Entertainment has always been the be-all and end-all in any casino product with the modern player already accustomed to endless thrills through various forms of media. The industry is consistently looking for ways to innovate and enhance its products and entertainment is no different.
In CasinoBeats’ Future of Entertainment mini-series, we asked Vladimir Malakchi, CCO at Evoplay, Simon Hammon, CPO at Relax Gaming, David Little, co-founder at Lightning Box and James Marshall, CEO at Push Gaming, to discuss the evolution of entertainment in the casino sector and player preferences.
How would you define the nature of ‘entertainment’ at this point in the casino industry – what’s changed in terms of what players are looking for?
Vladimir Malakchi, Evoplay: Entertainment’s always been with us – the key is defining what it means in today’s market. We’re seeing the industry evolve largely on the back of technological changes, but also due to the environment players expect to interact with.
Vital to development is immersive gameplay, and it’s a facet that is seemingly limitless.
Players want more and more to feel part of the games they’re playing, so much so that retention is no longer just a battle between operators, but also in the hands of game developers.
This means adopting a whole range of technologies, user experiences within platforms, devices, genres and themes to create the experience that the new generation demands and it’s a really exciting period we’re seeing right now.
However, it’s also important to note that it’s not always about producing products that are completely new – we’re seeing plenty of trends toward reimagining the classic games that we all know and love, with fresh new takes.
For example, classic fruit-based slots as well as Egyptian themes are in high demand, but only if they come with a modern twist – offering a new version with a fresh spin. We can call this a contemporary experience wrapped up in a classic favourite.
Simon Hammon, Relax Gaming: We have seen some significant shifts in what players are looking for. In previous years, there was a lot more demand for low to medium variance in games that led to longer-term player enjoyment and a lot of time on the device.
Today that landscape is different.
Players are now looking for high visual appeal and an engaging theme. The modern customer expects an innovative approach in design or gameplay or a clever twist on the game’s features and, most importantly, a very tangible and high win potential.
Players today expect to understand quickly and clearly where the win potential lies in the game offerings rather than discovering that by spending time with the game.
David Little, Lightning Box Games: There’s obviously been an increase in high volatility games that have been propelled by the success of Megaways and their equivalents that studios are trying to create for themselves. But I think we’ve also seen an influx of new players over the last 12 months, possibly during periods of Lockdown, who are looking for a fun experience rather than a lucrative one.
For them, high volatility games can be a bit too much, so having titles that are closer to the playful games found in social casinos are more relevant. What it demonstrates is the need to have a diverse portfolio that caters for all-comers.
James Marshall, Push Gaming: The slots market in Europe, and no doubt the US, are ones we can consider mature. This is especially the case in Europe, where player demand is higher than it has ever been.
Tied in with that, we all know today’s players are more accustomed to complex user experience, understanding new mechanics and grasping new gameplay more effortlessly than ever before.
Players want instant entertainment, looking for quick and instant fun, and it’s very interesting that we see this for all types of entertainment right now.
Just like TikTok, Instagram Reels and now YouTube recently launching Shorts, if we look at the growth of small bits of content, it’s fitting that slots are also becoming shorter and shorter with their gaming cycles.
Players want shorter but bigger impact – enabling them to jump into the bonus rounds and hit the excitement straight away.