Slots developer Booongo has made several moves as part of a concerted effort to grow its global footprint during recent weeks and months, with Latin America and Asia two key regions targeted most recently.

Central to the firm’s global ambitions however is a focus on developing a deeper engagement with players, with the issue of retention becoming a much more central focus in igaming.

Here, Yuriy Muratov, head of account management and business development at Booongo, talks to CasinoBeats about the supplier’s vision, collaborative play and the role of social media.

CasinoBeats: Why do you believe developing a deeper engagement with players has become such a prime focus?

Yuriy Muratov: Player engagement is one of the hottest topics right now in the online gaming industry. As acquisition costs increase, the need to attract and retain players has become more important than ever. Simply put, player engagement is an effective way to improve the gaming experience.

Gamification features such as tournaments, daily\weekly missions and prize giveaways are great examples of meta gaming tools for interacting with players. When we’re describing metagaming, it’s all about the engagement tool that’s added to the main game.

“…we’re seeing that collaborative play is already working in a successful way”

These features give the player additional thrills and the opportunity to win more rewards. Content providers and operators who do not accept these changes and develop accordingly will be left behind.

CasinoBeats: Is there a need for more social features, offering not just competitive but also collaborative play?

YM: In Asia, we’re seeing that collaborative play is already working in a successful way. Multiplayer slots such as fish games have become so popular that some operators have dedicated tabs for this genre. Players spin by shooting fish with a set bet amount, and are rewarded with regular winnings, jackpots and bonus rounds for successful hits. However, this concept has yet to take off in other markets yet.

Regarding gamification around the social / sharing aspect of online slots, at the moment we don’t see the demand and willingness of players to actively use this in the real money gambling market. For most players, their anonymity is more of a priority than the social component of gamification. Features that allow players to share their winnings on social networks have been trialled, but players have resisted to use them.  

And I absolutely understand why players are hesitant. Not all countries have developed an understanding and positive attitude to real money gaming. No matter how much they want to share a big win story, psychologically they may be afraid to share such content in personal social networks, which can often be viewed by a wider audience when shared by others. 

Although there are very few examples of such mechanics in operation at the moment, it’s an intriguing area for sure and there are different ways of offering them to players. For more than two years, Booongo has provided a stream mode, which is used by operators in personal tournaments.

Players can watch or play together and offers a similar experience to the land-based casino environment. This is just the beginning; we’re working on various new mechanics around collaborative play. 

CasinoBeats: Can casual players engage with leaderboards that likely feature a select few top players?

YM: Absolutely! We’ve been working on this for a long time, understanding the weight of seasoned or VIP players in standard tournaments for accumulating points over long distances. 

It’s simply not interesting for casual players to participate in them, recognising their chances of winning are very slim. The hype itself is lost from this too, since the event is more likely to focus on a small number of players who can compete.

We successfully offer casual players a completely different approach – a series of short one-day tournaments, which greatly increases the probability of achieving the top spot for so many more casual players. That’s because the mechanics are built around the best result, rather than points accumulated over a longer time period.

“Social media plays an important role, but due to many restrictions it becomes difficult to work in this area”

In addition, we further encourage players to participate throughout the series of tournaments by offering them extra leaderboards for the most successful and active ones. 

This is an important area of focus for us right now and we’re set to release a separate sub-product, “Tournament Series”, which comes out in July. This will automate the extra leaderboard in many different ways and is constantly visible to players, including their results from previous tournaments.

CasinoBeats: With a lot of talk surrounding engagement tools, mechanics and features, what role does social media play?

YM: In gambling, social media plays an important role, but due to many restrictions it becomes difficult to work in this area. Most players don’t want to share information about playing in a casino for many reasons, and it’s difficult for developers and operators to maintain a community around themselves.

The importance of informing players and partners about new features, tools or mechanics is very high, but more and more falls on the shoulders of specialised media who have already gathered a strong community around them.

CasinoBeats: How does Booongo utilise player engagement mechanics and solutions different to its igaming counterparts?

YM: At Booongo, we’re looking to introduce new mechanics to the market, such as our daily rewards, and also use big data / BI for in-depth performance analysis. 

Of course, it’s very important that we also convey all the important information to the operators as quickly as possible, so that they also understand how effective our promotions are in terms of player involvement and financial performance. 

We strive to drive RFM – recency, frequency and monetary value. We’re always evolving with these tools, keeping in mind that they should be really interesting and captivating for our players at the same time.

CasinoBeats: What is the future of gamification in online casino?

YM: Generation Z and millennials represent a new breed of players already accustomed to a higher level of stimulation and interaction. 

We’re already moving to a time when game providers are increasingly pulling on gamification and direct communication with the player, offering advanced tools and mechanics. This will inevitably go into a tighter integration with an operator’s CRM system to exchange data on each player’s activities, costs and results. 

This deeper integration is an exciting move for the industry, and most importantly, players are really going to enjoy the way in which it enhances the gaming experience.