers like personal recognition and to feel like an individual. Celebration for players should not be public, but the added reward of a complimentary drink or Cornish pasty to say well done creates a hugely beneficial event and engenders loyalty.
The move to digital; the implementation of CITO/TITO and cashless payment systems; and the legal use of player data offers a revitalised way of communicating and creating gaming events to tenants and pubcos. It’s going to be a new world!