“Gone are the days where you can just launch a game, and you think that every player’s going to play it globally. They don’t exist anymore,” noted Dylan Slaney, CEO of iGaming at Light & Wonder, in the aftermath of the group’s latest UK launch.
This saw the Wonder 500 franchise family welcomed by Sky Betting & Gaming on an exclusive basis, with the platform to deliver a series that provides players with a £2 maximum stake level and a highest win of 500x.
Delivery of the concept has been six to eight months in the making, with a collaboration with Sky having been undertaken to identify player behaviour as well as how they interact with certain types of content.
“We came up with this idea, which basically takes some original IP and some new IP that we’re about to launch in the market, and really puts a new math model and a new player engagement model around the game itself,” Slaney explained on a bustling show floor at ICE’s day one.
“Essentially, what we’re trying to do is give players the ability to have more moments inside the game, where they can have a win. Obviously, it’s based on a lesser stake, which we think is going to materialise in the UK market, and also sets a max win cap. So it’s not going to be for every player.
“…I think we’re starting to really understand the different types of player behaviour that are out there”
“But there are a lot of players that are playing out there that want to have more of a feature-rich experience within a game.”
Despite acknowledging that “we’re still building that type of content,” much confidence is expressed throughout that an ambition of offering players more moments within a game to experience wins will catch-on.
“Like we said, it’s not for every player that’s out there in the UK. The players that still want more volatile games definitely won’t be playing Wonder 500. But we know again, in collaboration with Sky that there’s a player type out there that loves this type of game,” he said.
The desire to cater to an increasingly vast base of players is one that is much stressed across numerous studios, with Light & Wonder able to draw on data that saw over five million global users play on the OpenGaming platform through December alone.
“As an industry, I think we’re starting to really understand the different types of player behaviour that are out there. Gone are the days where you can just launch a game, and you think that every player’s going to play it globally. They don’t exist anymore. We’ve seen that on a regional basis as well, with different types of content resonating for different types of players within regions.
“So our job, as a game studio and a content provider that only operates in regulated markets, is to really understand that player behaviour, and to put out games that resonate with those players both on a global basis and regionally.”
“it’s a bunch of games that are ultimately aimed at player behaviour today … irrespective of what regulatory changes may or may not happen”
As a result of the seemingly timely introduction, CasinoBeats touched on the elephant in the room, that being if any potential regulatory changes impacted this introduction, as well as if Light & Wonder were potentially aiming to steal a march on competitors.
In response, Slaney defiantly noted that Wonder 500 “has nothing to do with what may or may not happen from a regulatory point of view,” with everyone “still future gazing” at the current time.
Instead, as was reiterated throughout, it is down to current player behaviour, in addition to an increased operator focus on being more responsible to players.
“We don’t know what the regulations are going to do in the UK,” he stated. “But this game family has been designed around what we’re seeing today, the way that players are interacting with games. With the type of games that players want, they want to experience bigger wins more frequently.
“This is a franchise. It’s a bunch of games that are ultimately aimed at player behaviour today, that we think will have resonance over the next 12-18 months, irrespective of what regulatory changes may or may not happen from a UK point of view.”
Wonder 500 begins its life cycle on an exclusive basis alongside Sky “for a number of weeks,” before a wider UK roll-out occurs during the first quarter of the year.
The Light & Wonder long-term operator partner will exclusively roll-out the first Wonder 500 games to their players later this month, with Mighty Black Knight, Spartacus and Rod & Annette Go Fishing amongst the maiden titles from the series to hit the market. Many more are planned for 2023.
“…we’re using the UK market to really hone and tone”
Slaney noted that the pair have worked “very, very closely” on the development of the games and mechanics featured, with the operator also having “helped us to really fine tune the way that the games work.”
“Like I said, it’s not for everyone,” he continued. “Certain players will still want to play those very, very high volatile games, which Sky and other operators offer today.
“But there is a set of player behaviour that we’re seeing in the marketplace that which we believe Wonder 500 really caters for, providing a set of games that are purely designed for the way that those players play today, and hopefully will continue to play in the future.”
Furthermore, education was also cited as a crucial necessity alongside the introduction, whether that be with a distinct UK focus or potentially further afield during the weeks and months that lie ahead.
Slaney concluded: “Globally, we can see that this type of game has resonance with certain types of a certain type of players. We’re using the UK market to really hone and tone.
“From what we’re seeing from a data point of view, that’s where this type of player really is today. But again, as markets mature, player behaviour matures as well. And we’ve definitely seen resonance with this type of game on a global basis.
“But at the moment, it’s focused on the UK player because that’s where we’re really seeing this type of player behaviour really come to fruition through our data.”