In 5 episodes of SlotBeats Spotlight, Ondrej Lapides, CEO at Tom Horn Gaming alongside other industry experts contemplates the future of slot games, including game features, penetration of skill-based elements into slot development, and shares his predictions for further developments that we can expect to see in slot provision in the near future.
SlotBeats: We’re seeing more and more features being included in video slot titles. How important are features in retaining players compared to other aspects of slot titles?
Ondrej Lapides: A good slot game is the perfect blend of game elements from features, maths models and game mechanics to the aesthetics and attractiveness of the theme that entices players and creates a loyal following.
From a player retention perspective, great complexity of a slot game might lead to disappointment, lack of enjoyment, with the player eventually leaving the game never to return. Simple intuitive yet entertaining games are always easier to understand and easier to recognise. The skill required to achieve the right balance of game components is what makes the best game suppliers to stand out among their industry peers.
With each new title providers should offer quality and enhance the entertainment value of the slot. Fresh, crispy, clear features are sure to increase player retention for longer whilst boosting operators’ revenues. An ultimate win-win situation.
SB: Features normally consist of Free Spins, various Wilds and Jackpot wins. Moving forward, how can features innovate and go to that next level, especially in terms of player engagement?
OL: Slot development has changed dramatically in the last few years, with 2020 accelerating innovation and technological advances in slot provision even further. To increase excitement new fresh ideas are constantly being brought to the table to reflect shifts in demands and player behaviour.
We have seen many suppliers focusing on the engagement tools allowing players to enjoy an enhanced gaming experience. This area evolves at breakneck speed as new tools are being rolled out to cater for increased demand for more engaging and interactive entertainment.
We will see more providers strengthen their igaming offering with engagement suites in order to add a new level of excitement and boost player experience.
Achievement-based features such as missions, prize hunts, challenges as well as tournaments, and tools that allow players to share their progress and connect with the player community will reinforce a personalised user experience, help differentiate the provider’s brand and drive customer engagement and retention.
SB: We’re experiencing more and more skill-based games being introduced into the market. Could we see more slot titles incorporate player choices in a more enhanced way than a Gamble feature or deciding which feature to play?
OL: I believe that we should keep the two domains – slot games and skill-based games – apart. The blending of features borrowed from the fields that are not associated together doesn’t necessarily lead to the creation of a perfect game popular with players.
The differentiation of content in slot development and the freedom of choice is very important. Game features evolve every day in order to reflect changing player preferences. We should take this into account and create games where we give players more options to ‘mould’ their gaming experience in the game by offering them ‘choices’ within the realm of randomness characteristic for casino games. The beauty and thrill of slot games is their unpredictability. Let’s not rob players of this experience.
SB: Alongside in-game features are different types of slot mechanics, cascading and cluster slots for example. How is having a different variety of slots pivotal to attracting new players?
OL: Players are more demanding than ever. They crave new, unknown and more immersive gaming experiences. Back in the day, providers got away with sheer game reskinning where tried and tested game ideas and mechanics were dressed up in new visual clothes.
In an increasingly competitive global marketplace we must be more creative, flexible, unique and keep our finger on the pulse of what players want and how their preferences change if we want to thrive. Suppliers who are quick to adapt their portfolios to the changing market landscape will gain a competitive edge over their competitors.
Differentiation is key to cementing a leading market position and suppliers have to offer something different from others or bring a unique market-special focus to strengthen their place at the head of the pack.
SB: As we’ve entered a new year, what can we expect to see in the slot industry in regards to innovation within slot features?
OL: Providers will continue to push the boundaries in terms of innovation and technological excellence whilst trying to surpass the rest of the pack with new approaches to in-game features or introduction of new player retention tools.
Apart from slot features, mobile-first design will remain a high priority in 2021 with many studios investing their time and energy into perfecting their UX designs to provide the smoothest possible player experience across a variety of devices.
Localised content will also be high on the agenda as it is crucial to deeper market penetration. I believe we will see a more diverse, tailored gaming offering with more creative approach to features and gameplay in the coming months.