Robert Lee, commercial director of Realistic Games, assesses recent developments in the UK market and asserts that safety and sustainability are the paths forwards for igaming.

The recent ruling by the Gambling Commission that the All-Party Parliamentary Group’s progress on a safer code for game design has fallen ‘significantly short’ is disappointing for everyone with an interest in the UK market.

Much of its criticism has focused on the group not adopting a maximum stake per spin and its reluctance to countenance slower spin speeds, particularly during sessions of play lasting for an hour or more.

The debate over the efficacy of these measures will no doubt rage for some time to come. And yet it would be wrong if the criticism were to mask the good work that is being done within the industry – but away from the headlines – to make the environment safer for players.

I and many others like myself at Realistic Games have been involved in that industry since long before the length of online sessions – or even online – was even a consideration. When internet gaming finally took off, we were one of the first studios to gear our content towards mobile play, converting British land-based players with the high volatile slots they were used to in casinos and arcades.

But as times have changed, so have we. Much of our focus is now on providing a friendlier user experience that suits the profile of a player who views gameplay as a form of entertainment rather than a means to win money.

“There are changes coming to the online industry and some will be easier to swallow than others”

It would be disingenuous to pretend shifts in our game design have not been driven by changing player behaviour, yet it is true to say that a significant catalyst for change has also been our desire to safeguard the end user.

A case in point is the recent implementation of a minimum five pence (or currency equivalent) stake on one of our slots, with an eye to making that available on all suitable games in the near future, including our table games and pull tabs.

Over the course of a session, that is a significant drop from the previous minimum of twenty pence. It also offers players the same entertainment for less money and allows them to keep a lid on their spending.

Whilst the use of return to player and what they mean for gameplay is rather more nuanced, we’ve also taken the decision to introduce a more customer friendly RTP of over 97 per cent on our next slot. This will be the highest in the company’s history.

We are hopeful it will produce happier players for our operator partners and be a springboard for more of these types of games. Of course, different players prefer different experiences and I’m not suggesting every game should follow the same rules.

But by the same token offering safer – more sustainable – choices should be the
way forward in this day and age. There are changes coming to the online industry and some will be easier to swallow than others.

In the meantime, we should do what we can to put our own house in order and make sure we’re doing all we can to protect both players and the industry’s reputation.