While multiplayer gaming continues to shape and evolve the entertainment industry, we’re yet to see a paid-for multiplayer slot title succeed in the online casino sector.
With this in mind, we turned to the CasinoBeats 100Club to find out just what challenges are presented by multiplayer slots, asking:
Why haven’t multiplayer slots made larger inroads into the online casino space? What challenges do they face and what growth opportunities do they create?
Suzanne Jiggens-Johnson, Marketing Director at Slots Temple: We’re constantly baffled at the number of businesses that haven’t made more inroads into multiplayer games. At Slots Temple we offer Slots Tournaments where players compete against each other to climb the leaderboards and win cash prizes.
Player feedback tells us our players love the social nature of our tournaments and often we see friends competing against each other within a tournament. Bringing a social element into our products provides players both access to their favourite games alongside some playful competition within their social groups.
Anthony Gaud, CEO at GaudHammer Gaming Group: The development of sophisticated and reliable software that facilitates seamless, real-time interaction between players is a considerable challenge. It is essential that the underlying infrastructure is capable of supporting a high volume of simultaneous players, while ensuring smooth gameplay that is free of lags or errors.
There are a variety of regulatory frameworks concerning online gambling in each state and country, which will pose challenges to the mass implementation of multiplayer slots. From my experience, it may be difficult for new innovations like multiplayer slots to gain traction in some jurisdictions due to regulation regarding online gambling.
Players who are used to conventional slot machines may prefer their solitary, straightforward experience. Adapting to multiplayer slots, which can involve collaborative or competitive play and additional rules, might not appeal to existing slot players who are used to playing alone. Having said that, I have tested prototypes of these concepts with millennial players and video game enthusiasts, and they have proven extremely successful which bodes well for future audience expansion.
Slot machines with multiplayer features often require more strategic thinking and player engagement. The creation of short- and long-term, goal-oriented rewards and gameplay may prove challenging for developers without previous experience developing multiplayer video games.
Until there is clear evidence of demand for multiplayer slots, casinos will be hesitant to invest in developing or adopting this technology. Casinos are likely to wait and see what works, which creates a chicken-and-the-egg scenario for development, which has further delayed the rollout of multiplayer slots. I believe that in the short term, online casinos and websites in the EU will be the best place to experiment with multiplayer slots.
There will be a lack of awareness of multiplayer slots among most players, leading to a slow adoption rate and insufficient demand. It will be necessary for casinos and manufacturers to engage in a promotional/educational campaign to explain the advantages of multiplayer gaming. The additional expense will prevent brick and mortar casinos from adopting multiplayer slots quickly.
Multiplayer slots enable the exploration of new gaming dynamics, including collaborative and competitive play, bringing the world of slots closer to those of video games. Casinos will be able to offer a wider range of gaming experiences as a result of this innovation, potentially making them more appealing to both new and existing players.
Helen Walton, CCO at G.Games: It’s a really hard problem – technically hard, liquidity and marketing hard, user and product design hard. Multiplayer slots is – in some ways – a new genre, and that takes time, and sometimes a couple of false starts, to develop. There’s also only just starting to be true commercial pressure to do something different.
Many of the original concepts in multiplayer are borrowed too heavily from social, for example. People don’t have the same feelings about sharing slot wins, and spend, as they do with social or skill games.
So, what’s interesting is to look at what we can learn from successful real-money multiplayer games such as bingo, lottery and poker, to see how we can tap into what might be related motivations in slots. I would argue that no multiplayer real money slot game yet exists – we are working on that.
Alex Lorimer, COO at Gaming Corps: I look at companies like HungryBear Gaming and they seem to be moving things in this direction; their games with multiplayer battle tools seem to be getting a decent level of traction.
The slot space has been very robust across a long period of time, but when it comes to significantly changing things and offering products to a player demographic that is used to familiarity, it takes a lot of gumption and insight to really shake things up.
You have to do this without a fear of failure, but the issue comes when people then expect consistency and continued innovation, which puts a lot of pressure on development teams.
Any developer that can manage to do this though will certainly carve out a niche position in the market, even if it could take some time to really reap the benefits of doing so.