Many famous sports stars have enjoyed success marketing themselves in the world of games. Often, sports players will act as the cover stars for games to promote them. Examples of this are Lionel Messi on the front of the FIFA games, and the EA sports game – Rory McIlroy PGA Tour. The famous ex-basketball star, Shaquille O’Neal, has also offered his name to slot machines and blackjack. With Kobe Bryant about to retire, could he follow the same path as his “frenemy” and former teammate?
What makes branching out to casino games the perfect yet untrodden path for a retired sports star? At the moment the online casino business is booming, with slot machines being one of the most popular games around. The modern slot machine is designed in such a way that makes it ideal to be sponsored by stars, TV shows, or films, as each slot machine has its own theme. The design of the slot machine is very much based around its theme, so the Jurassic World game at 32Red slots uses dinosaur symbols on the reels, and the Incredible Hulk slot at Slot-Mania features cut scenes from the film along with Hulk-themed icons.
Slot machines are designed to appeal to a wide variety of different audiences and that is why there are so many varying themes. Fans of TV shows like Game of Thrones will be attracted to the slot game of the same name, while horse racing lovers may want to play slots based around the sport. Sports stars who have a huge following would enjoy success from marketing their own slot machine because their fans would want to play it. This is what Shaquille O’Neal realised when he retired so could Kobe follow in his former teammate’s footsteps to try to outdo him?
Shaq was a huge personality both on and off the basketball court during his career. Since his retirement, he has put his fame to good use and developed his own brand that covers a wide range of different products. He is one of the few sports stars that has seen just how lucrative the online casino business is, and has decided to get a piece of the action.
The two casino games that Shaq has marketed are CaddyShaq and Shaqjack. Shaqjack is a blackjack game while Caddyshaq is a free-to-play slot machine game narrated by Shaq himself. The game allows players to earn loyalty points that they can exchange for real rewards such as tickets for shows, hotels, and meal vouchers. Even though Shaq was a famous basketball star, the game is actually based on the film of a similar name and the idea of Shaq playing golf, which is a fun twist on how fans have traditionally known the player. The hugely popular game has many side features, and its success may well lead other developers and sports personalities to try and create something similar.
Will Kobe follow the same path?
Due to Kobe and Shaq’s feud that caused them to become bitter enemies, it may be that Kobe tries to emulate his fellow Lakers legend and make some serious money in the online casino universe. If Kobe does manage to break into the world of online gaming, 32Red would be a great place for him to showcase his product. The site already has its own basketball-themed game called Basketball Star, that has basketball-themed reels, side games, and features that give the feel of a real basketball experience. If Kobe were to try to create his own game he could use some of the aspects of a game like this, but tailoring it so it is more appropriate to him and the LA Lakers. Striking a deal with a site like 32Red, who have great experience in this area, could help Kobe get his product out there.
Then again, although there is no doubt that Kobe was a great basketball player, does he really have the same kind of celebrity status as Shaq that is required to really push a product to the mainstream?
Only time will tell, but as with a lot of retired sports stars, Kobe will be looking at things to do beyond the world of sport. Retirement is of course unavoidable for even the greatest of players at some point, and it will be interesting to see which other stars will put their name to a slot machine. David Beckham branched out into many different businesses after he retired, but a casino game has so far not been an avenue he has taken. Will he decide to follow suit should more stars find success in this domain?