“If you’ve played one slot, you’ve played them all.” Not a quote that can be attributed to any specific person but one that is nonetheless frequented by many, particularly when they learn what you do for a living.
The multitude of flaws within this statement are seemingly as clear as the difference between night and day, but how much of a role does remaining the same play among the endless efforts made to be different and push the industry forward on all fronts?
Despite what may seem to be confusion with that previous sentence, reinvention through additions to a slot series or continuation of a specific theme or IP are commonplace.
The importance of offering something familiar while simultaneously presenting a new game to entice players is a challenge that is, and will continue to be, endured by many.
As generations come and go one thing remains the same, and that is a love for the classics. However, will such games continue to be reinvented to meet the needs of a user base that is constantly evolving?
The answer to many may not necessarily be as straightforward as a simple yes or no, with a multitude of components, both internal and external, having to be factored in when venturing down that well trodden development avenue.
“It’s about offering something familiar but giving players a reason to play the new version”
Jo Purvis, Director of Key Accounts and Marketing UK at Blueprint Gaming, cites the importance of the player in this conundrum, with the necessity of building upon a solid foundation in a bid to build a sense of familiarity a key component.
“Blueprint Gaming has a focus on giving players what they want and listening to the market, rather than dictating to it and if a release proves particularly popular then we’ll consider it for a follow-up,” she elaborated upon being quizzed on the studio’s rich history of reinventing either games or themes.
“That said, our game families and player-favourite IPs aren’t necessarily direct follow-ups, which is something we try to shy away from. We try to evolve a brand by introducing proven mechanics such as our Jackpot King progressive pot system, Megaways or our other creations like Prize Lines and Fortune Play.
“The trick in developing from a proven foundation successfully is making sure the key components that drove the original remain, avoiding losing the core fundamentals that made the game successful in the first place. It’s about offering something familiar but giving players a reason to play the new version.”
It could also be argued that comments from the CasinoBeats Summit earlier this year remain as relevant to this discussion as they did during the ‘can you really make your game stand out from the crowd’ session from which they were heard.
“The quality of course, you can, especially starting off to get the quality up you need to get your name remembered … with so many competitors out there that, as a player they have too many choices,” David Stoveld, COO of Armadillo Studios, said to kick-off day one.
“We stick to the core elements and then consider new features or mechanics”
“They’ll maybe give a five minute spin on a game and if they don’t like it they’ll try another one, but I think after three or four they’re going to recognise the brand and quality is going to suffer for the company as well as the actual games.”
Despite addressing the key theme of proliferation, this idea of instant recognition with either a familiar or successful theme, character, television show, movie etc…could be crucial in ensuring player uptake and potentially the ultimate difference between success and failure.
Be it that of fishing, leprechauns, an array of move franchises, bursting stars, or even the 22 sealed boxes that were once the prized possession of a former Mr Blobby loving host, in the UK at least, reinvention is scattered across the igaming ecosystem for all to see.
From Space Invaders to Wheel of Fortune, the numerous Book of entrants to the Indiana Jones influences scattered across the space, with Play’n Go’s Rich Wilde making frequent appearances, and many many more, refreshes and/or resuscitations are seemingly everywhere.
Igaming juggernaut Evolution even detailed a move reminiscent of crafting its own MCU earlier this year, with influences from across verticals and studios noted as the group looked to ramp up the entertainment factor further still. One prime example to this end is Red Tiger sprinkling its expertise on a sequel to NetEnt’s Narcos.
With it often argued, or joked, that the increasing number of games is outpacing that of players, it can be of little surprise that this forms such a key component for developers, be that via a fresh slot title or themes spread across numerous verticals, with live the chief example in this domain.
“Players then benefit as they’ve got a new version of a comfortable and familiar favourite”
Blueprint is certainly no stranger here, with The Goonies, Fishin’ Frenzy, Top Cat, Ted, Rick & Morty and the previously alluded to Deal or no Deal all examples of themes revisited at one point or another by the developer.
“Perhaps our most renowned example of this is our beloved Fishin’ Frenzy franchise. In one iteration, The Big Catch, the core element of the game remained but we introduced a new bonus game with a different way of achieving big wins,” Purvis continues.
“If we deviated far from that, we’d run the risk of losing the appeal and the reason it was successful in the first place. We stick to the core elements and then consider which new features or mechanics so that we can still appeal to existing as well as new players.
“In terms of benefits, we as a company get to work on themes, characters and mechanics that we know inside out. We also use the experience gained having done similar work before to hone whichever game we’re working on so that it’s not only a natural evolution but also an improved version of what came before.
“Players then benefit as they’ve got a new version of a comfortable and familiar favourite but there are new ways to interact with them and have fun. There’s also the incentive to go back to older versions in the build-up to the release of the newer ones, so we and our operators gain there too.”
So, it would seem that remaining the same can indeed represent a key component of innovating and driving forward.