The evolution of traditional scratch cards into electronic scratch cards has come a long way since their first appearance some 14 years ago. Then, a ‘match 3' was considered state of the art. Today, the prize structures and jackpot levels remain key factors in choosing which games to play, but increasingly, importance is placed on developing engaging, memorable and more personalised content. These factors combine to evolve a players experience and entertainment, thereby encouraging repeat levels of play. Electronic scratch cards are no longer seen as purely an online complement to retail scratch cards, but rather as stand-alone games in their own right.

This evolution has not happened in isolation, gaming has seen a significant shift in the past ten years. It has become a social pastime, with players collaborating in common goals and celebrating their wins collectively. Microsoft and Sony are not successful just because of the quality of their games and the skill based environment they have created, but also because of the social engagement.

The evolution of electronic scratch cards has had positive knock on effects for the industry. Traditionally these games have appealed to lottery and bingo players, but as their complexity and entertainment levels have grown, segments dominated by slots and casino games have increasingly been diversifying and adding this game content. Games no longer mimic the retail experience. The trend of developing characters, brand association and stories have widened the audience and attracted interest in the younger generations.

An average online scratch card can last between 20 and 40 seconds. The content is designed to entertain and encourage replays which extends a player’s time on an operator site providing cross promotional opportunities. Games can also feature as bonus content for other games. This shift in style has two business advantages. For the traditional markets of lottery and bingo, it appeals to a younger audience who prefer skill based games, and for the sportsbook and casino operators it provides new content and monetisation opportunities.

Previously, platform providers were reluctant to invest valuable time or resources to integrate non-core electronic scratch titles due to the untested payback models. However, specialist content aggregations, such as Twelve40, have created specific licenced delivery platforms for this content. These specialist service providers enable platform providers and operators to quickly and seamlessly gain access to content through a simple API integration, saving months of work and eliminating risk. It is also possible to reskin existing games so that they are unrecognisable from the original, providing cost effect access to bespoke content whether for a specific tournament, event or market segment.

These specialist platforms are constantly developing new player mechanics, ensuring that their developers have access to the latest environments for their games and themes. By being focused on the sector, developer innovation is encouraged, with creative inspiration often driven from the changing requirements and demands of the client base, resulting in advanced social and engagement features and flexible payments.

As with any market, innovation is critical. Across the industry there is a definite move towards online play in this sector, mobile in particular. Whilst the main features of a game include the prize and the number of near wins that result in a positive experience, future success will depend on personalisation, rich content, social features and sharing. We are already seeing this trend drive significant revenue for our clients.