Relax Gaming and CasinoGrounds recently teamed up to deliver the industry’s first ever slot game created by players: Iron Bank. To coincide with the release of the title, we caught up with Simon Hammon and Tobias Svensen to discuss how the development process has played out and whether community-driven content is igaming’s next big trend.
CB: This collaboration is the first of its kind in the online gaming sector, how did it come about?
SH: Relax and CasinoGrounds have been working together for some time in our promotional efforts around game releases. When we discussed a potential game collaboration it seemed to just make sense. We are a studio that is pushing for the very highest quality on the market and believe the CasinoGrounds team recognised this commitment early on.
To them, we were a studio that was keen to put their needs first, and we were eager to explore what a collaboration could be. Ultimately, any studio should be focussing on what the end user wants and needs. This was another opportunity to showcase our ambitions to push boundaries and put players first. The project is the first of its kind, and after nearly a year in the works, we are looking forward to unveiling the results.
CB: What made you choose Relax Gaming to develop this slot?
TS: When choosing a partner for a project such as this our key focus was to find a studio that has a great understanding of streaming and its community, combined with a passion for high quality slots. When Relax approached us with their idea CasinoGrounds instantly had a good feeling about their openness and willingness to give us complete creative freedom.
As CasinoGrounds is built by slot enthusiasts, the ability to translate our passion and knowledge into a product was the number one motivator, but naturally there were also many other factors involved. Our previous positive experiences of co-operating with Relax on other activities and ideas also influenced our decision.
CB: How has the game development process compared to previous releases?
SH: The game has gone through the usual development cycles of iteration and creation to ensure quality, only with much more time dedicated to the external direction coming through from CasinoGrounds. With the premise of this project being to create a product that is driven by the player community, we wanted to take every opportunity to listen to the team’s feedback and take it on board. When you have so many passionate people involved, there is typically more discussion and attention to detail, which in this case has seen initial ideas develop into something much stronger.
CB: CasinoGrounds have the ideas, Relax has the technical expertise – has there been a balancing act involved and how do you manage expectations on both sides?
SH: Like any partnership, there is always a balancing act between driving the production and turning ideas into tangible output. Making quality games is our bread and butter, so the collaboration has been one of ideation, but we have also had to make necessary tweaks along the way to make sure the design works in practice. The goal is to be able to get a product to market that encapsulates the spirit, ambition, and vision behind it. Both Relax and CasinoGrounds are extremely happy with every element of Iron Bank, which is very telling of how well our teams have worked together.
TS: Part of the reason why we wanted to work with Relax is that we knew they would respect our vision and bring it to life in the best way possible. The team really understood what we were trying to create, but at the same time weren’t afraid to tell us when something wouldn’t work.
They are the production experts, after all, and our openness with each other is what has made this partnership so successful. We’ve been blown away by the talent and expertise of everyone we’ve worked with on the project, who all showed an unwavering commitment to making sure Iron Bank is a game which will blow our fans away.
CB: Are community-led games the key to attracting a younger audience and staying relevant in a saturated market?
SH: As a supplier, we don’t think of it in terms of attracting a younger demographic. Our goal is to engage with a broader audience and get direct feedback from the players. The demographic of the streamer-viewing community is somewhat immaterial for us. Rather, we care what they want as a community so we can cater to their preferences and help drive our development forward.
TS: I’d agree with Simon. Our community is made up of a variety of ages and genders, with people from all over the world engaging with our content. So, while Iron Bank may attract younger audiences, it’s not the sole intention. We wanted to create a game that our fans love and that, in a way, gives something back. The slots that we enjoy the most are ones that have been built with the player front of mind, which is a value which has driven this project from start to end.
CB: Is there potential for greater collaboration between slot suppliers and online gaming communities? What’s next for your partnership?
SH: I don’t see why not. We have already seen a lot of interest from online gaming communities to be the next to work with us but we’re keen to see how this one resonates with players before taking on another project. What this experience has shown us is the value of working with the right partner – a partner like CasinoGrounds who are passionate and have a genuine love for slots – which we will obviously consider when approaching future collaborations.