Attracting, appeasing and appealing to the millennial generation is arguably the biggest challenge presently facing the casino industry.
The general consensus among this group is that current casino offerings lack the interaction, depth and social rewards to hold their attention.
To overcome this obstacle, a shift towards games more in tune with those widely available on computer consoles seems on the horizon.
And it may come as a surprise that one man at the forefront of creating games with the potential of becoming a hit on the casino floor is Steve Aoki.
Aoki is best known as one of the world’s biggest DJs, while he is also the owner of a record label, a clothing line and a collection of restaurants.
What may be less known is that he is the co-owner of the Las Vegas-based eSports organisation Rogue, which has teams competing in popular titles including Call Of Duty and Overwatch.
The Grammy award-nominated producer has spoken of how he has played computer games since being a child, even now carrying a games console with him when travelling on the road doing tours and sets.
Yet, Aoki had struggled to find an avenue into the market to branch out his business empire further.
However, this changed following visits to gaming conventions, where opportunities arose to take more than a passing interest in the eSports industry, which is significantly growing in terms of its commercial and mainstream appeal.
Alongside his involvement with Rogue, Aoki has also partnered with skill-based video game gambling company GameCo in the development of a new title.
This made sense as when he plays the likes of Call Of Duty on the road, he is playing with friends and constantly making stupid side bets, whether it be for cash or completing a certain number of push ups in a minute.
The game mechanics
In an interview with US magazine Inc., Aoki described his Neon Future concept as “the idea of how science fiction is becoming science fact”, releasing his Neon Future I album in 2014 and then Neon Future II in the following year.
And drawing on this concept is clearly noticeable in the game Steve Aoki’s Neon Dream.
It is described as an infinite runner-style game where players have to progress through an endlessly-moving virtual racetrack. Along the way numerous tasks have to be completed.
The start sees players having to decide on how much they want to stake on their game attempt.
Different stakes allow for different achievements. Most notably, there are three alternate progressive jackpots to be played for.
The Mega jackpot can only be won by players betting the maximum stake, which is the same model typically used with slot machines. The Maxi jackpot can be won by staking one rung down the betting ladder and another rung down offers the Mini jackpot.
Wagering at the lower end of the scale still offers prizes, but no jackpots.
Once starting the game, the task is for players to score points and it is their final points total that determines whether they win or not and the size of their prize.
Points are achieved by collecting music records and tiles, while avoiding any obstacles placed on the track. Collect a gold record and earn one point, while a blue Aoki tile is worth 10 points.
Reach a particular points threshold to earn a cash pay out. Obviously, the more checkpoints passed, the greater the pay day. There is also a time limit in which to achieve as many points as possible.
As well as the bright colours and shapes, music is a key component of the game.
Various house and electronic dance music songs blast out in the background to accompany the gameplay. These are all from Aoki’s Dim Mak label and include Every Night by Ghastly and Lose My Mind by Big Fish & Kende.
Unlike many modern gaming consoles, players don’t use a d-pad or analog sticks to steer their way around the track.
Instead, a joystick is required and movements have to be very precise, especially as players gain speed as they progress further into the levels and up the pay scale.
In a separate interview with Gamesbeat, Aoki stated: “Jumping into this and doing something that redefines gaming and gambling is a natural fit as I live in Vegas and work in nightclubs in the casinos.”
He added that endless runners were his favourite type of mobile game and that he wanted to create something where skill was a critical element. The opportunity to gamble and win real money also brought a new layer over other games.
There’s a strong likelihood that this won’t be the last time that Aoki has an involvement in a game appealing to millennials earmarked for a place on the casino floor.