Themes, mechanics, and player choice: Slots 2021

With a little over one month just left to go until the CasinoBeats Summit takes centre stage, we’re taking a tentative glance at what could lie ahead as part of day one’s Slots 2021 track.

To do so, we’ve reached out to three of the event’s sponsors, namely Scientific Games, FunFair Games, and Synot Games, to get the lowdown on life after Megaways, an increase in skill game mechanics, and combatting a sameness in themes and features.

Continuing to offer their expertise in the conclusion of a two-part special are Rob Procter, SG Digital’s content specialist director, Lloyd Purser, COO at FunFair Games, and Michael Polak, product manager at Synot Games.

CB: We’re seeing an increase in player choice and skill-based game mechanics being introduced into slots. Do you believe that this is the future for developers to target the next generation of players?

MP: Yes, for sure some games with their volume, features and graphics are really close to some of the computer games and some of the slots will be offering features which are based on skill so we can allow slots to be played by for example shoo-in players, poker players and so on. I also think that in the near future slot games will be associated with virtual reality. 

RP: Being able to control your destiny within a slot game is a trend that’s likely to stay. Players love the ability to determine how their free spins are played out. It’s becoming more common to have bonus rounds where players can choose their volatility, such as decreasing the number of spins in favour of a higher win multiplier. 

“…the next generation of players have grown up consuming engaging multiplayer and social content”

Lloyd Purser

The gamble option to secure more free spins is a favourite with many players too, adding another layer of excitement to proceedings. Developers are well aware that certain players respond well to these types of features and I’m sure we’ll see more concepts introduced in the coming months. 

LP: Absolutely, the next generation of players have grown up consuming engaging multiplayer and social content. They don’t just expect this in their choice of casino, they demand it. That’s why the cornerstone of every title FunFair Games produces is our ‘Active, Simple and Social’ promise. We develop games that are simple, yet require engagement and active decision making to play and with features that you expect in a multiplayer title. 

CB: It could be argued that there’s a sameness to slots themes and features, in what way, if at all, does this hamper the sector? And what challenges does this bring to the development process?

RP: There’s a lot of repetition when it comes to game themes, no question, but that’s because the subjects used continue to be appealing to the majority of players. The classic themed games work best as they can easily be transitioned into a slot game. 

For instance, slots inspired by Irish folklore provide developers with ample opportunities to convey wins and build a storyline. The key is knowing how best to take that theme forward and make it relevant to today’s online audience. 

At Scientific Games, we’ve enjoyed a stellar first half of 2021 with several major new game releases, including Cluedo Cash Mystery, Rainbow Riches Race Day and 5 Treasures. These games all incorporate classic themes, but the key difference is that we’ve introduced new features and mechanics to offer something new. 

“…it is very hard to come up with a new game concept that has never been used before”

Michael Polak

There are countless variations of our Rainbow Riches franchise live in the market today, but they’re all unique in their own way. The Race Day version is completely new with the inclusion of classic racing arcade mechanics. Evolving an existing theme with a new piece of functionality is what keeps the classic genre so engaging with players. 

MP: Yes, it is very hard to come up with a new game concept that has never been used before. There are tens of thousands slot games for every commonly used theme. The Egyptian theme, is perhaps the most widely known for “The Book of concept” game, which belongs to almost every game supplier’s portfolio. 

It is even more difficult to design and draw graphics in a unique fashion that is different from the competition. There are so many look-alike games; however, I do not think it is bad for the business. A player can always choose what fits him or her the best. We will definitely try to bring very new and original concepts to the market, even though it is very difficult.

LP: As with any form of entertainment, the cost of not providing new experiences can result in a loss of customers. Lack of innovation will hamper the sector and new customers will not be interested in the old. 

The challenge of creating something new isn’t easy, but those that innovate can reap the rewards with new customers and ultimately more revenue. This, however, can also create more risk as you can’t be sure a new feature will excite customers. 

Further in the development process, many great ideas have had to be abandoned as distribution platforms simply can’t support these new ideas. So, the challenges in development are twofold, do you risk creating a game that is untested and may not perform, and can the distribution platform even support it. 

Find out more about the event at the CasinoBeats Summit website.

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