This year’s edition of the largest European fair for the gaming industry – ICE Totally Gaming 2018 – held in London on February 6-8th, was by far the most amazing and spectacular ever. The ROMBET delegation, present at the exhibition as partner of the organizer, but also as a representative of its members and the entire local industry, has noticed many new trends and changes compared to the past years.
Over 600 continental or global gambling companies, manufacturers, service providers, software and hardware companies, etc. No less than 43.500 m2 of exhibition space, fully occupied!
A real record! We have noticed the increasing quality of the marketing process, with companies striving to promote industry-leading innovations, products and services alongside traditional products and services … “reinvented”. As Kate Chambers, Managing Director of ICE Totally Gaming, said, “if there’s anything new in gambling, you’ll certainly find it at ICE2018!”
The approximately 40-50.000 visitors were certainly not disappointed.
For any company representative, there was something interesting, from the giant booths of the global colossus – over 1,000m2 and with costs … to measure up to their fame! – to niche businesses with services and products serving a particular market segment.
“ICE Totally Gaming is not an exhibition, it’s a real health marathon of the industry. Inside such a brilliant, beneficial and hopeful environment as the London exhibition offers year after year, you cannot help seeing how good is the path that the industry took on. I think we are one of the fastest-growing businesses which understood the progress, but also the benefits of technology. Everything that is pioneering today, tomorrow almost becomes mainstream in the gaming industry, from slot machines to online gambling, virtual sports and sports betting. This new type of mainstream is like a wave if you’re on top of it, you’ll get far.
If you avoid or resist, it overwhelms you. We were glad to see a consolidated Romanian business presence at ICE2018 which constitutes proof that we know how to interpret these signals and trends of the global industry. It is good for Romania”, said Mr. Dan Ghită, President of ROMBET.
In an overwhelming crowd where you had the chance to meet CEOs of top companies, sports stars, thousands of sales and marketing representatives, all with excellent business moods, we noticed this year’s dominance of the slot machines segment. The technology brings to market high-priced machines, comparable to those of limousines, high-performance screens. As a matter of fact, the curved 4k screen seems to become a rule in the production of new generation slot machines.
“It’s very interesting to see how manufacturers respect their customers according to their geographical preferences. The North American market is invaded by touch-enabled devices, while for this part of Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, colorful buttons and cabinets are still attractive.
Some wish for something new, some prefer to stick to the traditional.
We’ve also witnessed the so-called branded game invasion, when the producer associates with a production house – usually from Hollywood – to create game-based concepts based on Marvell, Paramount, Warner Bros. and so on The characters of action hero movie are virtually everywhere, not just in cinema halls. This only reinforces the idea that gambling is almost entirely a means of entertainment, offering more content and interaction, not just the result of an expectation”, says Mr. Bogdan Coman, ROMBET Executive Director.
ICE Totally Gaming 2018 recorded many premieres. One particularly noted was the growing presence of payment processors, a clear sign that the universe of gambling is over-migrating and expanding online. “Crypto currency, with its advantages and risks, monopolizes the general discussion these days. Beyond the norms and legal barriers, there are more and more voices warning about possible “bubble” symptoms, which would bring down, in the first place, the investments of tens of millions of people. But the effects could also be seen on our industry: the controversy always brings risks and the back-up possibilities are quite limited, from what I saw in the ICE2018 presentations”, says Mr. Anchidim Zăgrean, vice president of ROMBET.
Another premiere, this year, was the presence of Chinese companies and, implicitly, of Asian-specific games. Just as Chinese investments in Europe are visible on many levels – infrastructure, real estate, industry – this is how we see the already strong growth of a global gambling business-to-business center. At this edition there were at least four huge pavilions with slot machines and online games that feature the Asian market. The first “blockchain casino” concepts begin to emerge, and games that combine virtual reality (VR) with classical and augmented reality (AR) are more and more numerous. An example is “live dealer VR” type of game: the player wears VR goggles, and inside the game there are events from the traditional reality overlapping with those from AR.
In conclusion, a huge event.
And this due to what it has shown, through its ability to bring together, for three days, the best and the newest in the world in the gaming industry and how it generates inspiration and energy for another 12 months!