Bingo and Emulating Realism: Is it Necessary?

Just about every service that can do it has moved online over the past decade, making high-street versions of banks, clothes stores, and electronics outlets an increasingly rare attraction on the high street. The entertainment began this journey many years ago, around the time video game developers started selling download codes instead of physical packages. Apart from hold-outs like cinemas, the transition to online-only seems to be very much complete. 

Less-physical Premises

Casino and bingo establishments also began an early shift to the pixels of a web browser, beginning with a real-money poker site in 1998 – although, Business Insider notes that this was quite late in the development of the internet. The industry is now largely unrecognisable from the street-bound attraction it was during the 1980s and 1990s. Yet, it retains something of a hybrid identity, somewhere between a bricks-and-mortar fascination and an industry native to mobile apps. Retaining the vibe of real-life locations has always been a challenge to overcome for websites, though.

Photo: Lina Kivaka

One of the biggest developments in this area has been live bingo, which is one of the newest additions to bingo websites. These special game lobbies feature a bingo caller on a webcam, who can respond to player questions and even their achievements. As online bingo is already quite a social experience, due to the availability of chat functions, this live element brings it that little bit closer to the club atmosphere of its formative years. Of course, mimicking the offline world isn’t all there is to the internet game. 

The extra freedom and reduced overheads granted by less-physical premises have left room for experimentation. The Buzz Bingo website has developed new themes for its games that aren’t traditionally associated with the casino aesthetic. The Rainbow Riches slot is a good example. This game borrows from Irish mythology to create a game filled with rainbows, leprechauns, and pots of gold. What differentiates it from other slots are its bonus games, of which, it has three.

The Offline Reality

This obvious question is whether online bingo has to emulate its offline cousin to remain successful. Granted, realism is nice in every form of entertainment but the internet-based game is different for a reason. The reason banks went online is the same reason bingo did, too – convenience. As high street bingo still exists, it’s fair to assume that customers actually want two distinct products, rather than one that apes another. Still, there’s no denying that club bingo has been in decline, recently. 

Photo: Inga Seliverstova

As far as realism is concerned, there doesn’t seem to be much more that web bingo can do to bring itself closer to offline reality, short of adopting virtual reality lobbies. Operators seem to have switched their focus to providing added value. Elements like Rainbow Riches’ bonus games, free spins, and free (or inexpensive) bingo are designed to keep players coming back time and again. This is something that Hubspot describes as customer retention. Offline, this is achieved via the regular community that bingo tends to attract.