Earlier this year Playtech unveiled the latest addition to its Sporting Legends series, as record-breaking jump jockey and former BBC Sports Personality of the Year AP McCoy joined the stable.
Launching in anticipation of the relevant season getting underway, CasinoBeats caught up with Ash Gaming, the Playtech content studio responsible for the title, to discuss what’s behind the success of this range of titles, why McCoy in particular was chosen and how Sporting Legends games stand the test of time.
Ryan Jensen, head of studio at Ash Gaming, discusses the development process, beginning with selecting the correct individual to base the content around :”We’re very selective about the various personalities that we choose for our Sporting Legends suite, we want to choose the right people and we think that AP McCoy was kind of a perfect match for what we were trying to do,” it’s stated
“He’s been hugely successful in a number of races in his jump jockey life, and as far as a legend in concerned he’s basically owned the jump jockey arena in the UK for decades.
“So we felt that as AP is such a known person it could be such a great idea to get him in and have a release right at the beginning of the horse racing season, with Cheltenham coming up, where he used to jump all the time, so we thought it was almost a no brainer to go out and see if he’d be interested, and it turned into a really good product, as well as being an enjoyable process to develop.”
Ensuring the correct sporting personality is hand-picked is an essential aspect with the Legends development process, with it integral that they are synonymous with the brand and are going to have mass market appeal within the target region/s.
“We want to be relevant at the time that we are bringing that brand to market”
A constantly evolving sporting calendar is also a challenge that has to be overcome, as Jensen elaborates: “It definitely plays a part, I think we want to be relevant at the time that we are bringing that brand to market, and I think that timing, like it is with almost everything, is extremely important.
“We do have other sports legends, such as Frankie Dettori and Ronnie O’Sullivan, and the brands that we have with them time-wise, we tried to release things on a good time schedule, but sometimes they just performed no matter what.
“I think the original Frankie Dettori has been one of the best games Playtech has had, and it continues to do well both inside and outside of horse racing season, and I hope that’s the case here.
“From what I’m seeing with some of the key performance indicators that I’m getting from AP is that our game in continuing to do very very well, even outside of its targeted launch at the moment, and I think it will continue to do well over the course of the entire year”.
One relatively surprising aspect of the lengthy process however is the amount of involvement sports stars are willing to have in a game’s development: “I spent four hours with AP in a video shoot getting him into the game, and we also went to his house to do some photo shoot stuff as well.
“He had a really great personality and is a really great guy, and that’s the kind of people, with regards to brands and sporting legends, that we want to be associated with.”
However caution was issued, with certain individuals very much prepared to view progress from a distance: “It does depend on the specific brand, and the personality, I think AP was very happy that we had contacted him to do a studio shoot, he seemed happy to do it and was in extremely good spirits,” Jensen stressed.
“It depends on the personalities involved, and how much or how little control they want to have”
“We had to give him a brief overview of what we were trying to do, and I think that he enjoyed listening to what we were going to do and that he was happy that we had a plan, but I don’t think that he was that big in getting into the nuts and bolts kind of thing with the games, so he trusted us to do it.
“Other brands that we deal with, and that I’ve dealt with in the past, wanted to have a little bit more say or have a little bit more involvement, but you really have to play that on a per brand basis.
“It depends on the personalities involved, and how much or how little control they want to have inside of the process, and we have to manage that situation.”
Incorporating a new ‘Powerplay’ feature within AP McCoy: Sporting Legends, which has generated “quite a bit of interest,” Jensen concludes with beliefs of how such titles stand the crucial test of time: “I’ve been in the industry for a little while, and I kind of got my start as a mathematician, and so I would say that math is kind of the life blood of the gaming business, and I think that it’s that math cornerstone that determines whether that game will stand the test of time.
“The brand itself is wonderful for attracting people to the game, and wanted to play it out, and AP is definitely a part of that and he plays a pivotal role in the success of the game, but how does that game continue to perform year after year after year?
“It has to do with the math and that feel underneath and how players interact with the game, so that’s really to me how it will stand the test of time.”