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LAN Parties: Revival and Evolution in 2023

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In the early 2000’s, LAN (Local Area Network) parties made up a large part of what some call the golden age of gaming. But as Wifi connections became stronger and cheaper, multiplayer gaming moved online, and LAN parties took a step back from the limelight.

Even though they may seem extinct to some, there’s still a strong LAN scene. With Insomnia the Gaming Festival taking place from the 7th to the 10th of September, domain and hosting experts, and event guest, Fasthosts, wanted to explore the current state of LAN parties in 2023, rounding up some of the biggest events taking place worldwide.

Originating in the 70s, it wasn’t until the turn of the millennium that LAN parties became the driving social gatherings of the gamer community. It was common to see teens transferring their heavy setups to friends’ houses to revel in hours worth of gameplay in bunker-like basements and dated living rooms. LAN parties were the first true form of multiplayer gaming and involved each player to BYOC (Bring our Own Computer), and gather together in the same physical location and connect their computers or consoles to play offline LAN-compatible games.

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Nowadays, most game servers no longer support LAN connections. Nonetheless, informal small “friendly” events take place across the world alongside larger tournaments. Interestingly, they have witnessed a shift by partially merging with the competitive world of eSports. Many tournaments recognise the appeal and importance of keeping their novelty alive, and have incorporated social gaming, and BYOC areas where participants can enjoy more casual playing sessions with friends or acquaintances.

With their rich cultural history and nostalgia, they are still enjoyed by avid gamers worldwide and bridge the gap between the past and present world of gaming. In fact, there are plenty of events that promote LAN style gaming and casual play – here are some of the largest events that are reviving the classic spirit of gaming:

Insomnia the Gaming Festival (UK)

Insomnia is the biggest gaming festival in the UK. Each year it hosts eSport competitions, meet and greets, cosplay, and gaming-related events. Insomnia are hosting their i7i LAN party on the 10/09 where you can compete in tournaments or friendly battles.

QuakeCon (USA)

QuakeCon is an annual video game convention that takes place in Texas. It is primarily centred around id software’s game, especially the Quake series. It will be the first in-person event since 2019, and it is said that this year’s convention will bring greater emphasis to the BYOC side of the event.

LanTrek (Finland)

LanTrek is an annual gaming event that started in 2001. Aimed at all young people interested in computers, consoles, board games and gaming, it features competitive tournaments, exhibition areas, and a BYOC option where individuals can enjoy casual gaming with their friends.

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The Gathering (Norway)

The gathering takes place in April of each year in the Viking Ship in Hamar. As Norway’s biggest computing event, they celebrate Easter with games, eSport competition, lectures, and concerts. It is also run entirely by volunteers and non-profit organisations.

Dreamhack (Worldwide)

Dreamhack is one of the largest LAN party and gaming festivals globally. It started in Sweden but soon popped up in various other locations, including the US, France, India, and Spain. Each event combines eSports, LAN gaming, concerts, meet and greets and more.

Gamers Assembly (France)

Unlike others on this list, Gamers Assembly is solely a LAN gaming event. Organised by the FutuoLAN association it attracts thousands of players each year looking to take part in the tournaments from popular eSport titles to more niche selections.

Assembly (Finland)

The biggest gaming convention in Finland, it attracts an average of 30,000 participants every event. Centred around gaming, eSports and digital culture, for the summer 23 edition, Assembly announced their largest ever LAN area to date.

PAX (USA & Australia)

PAX takes place in numerous locations around the US and Australia. Although primarily a gaming event it offers a BYOC/community playing option alongside other fun features such as talks, game demos, concerts, and tournaments.

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Industry News

Getting Sticky with It: Why Affiliate Traffic Should be About Quality Not Quantity

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In a highly competitive “bonus blitzing” affiliate market, the only real winner is the bonus hunter. These affiliates may be sending traffic through to their partners in volume, but many of their users are just looking to play through a good deal, never to return.

At Slots Temple, we believe the “stack ‘em high, watch ‘em fly” approach to aggressive bonus-driven traffic no longer flies. We wanted to focus on improving the quality of the traffic and that meant doing things differently.

We began life as a site that offered free demo games and slots tournaments, and this helped to build a highly engaged base of players that genuinely loved playing slots. But we wanted to take this to the next level.

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When we were awarded a UKGC gambling license in 2022, it meant we could offer cash prizes for our free tournaments. And then the next logical step was real-money tournaments in the UK with juiced-up prize pools, and ultimately real-money slots.

To create better quality traffic, you need to engage with your customers to better understand them and foster loyalty. It helps if you have a unique value proposition to increase the stickiness of your brand and engage audiences more effectively.

Our real money tournaments are a real UVP and are proving wildly popular with our users. The stakes we offer are low. You can play a slots tournament for as little as 1p, and the free-play model remains a large part of what we do – exclusively so outside the UK.

Ultimately, we want to be a safe place for players, which is why offering low stakes games is important. It’s about fostering a player base that trusts us and feels comfortable playing with us.

Yes, we’re blurring the lines between affiliate and operator, but our players know we’re not just chasing profits at the expense of everything else. Ultimately, our players see us primarily as a destination for fun play and prizes, and it’s important that we maintain that balance. If they thought we were simply out to rinse them, we’d lose their trust, and they wouldn’t come back.

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Instead, it’s about offering more choice and increasing that stickiness. It also helps us better understand what games our players like to play so that we can offer more personalized recommendations.

And this is how real-money slots tournaments can really increase the quality of traffic. If a player has been playing a certain slot in a real-money tournament, for example, and wants to play at a partner site, we can guarantee that we are referring a player who is already highly engaged with the game and is ready to transition to higher stakes.

Of course, within the framework of real-money tournaments, it’s important to continue diversifying offerings by devising new formats. We have turbo tournaments, risk tournaments — a multitude of formats and price points so everyone can play the way they want to.

Our real-money tournaments are further enhanced by what was always a highly gamified platform. So, we have leaderboards, Xpoints, rewards chests, and challenges.

Continuous challenges, incentives and rewards keep users engaged over the long term. These elements can appeal to users’ competitive nature and desire for achievement, as they play for bragging rights. This enhances social elements and encourages them to engage frequently with the product

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Adding fun and playful elements enhances the user experience beyond the tournaments themselves. Regular rewards and recognition prevent burnout and keep users motivated. And engaged and motivated players are more likely to become passionate about the brand.

Creating a player base that produces true value to your affiliate partners requires a number of the right ingredients, plus a lot of care and attention. But the affiliate landscape is changing, and affiliates need to get creative to get sticky.

 

Author: Fraser Linkleter, CEO at Slots Temple

The post Getting Sticky with It: Why Affiliate Traffic Should be About Quality Not Quantity appeared first on European Gaming Industry News.

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ESPN Bet

Penn Entertainment to Lay Off About 100 Employees

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Penn Entertainment plans to lay off about 100 employees as it focuses on growth for ESPN Bet.

CEO Jay Snowden told staff members in an internal email that the changes will enhance operational efficiencies following its 2021 acquisition of Canadian media and gaming powerhouse theScore.

The company employs about 20,000 people.

“When PENN acquired theScore, we hit the ground running with the build-out of our proprietary tech stack and the migration of our sportsbook to theScore’s best-in-class-platform,” Snowden wrote in the memo. “This led us to temporarily set aside any potential organizational changes that would typically follow a major acquisition.”

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Penn went on to say it’s embarking on a new phase of growth in its interactive business, which includes ESPN Bet, a $2 billion branding partnership with Disney’s ESPN. Snowden said the initiatives include product enhancements and deeper integration into ESPN’s ecosystem.

Investors are impatient for Penn to demonstrate its muscle with the rebranded sportsbook, and activist investor Donerail Group has called on the board to sell the casino company.

Rumors have swirled about the potential interest from many other online gaming and brick-and-mortar casino companies.

Truist gaming analyst Barry Jonas wrote in a note Thursday that a sale is unlikely in the near term because of the complexity of a transaction that would likely involve major divestitures.

Penn’s release of new ESPN Bet features this fall during football season should meaningfully improve its product, Jonas said, and a focus on costs indicate the company’s commitment to seeing its investment yield results.

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Penn shares have plummeted 25% year to date. It has missed earnings expectations the last two quarters and lowered guidance.

“Investors continue to wonder what an ESPN Bet success could look like, and how much more investment (beyond what’s guided) it’ll take to reach,” Jonas notes.

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Industry News

iDenfy Launches New AI-powered Utility Bill Verification Tool

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iDenfy, a Lithuania-based identity verification and fraud prevention software provider, has launched its new automated utility bill verification solution. This innovative tool is designed to enhance the efficiency and accuracy of the proof of address (PoA) process, as well as provide businesses with a powerful tool to ensure anti-money laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance.

iDenfy’s automated utility bill verification service uses advanced AI to extract and compare utility bill information with customer details in multiple non-Latin languages within approximately 20 seconds. This new addition to iDenfy’s RegTech service package includes key features such as full name verification, as the system extracts and compares the full name on the utility bill with the customer’s provided details, as well as address validation, which verifies the user’s full address in any language or format. This helps companies scale, especially those that operate in global markets or have various partners from different jurisdictions.

According to Domantas Ciulde, CEO of iDenfy, this is a must in today’s landscape as regulations evolve and companies like crypto platforms or fintechs are required to conduct address checks. However, according to Ciulde, there’s a challenge when it comes to user experience, as additional checks like PoA verification add friction for the end user. For this reason, iDenfy’s team wanted to balance out the time that it takes for the customer to complete the address verification by tailoring a balanced solution, utility bill verification.

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“With the utility bill verification solution, our goal was to streamline the process and use AI to widen our capabilities, in this case, accept new formats in more different languages for companies that want to scale faster and offer their customers a seamless address verification check,” Domantas Ciulde, CEO of iDenfy, said.

The post iDenfy Launches New AI-powered Utility Bill Verification Tool appeared first on European Gaming Industry News.

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