My guess is you’ve been hearing for at least a couple years about the massive opportunity in the crypto gaming market. I can tell you the opportunity is very real — well into the billions of dollars. But the single biggest learning for me over the past three years spent at the center of the intersection of digital currency and regulated gaming is that the crypto gaming customer is different.
The culture of crypto is different. Crypto people are, by definition, a group of people with a higher risk tolerance than most. If you’re still unsure, a glance at the 12 month price chart of Bitcoin should suffice. If that doesn’t do it, go ahead and take a look at the 90 day chart for YFI.
Holding crypto is, in and of itself, a bet and a vote against the traditional financial system. These folks aren’t interested in the way banks operate. Traditional banking (and I would argue traditional gaming) is going to have to adapt to gain these customers’ business.
The younger audience loves to gamble. With Gen Z entering into gaming age, these people are the first generation raised on digital devices. They think differently and process information at a much quicker pace than prior generations.
I remember being blown away a couple years ago when I toured esports giant Team Liquid’s facility. The players and coach were reviewing their latest League of Legends match, and breaking down and analysing the play and their reaction times in milliseconds, taking particular note of one player’s reaction in a complex situation that was 8 milliseconds or 8/1,000ths of a second slower.
This increased risk tolerance also lends itself to another factor. The value of the players themselves is much higher. Bitcoin gaming honcho Tim Heath said in a recent interview that the average bet in their sportsbook was €242.
So, the challenge is — how to acquire and maintain these customers in a way that is healthy for the bottom line, and keeps you compliant.
The typical crypto customer skews a bit younger, is an inherent risk taker, and has a mind that processes information extremely quickly. They can’t be bothered with complicated on and off ramps, won’t be as fallible to traditional bonus offerings, and have zero tolerance for any kind of trickery or shenanigans when it comes to how they interact with the businesses they deal with.
This rewards companies that truly embrace crypto users. I am reminded of a panel I was on at a gaming conference a little over a year ago. A senior executive at a big gaming company who was vehemently anti-crypto proclaimed loudly that ‘we have embraced crypto users, and no one uses it’. I had gone to their site prior to the panel and it took me eleven clicks to get to the page to fund via crypto.
To be fair, a lot has changed in the last year, and specifically the last six months. About a month ago, I watched an online panel with some heavy hitters in the payments sphere of our business. The panel looked at alternative payment methods, and when asked about the future of the space, the panelists were all in agreement: crypto.
This is in such a stark contrast to when I walked around at ICE in 2017 to talk about crypto. You could see people’s eyes glass over, if they were even keeping eye contact and not scanning the room for who else was about. I’m not complaining; in fact I find it refreshing and inspiring.
It strikes me that the online industry is entering a phase not unlike what the land based industry (especially in America) has been going through over the past fifteen years. How to get more young people in the door, and how to keep them interested. Some pretty radical stuff has been tried over the past few years by land based casinos, and I suspect the same will be the case for the online industry in the next few years.
The crypto gambler is a high value player who likes a gamble and wants it fast and simple.
Digital identity and digital currencies are an inevitability in our business, and indeed in the broader society. Crypto gamblers will give the business they deal with outsized returns, and be loyal to those embracing the space. They just need the approach made in a way that speaks their language, makes sense to them, and cuts all unnecessary steps out.