Every year we see Halloween slots take centre stage around this time, with provider’s all over the world creating spooky content. But how important are these to portfolios and do players still crave seasonal titles?
In the concluding part of a two-part mini-series, CasinoBeats once again gets the views of Andrew Crosby, Relax Gaming director of account management, Markus Antl, Greentube head of sales, Carl Ejlertsson, director of business development at Red Tiger, and Andy Sekula, head of games at Kalamba Games.
CasinoBeats: Are certain markets with strong holiday traditions, such as the United States, more receptive to seasonal content? Why could this be?
AS: For sure. It all depends on people’s expectations of what they are used to and how popular the traditions are. Valentine’s Day for example, even though known globally, is still probably more celebrated in the USA than other parts of the world, so the content related to Valentine’s Day might be more appealing to players that live in the USA rather than other countries.
AC: For countries that have strong holiday traditions in terms of promotions, celebrations are likely to have a positive impact on seasonal games. If you are used to seeing seasonal content in every facet of your daily life for a few weeks each year, then it stands to reason that you’d expect the same from casino content.
The US online market is tightly regulated, however, and it is unlikely that casinos will regularly change out machines on a floor rotation to cater for a holiday season. It comes down to balance. You have to assess whether customising your offering around seasonal trends is viable from both a logistics and investment point of view.
MA: Absolutely. Culture plays a major part in the appeal of all entertainment, and online gaming is no different. The more people engage in holiday traditions, the more likely they are to play the games associated with them during the seasonal period.
Halloween is a good example. It’s celebrated much more widely in the United States compared to some European markets, so spooky titles will have a bigger impact. As these holidays become more commercialised across the board, however, the appeal of content will no doubt increase too.
CE: We’re just about to launch in the US so we’ll reserve judgement on that particular market for the time being. But my suspicion would be that they will be very receptive to seasonal content. The US and some other countries have a long tradition of commercialising holidays like Halloween and Christmas.
As a result, everyone from shoppers to online casino players are more engaged – and encouraged to be engaged – by the marketing efforts around them. It follows that they would try out a seasonal game in that commercialised atmosphere.
CB: As seasonal content naturally has a short product lifespan, how important is the marketing of such games, and can they be used as cross-sell opportunities into a suppliers’ wider content portfolio?
AC: Seasonal content can certainly have a shorter natural shelf life and therefore effective marketing and cross selling is a key element. That is not to say that games dedicated to a certain holiday can’t be tailored to a general theme, however.
Our Halloween game offering is a prime example, but it is also the case that football-themed titles aren’t limited to a specific league or fixture in the same way that Irish-themed games aren’t only popular around St. Patrick’s Day.
What is consistent for each of these occasions is that marketing products to fit into operator campaigns will always be a key feature of getting visibility, particularly as competition between themed content heightens around special dates in the calendar.
MA: Effective marketing is absolutely critical. It could even be said that executing tailored campaigns and promotions is even more important with seasonal content than it is for standard games since the window of opportunity is much shorter.
Despite the shorter lifespan, holiday-themed titles are still worth the investment. They can indeed be a perfect addition to a cross-platform content portfolio, particularly in markets with strong traditions.
A seasonal game that has both an online and a land-based presence, for example, often boosts performance for multi-channel operators during the holidays. That said, the competition is obviously high at these times. Respective market research, timing and marketing are key for content to make a mark.
CE: Marketing is crucial – probably more so than for other games. Throughout the year casinos look deeply into games and which ones they offer customers. But there is a necessity at holiday time to give people what they expect rather than just what the casino would like to give them. There is also an expectation on the part of the player as to what they are going to get.
That said, I don’t think seasonal games are a sure-fire way of making yourself famous as a supplier. I don’t think there’s an obvious cross-sell opportunity there either. At Red Tiger we did well with Jingle Bells because it was a good game. We weren’t really capitalising on the seasonal aspect, but we’re happy to play the game.
AS: As a supplier, it’s a great chance to be exposed to lots of players, so finding ways to cross-promote your portfolio and increase brand awareness are your ultimate goals. This means it’s crucial to plan the effective marketing activities that leverage that opportunity.