The overwhelming volume of slots hitting the market week on week is not lost on anyone, however, just what is it that players crave in order for these to become a hit within desired jurisdictions. 

In our latest CasinoBeats roundtable, Charlie Jacka, Head of Product at Blueprint Gaming, Ivan Kravchuk, CEO of Evoplay, and Mike Collins, Game Product Owner at Thunderkick, ponder if the industry has developed a habit of making games a little too complex.

CasinoBeats: The slots with the most longevity are often the simplest – do studios pour too many resources into volatile and complicated games in an attempt to stand out? 

    Charlie Jacka, Head of Product at Blueprint Gaming.

    Charlie Jacka: There is no definitive answer to this. Every company has their strategy relative to their player base. Some studios target a particular audience focusing on themes, volatility or mechanics, giving them more time to commit to development and research.

    This then allows for implementing complex mechanics to well-executed games that are only released a few times a year. Whilst we are always keen to try new mechanics, our goal is to ensure the gameplay within our titles is easy to understand for our players whilst sustaining an immersive experience, that allows us to develop en masse throughout the year.

    The key is to ensure players easily understand the nature of a title and can get behind its engaging approach. Our host of games based on globally recognised IPs are a prime example of this.

    Players are intrigued due to the concept being based on a movie or TV show internationally recognised, but the gameplay remains stimulative but not overbearing, leading to an all-encompassing player experience.

    Ivan Kravchuk: Developing simple video slots is a proven approach, making it an attractive choice for most suppliers. This is evident in the popularity of some of our biggest hits such as Fruit Super Nova, Hot Triple Sevens and Hot Volcano, which are very straightforward.

    While there is always an appetite for these games, if everyone started making only simple slots, the market would become monotonous, with minimal variety and differentiation. It’s also important to anticipate players’ changing preferences. While some players like more straightforward games, others are adventurous and look for exciting experiences with new features and mechanics. 

    Based on my experience, a successful and long-lasting game is one that is easily comprehensible, making players feel more engaged and confident. Simplicity is always more user-friendly than complexity but true art makes advanced content look simple, understandable, and exciting.

    Mike Collins, Game Product Owner at Thunderkick

    Mike Collins: Whilst many of the best performing slots of all time are simple in terms of their features, design, and mechanics, I think it’s too simplistic to say that that is exclusively the case. It may well be a bit of a trend at the moment, but there is still room – and always has been – for variety and complexity. Simple slots tend to appeal to a wider audience because of ease of access.

    There is little or no education required. As a result, more complicated slots do come with a greater risk as some players won’t get them or won’t invest the time to do so. But the reward often justifies that risk, and you can attract a cult following to a game whose quirks set it apart from the mainstream. Whilst it’s not a simple answer, the truth is both types of games can perform well and there is room for both in any portfolio.

    CB: Are we seeing more convoluted content due to the market’s competitive nature, because it’s what players want, or because there’s so much content out there that they’re forced to differentiate?

    Ivan Kravchuk, CEO of Evoplay

    IK: All of these factors are at play. The global igaming market is projected to grow to $153.57bn by 2030, showing no signs of reduced competition. Player expectations are also evolving as they increasingly value quality, exciting promotions, and community engagement. If companies want to maintain and grow their market positions, they must be inventive and innovative to stand out amidst the abundance of content available.

    Using this approach, Evoplay created Adrenaline Rush: Super Boost, an example of a slot with modern bonus types but presented in a way that is familiar to players. It features three types of boosters, free spins, scatter and car symbols, the racer feature, and additional multipliers. Early data from the game shows players respond well to this kind of innovation as they look for content that brings something fresh to the experience without being complex or difficult to understand.

    MC: I don’t think it’s necessarily one or the other. In comparison to when I started creating games, there is an awful lot more content out there. More and more titles are being released on a weekly basis too. Studios need to differentiate in order to stand out, which leads to more experimentation within game design.

    Generally speaking, more experienced players will seek out the innovation that flows from that experimentation and are more likely to be engaged by something new. But there is an irony in all of this, of course, because many of the most experienced players in the market are the people who created the slots. Nobody pushes the boundaries more than the people that want the boundaries pushed!

    CJ: A combination of the two without a doubt. The slot space is incredibly congested and so studios are constantly seeking opportunities to distance themselves from competitors. Naturally, this often entails developing mechanics which are slightly more complex and offer elevated gameplay.

    Captivating players by focusing the functionality on them as individuals is crucial, and through this, Blueprint has been able to establish itself as a market leader. Complexity does not always guarantee results.