The US has become a major player in recent decades, with many of today’s top titles originating from studios in North America. Alongside industry stalwarts like Electronic Arts (EA) and Rockstar Games, Disney and Warner Bros have used their reputations within the world of entertainment to build successful gaming empires.

Outside of North America, Europe has also forged its own reputation within the gaming world. Although it may not be a stronghold like the US, the UK is home to a small but well-qualified collection of developers. Codemasters stands out as one of the most successful thanks to hits such as Colin McRae Rally and Brian Lara Cricket. However, a surprising area of growth for European gaming is its casino products.

Online Casino Gaming Boom Reshapes the Industry

Despite being a subsector of the “gaming industry” as a whole, the online casino market is currently worth more than $51 billion, according to Statista. On its own, that’s impressive. However, when you take into account the ongoing synergy between video and casino games, the latter’s revenue is helping to take the former’s $152 billion value beyond the $200 billion mark.

What’s more, the rise in popularity of online casino games is changing the face of the industry as a whole. Social gaming takes what real money online casinos offer and transforms it into a free-play product. For example, inside Slots Of Vegas online casino, video poker products such as Joker Poker provide a fast-paced way to play for ever-increasing jackpots worth six figures or more. By striking a balance between skill (i.e. knowing which cards to play), luck and timing, video poker has become a staple at sites like Slots of Vegas.

Evolution Prompts Shift in Focus

Taking these core concepts, social casino developers such as Zynga have a library of games that are alternatives inspired by the gambling sector. This dynamic is important as it’s the thing that’s taken the industry full circle in recent years. Although regulations vary across Asia, the continent has a long-standing love of casino games. Casino classics such as baccarat originated in Asia and still stand as one the region’s top picks.

Beyond that, blackjack, roulette, poker and even bingo are popular casino-style games in Japan, China, Singapore and beyond. Because of this deep-rooted love of gambling and, in turn, gaming, social gaming is starting to thrive in Asia. In fact, such is the growing significance of the industry in Asia that it’s become a point of analysis for the streaming platform Play2Live. According to the stats, Asia-Pacific countries now generate 52% of global games revenue.

New Ways for Asians to Play

Naturally, China is the largest market, with revenue in 2018 topping $38 billion. From there, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and a host of other countries are embracing games like never before. One of the primary drivers of growth is social gaming. For example, locals in places such as China are drawn to free-play options available on Tencent, illustrating that this trend has also encouraged more Asian gamers onto mobile-friendly game products.

Because many of the leading social gaming companies have a mobile-first focus, a large number of casino-style games are popular among smartphone users. Delving into the data, Chartboost’s Fiona Ferrier found that Asia-Pacific is now the world’s highest-spending app market. Again, China is driving the region’s spend with almost 500 million users spending $12 billion a year on mobile games. Alongside NetEase, Tencent has claimed 70% market share in China.

Gaming Goes back Home

In essence, what we’re seeing right now is the evolution of gaming. In the early days, Asia was the center of the industry and dealt exclusively in video games. However, as other regions have entered the mix, lines have been blurred and playing preferences have changed. For a time, the US was regarded as the leading gaming market both in terms of production and consumption. That shift, combined with the growth of online casino gaming in Europe, changed the market.

Today, Asian countries have reasserted their dominance by embracing the latest trends and making them their own. Although video games remain a foundation, new players are bringing a modern twist to the market. That has not only given locals access to different styles of game but generated a whole new source of revenue for developers. Moreover, it’s reinvigorated Asia’s love of gaming and made it the industry leader once again.