John Caldwell: Why you should evolve the digital experience to suit the player.
Gaming Eminence grabs insight from no stranger to the gambling industry John Caldwell Co-Founder of recently launched i3Soft, as he gives us his thoughts on Web3 infrastructure, leveraging blockchain, NFTs, and where iGaming sits in comparison to the video game industry.
GE) It goes without saying that iGaming greatly benefitted from Web2 over the past 20 years. How would you outline to leading operators what the potential impact Web3 could have on their business if it becomes mainstream in the future? Alongside this, what approaches should operators begin taking within their internal infrastructure to get ahead of the curve as it relates to Web3?
JC) It really comes down to how operators deal with the customer. Things like shifting the ownership of data, assets and indeed even rethinking the identity of the customer themselves will need a serious look, and in most operator's cases, a rework.
At the core of Web3 is the idea of a digital identity that runs parallel to the customer’s real-world identity, while being clearly separate and distinct. This presents both opportunities and challenges as it relates to every aspect of gaming. From the more obvious things like KYC for onboarding to the more subtle things like how games can immerse this digital identity into virtual environments throughout the customer experience - not just in the game itself. The goal being to give the customer an experience catered to this ‘alter ego’, if you will while maintaining disciplined regulatory practices. Serving the customer *as* their digital identity will become a required skill.
GE) Game development is key within the industry and new technologies create the ability to constantly evolve the experience for the customer. What can be leveraged from blockchain and cryptocurrency in game development?
JC) By focusing on the digital identity I outlined in the above answer and facilitate this identity to do all the things a real-world customer could do and so much more. Let’s say the customer wants their virtual self to wear a specific, special/collectible jacket in their virtual casino experience. Facilitate that experience, both from a presentation and from a proof of ownership perspective. If the customer wants to take a break and go to the club in this virtual casino, make that a great experience while allowing that customer to provably show off their VIP credentials that their virtual identity owns. Much of that can be done server-side, but some of it requires blockchain. Use the blockchain for what it’s effective for and don’t force use cases just so you can say you’re using it.
GE) NFTs are a frequently debated topic with a split feeling they are riding the crypto wave vs those that believe it to be an innovative technology. Where do you see NFTs as a tool for operators to expand their customer base, increase revenues and enhance the player experience?
JC) NFTs will be a critical element in game development going forward. But the surface has only been scratched with respect to what NFTs and related technologies can do. The possibilities and opportunities within the metadata and dynamic elements of NFTs are plentiful.
We just need the industry to evolve past the ‘jpeg and a dream’ mentality of this technology and focus on what is possible--not dismiss NFTs like what happened to tokens and crypto in 2018 when token prices collapsed. So often in crypto, sentiment is tied to the state of the crypto trading markets.
GE) How do envision technology that is used to create modern-day video game experiences being able to cross over into the online casino industry? Do you feel the industry is up to speed with the growing expectation of gaming experience for up-and-coming generations?
JC) For sure the industry is not up to speed yet, but I’ve seen some things in recent months that make me think we’re moving in the right direction as an industry. If I was running a large gaming company, I would have someone on staff who did nothing but monitor and immerse themselves in the video game industry and find up-and-coming studios/games/technology that we as a business could incorporate, create, or buy.
The visual experience of many gambling products is largely unchanged from what it was 10, 12, or even 15 years ago. Because of its much larger access/customer base, the video game industry has rocketed past the gaming industry and that horse has left the barn. The gaming industry needs to catch up in terms of customer experience if it wants to attract a younger clientele.
About our contributor
John Caldwell’s career in gaming began when he started PokerNews.com in 2004. John was the CEO and Editor-In-Chief through the site’s first five years, leaving in 2009. John then took a Director position at PokerStars.com, serving on both the exec and marketing leadership teams at various times during his four years at the company. Since 2016, John has been at the forefront of creating blockchain and crypto tools for the gaming industry. In a prior life, John was in the music business as an artist manager and record label President, working with Stone Temple Pilots and Hootie & the Blowfish. Visit https://www.i3soft.io/