“Primarily, a slot focused on a specific holiday is the easiest for an operator to market. It calls directly to the period and fits well in any promotions or activity the operators may be doing.”

Those were the words of Joey Hurtado, Managing Director at Wizard Games, who, along with Andrew Crosby, Chief Commercial Officer at Kalamba Games and Nicola Longmuir, Chief Executive Officer at AvatarUX, returned for the second part of CasinoBeats’ Halloween roundtable series, which delved into their performances in different regions, opportunities that arise from holiday specific slots and how Halloween differs from other seasonal events.

What are some of the opportunities that arise from creating a slot with a focus on a specific holiday period?

Andrew Crosby, Chief Commercial Officer at Kalamba Games.

AC: We are expecting an uptick in players interacting with our more spooky releases during Halloween. This, of course, allows us to reach new players who may not have played a Kalamba Games title before and provide them with a small glimpse at the high-quality slots offered through our vast portfolio of games. 

This extends to other seasonal games too, such as Christmas or Easter, however, this year specifically provides additional opportunities for us with the upcoming Qatar World Cup. We will be releasing Football Blast to coincide with the beginning of the tournament and, much like Joker Lanterns Hit ‘n’ Roll, we expect new players who may not have played a Kalamba title before to enjoy this game and our more seasoned fans to enjoy a slot set around what we are sure will be an exciting tournament of sport.  

NL: Casinos continue to offer thematic promotions and often look for such types of games. If one of our games ‘fits the brief’ then that game will get more prominence which is great for reaching new players. However, this is something that is being slowly phased out, and operators focus more and more on the overall quality of the game they offer, rather than just on seasonal themes.

It is much more important to provide an entertaining product with quality elements like innovative math and mechanics, compelling features, and an excellent user experience. Zombie aPOPalypse is an excellent example of this- it offers a fantastic suite of features and an exciting brand-new mechanic- Multipop that enhances the win potential.

JH: Primarily, a slot focused on a specific holiday is the easiest for an operator to market. It calls directly to the period and fits well in any promotions or activity the operators may be doing. It can also be brought back every year almost fresh whereas a game that has been played all year round may have less appeal.

Some markets such as North America celebrate Halloween with more enthusiasm than other regions, does this affect your decision on whether or not to develop a Halloween title?

NL: Not at all. As per above, I strongly believe that all players want to play good, quality games irrespective of seasonal themes. If you have a game that meets that criteria and happens to have a theme which is attractive at a certain time of year, then fantastic.

Nicola Longmuir, Chief Executive Officer at AvatarUX.

Players also like promotions and games that have themes to fit with these will be featured. As a supplier inclusion in seasonal promotions extends our player reach and introduces players to a new gaming experience.

JH: Not specifically with Halloween but generally, if a growing or key market has an event or holiday that has bigger popularity, then it is normal for studios to create games that will appeal there. I expect we will see much more targeting of seasonal events and holidays from studios over the coming years.

AC: While playing a part in what games and avenues we develop and explore, we want to create slots that challenge our team of designers and give them a reason to be enthusiastic and inspired as a priority. Listening to the market and creating games that excel in specific regions is part of our development process but it has never been what has led us to create both engaging and entertaining content.

We are live in Ontario, many Latin American markets and Michigan which celebrate Halloween with more enthusiasm than in Europe however the popularisation of igaming in Europe and the exciting gameplay offered by Joker Lanterns Hit ‘n’ Roll means that the title will have a strong player base across the world regardless of how overtly the holiday is celebrated.

With numerous other holidays throughout the year, such as Easter and Christmas how does creating a Halloween-focused title differ from these?

Joey Hurtado, Managing Director at Wizard Games.

AC: I think the Halloween holiday specifically allows more room for innovation to take place both design-wise and mechanically. Most Christmas titles are focused around Santa or reindeer whilst Easter is typically created around eggs or rabbits. Halloween provides the perfect opportunity to flex some of our talented design teams’ flexibility and challenge ourselves to create a slot that circumvents players’ expectations.

Horror is uniquely subjective and introducing some of these elements into a slot provides ample opportunity to break with tradition which is not afforded by other holidays. 

JH: Christmas and Easter are quite rigid in their messaging and imagery etc. Whilst you can deviate slightly, the scope for creativity is limited. Halloween is far less structured and over the years has matured into a much wider range of themes.

In some ways, Christmas and Easter make the task/brief a little easier as your central theme is more defined, however, it is very hard to create games around these holidays that will have year round appeal. 

NL: I don’t think it differs in any way from any other game development. The aim of every studio is to develop an entertaining and attractive product, irrespective of the period when this is created and launched. So, from our point of view, it is important to focus on good, quality games offering innovative and thrilling player experiences.