Innovation. A word that is seeped throughout the tomes of history. Think the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. Yes, the one where the development of pyramids was said to have been perfected, wrote Craig Davies, Editor of CasinoBeats and SlotBeats, in the latest edition of SBC Leaders.

Believe it or not, these are also still being innovated today on a global scale, although this familiar sight is being done so in the form of those 5×3, 5×4 et al spinning reels.

This headline term also represents one that drives so much of the day-to-day make-up of this industry, but one that it could be argued is losing much of its meaning, primarily due to the incredible over eagerness of its usage. 

It could be stated that this is to be expected given the never ending tidal wave of titles that are released on a weekly basis, but does this development of more of the same point to the fact that we’re simply nearing the end of the line in product innovation for online slots? Are we actually seeing any innovations when it comes to such features and mechanics?

This certainly divided opinion, albeit briefly, in a trial run of iGaming Daily, SBC’s podcast that is produced each week day, and is one that needs to be elaborated on a little more than a simple yes or no. Otherwise, I would be around 500 words short of my word count.

There is undoubtedly innovation, but in the wider content of the industry is this enough?

Copycat syndrome is rife, think of the numerous iterations of everyone’s favourite adventurer in Indiana Jones, or how much of a love affair we have with fruit, etc… 

It could be argued that Megaways cis worthy of an inclusion here if looking at things from a mechanics point of view. Personally, I know countless slot enthusiasts who think certain mechanics “make every game look the same” (not my words – don’t shoot the messenger).

“…the impact of the players themselves must also be placed under the microscope”

From a purely media perspective, it is particularly crucial to be careful of attaching words such as innovative and innovation to anything and everything. This is a familiar sight each day by many across the industry, however, as alluded to above, It does start to feel like it’s losing all meaning.

Another key thing to keep in mind, in my opinion anyhow, is the concept of innovation versus progression. Are a large slice of the concepts labeled as innovative truly transformative? Or are they simply kicking something that we are already all too familiar with down the road a little more?

After almost six years in the industry, some ‘innovative’ concepts seem to have been spoken about almost as much as Latin America has been dubbed the next big thing. Although it is refreshing that significant progress has been made across the latter. 

Getting back to the topic at hand, the impact of the players themselves must also be placed under the microscope, in addition to the trust of operators in welcoming fresh concepts. 

An individual could well be comfortable with what they know, or simply not be blessed with masses of time to spend looking for title/s to play. The double sided coin here balances the effectiveness of a lobby against the thought that said player/s would simply head straight to what they know. 

How much innovation is too much? To this point, maybe we could consider the Aesop fable of the tortoise and the hare.

Swinging things back to slots and the tidal wave of output that was touched upon earlier, could the danger be that there’s now more of a focus in producing a catalogue that appeases the many? Or simply producing a vast amount of games?

“Supporting unique content through quality marketing and positioning is imperative to tipping the scales”

If you throw enough ideas at the wall, one will stick, right? The heightened output is undoubtedly an advantage to some. Those being the larger studios that could potentially be particularly well versed at enjoying success across multiple territories and demographics.

Building upon this is the risk that potential hit titles are simply being swamped by the volume of competition? Could true innovation be slipping between the cracks, or be a mere whisper among the ear splitting noise of more established and much better funded counterparts? This, it could be argued, is unless they are backed by an equally solid mixture of the right marketing and partnerships with operators.

Rounding all of this up, as I’m now currently above the word count and our SBC Leaders Editor will shout, where do slots go from here? What does the future hold? How do studios innovate?

To engage and excite you need to stand out. In the mid to long run, innovation is undoubtedly key to surviving the content deluge.

However, a balance between innovation (that’s the 14th usage of this word in one form another in the article – who am I to say it’s overused), and familiarity must be struck.

Reinventing the wheel every month can push players in the wrong direction, while, on the flip side, a consistent outlay of reskins is simply not the way forward. 

Thinking outside of the box is crucial, and those that churn out the same, or incredibly similar, content will inevitably get left behind.

Casinos also play a crucial role. Supporting unique content through quality marketing and positioning is imperative to tipping the scales in the right direction

Should operators promote unique content in the correct manner, this would help foster, and further, creativity throughout the industry. 

It is simply not a numbers game. Quality must win out over quantity.