It was a case of déjà vu for CasinoBeats this week, and what seemed like a throwback to the days of extended lockdowns (remember those?), where online events seemed the only way for the industry, and one that is so used to embracing its social side, to keep in touch on a large scale.
This came courtesy of Evolution, where an array of senior executives from across the group dissected the company’s plans for the year and detailed a number of new releases from across its six brands, as well as laying out designs to drive casino lobby functionalities, following the postponement of ICE 2022 to April 12-14.
Across a little over one hour, details of recommendation engines and search functionalities were interspersed with the impending introductions of dragons, outlaws, secret agents, and more, charity donations via a branded game that will be all too familiar to many, a unity of RNG and live, and a most expensive igaming title to-date for the group.
“2022 will be a big product year,” Martin Carlesund, group CEO of Evolution, began amid the introduction of a 12 month time frame that is slated to delivery 88 game releases, a record for the group, across the six brands of NetEnt, Red Tiger, Ezugi, Big Time Gaming, DigiWheel, and Evolution itself.
“I believe in innovation, tight teamwork, constant movement, to keep the engagement [and] to look for the next opportunity to always be on our toes, this is the spirit that drives Evolution forward,” he continued, as attentioned turned towards the first slate of introductions to be rolled-out across 2022.
“Now that BTG is part of Evolution, I’m glad to say that nothing has changed,” begins Nik Robinson, CEO of Big Time Gaming, who gleefully shared a more product-focused approach after Evolution’s €450m purchase of the developer.
“I’ve been saying for a while that this is the best roadmap we’ve ever had”
As licensing of the group’s Megaways mechanic is lauded as a “revenue driving powerhouse,” with Q121 to see the supplier hit 300+ games in production worldwide across licensees and in-house, Robinson expresses delight as studios aim to push the innovation “in every which way”.
And with that comes a quick brush over a number of upcoming releases, taking in an Olympian deity, sci-fi themes, a trilogy ending Outlaw (following Little Devil and Wildflower), Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, and much more in what Robinson calls the “most exciting roadmap in our ten year history”.
However, the best, as they say, could well have been saved for last, with Robinson full of optimism for a title that could surpass a prior introduction that has performed particularly well in the US igaming market.
“The game in question is in my opinion a contender for the Bonanza crown. The game is called Golden Catch. I won’t say much more than it is one of my favourite BTG’s to-date,” he remarked.
Moving on, and Todd Haushalter, chief product officer of Evolution, keenly continued: “I am incredibly excited to be talking about my favourite subject, games. Specifically a good portion of our 2022 roadmap.
“I’ve been saying for a while that this is the best roadmap we’ve ever had, and it’s true. We’ve got something for everybody.”
This, in a move reminiscent of Evolution crafting its own MCU, features influences from across verticals as the group looks to ramp up the entertainment factor further still.
In what is dubbed “a bang-up line-up of games,” we see Red Tiger sprinkling its expertise on a sequel to NetEnt’s Narcos, a team-up with Big Cat Rescue and Carol Baskin that includes a portion of game winnings being donated to the animal sanctuary, an extreme Lightning Roulette, and a bingo infused Monopoly offering.
“The game, to me, is the Crazy Time of slots, it’s just action, action everywhere”
It is inevitable that all roads lead to the final showcase in the NetEnt roadmap, a point which becomes particularly clear with Haushalter’s description as “the one I’m most excited about”.
“I believe that it’s the most expensive game ever made in online slots, you can never know for sure but it’s the most expensive slot game any of our slot companies have ever made by a long shot,” he explains.
“The game, to me, is the Crazy Time of slots, it’s just action, action everywhere, and we call it Super Stars.”
In the title, players will be able to recognise a number of characters, such as Gonzo from Gonzo’s Quest, Finn from Finn and the Swirly Spin, Brute from Space Wars, Lady Pig from Piggy Riches, and the star from Starburst, as well as a “feature you could play a thousand times and you’d still get wildly different experiences each time”.
Expect a release in late summer for the game, as Haushalter concludes he has “never been more excited about a slot in my life”.
It’s not all slot releases though, Evolution has also disclosed plans to introduce a search function “as good of Google” and an AI-powered recommendation engine into casino lobbies.