Original game features and multiplayer functionality are set to be key to the success of the next generation of slots, but jackpots are likely to remain the single most appealing factor for players, a survey of operators for this week’s CasinoBeats Slots Festival has found.
The one-day Festival on Thursday 4 February will see a host of leading developers showcase their latest games and as yet unreleased titles to an audience of operators, affiliates and content aggregators. The slots will all be available in free–play mode in a dedicated online environment, giving attendees involved in product selection the opportunity to play and compare the new games.
Asked what features their players would look for in the next generation of slots, 90 per cent of the operators said jackpots would be either ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’.
The findings also suggested that new features (80 per cent), interactivity (80 per cent) and multiplayer / community games (70 per cent) will be in demand. There was less agreement about the importance of original themes (50 per cent), skill-based games (40 per cent), storyline / narrative (30 per cent) and soundtracks (20 per cent).
The operators were also asked what features they would like to see games developers work on. The most common responses centred on social and community features (with friendly competitions and improved leaderboards among the suggestions), while there was also interest in original game mechanics, the exploration of new themes, and improved skill-based games.
While the respondents showed some interest in exploring new games themes, the majority also saw the value in familiarity, as 70 per cent said they found slots sequels to be useful for player acquisition and retention.
A scenario question in the survey asked the operators to consider what features could help to maintain player engagement in the event of stake limits being imposed for online slots. The suggestions included side games, rewarding losers, more skill-based games, better optimised hit frequency, and double-up games that allow players to stake winnings for the chance of a bigger prize.
High-volatility slots emerged as the players’ favourite game type, with 80 per cent of operators describing them as ‘extremely popular’ or ‘very popular’, ahead of five-reel slots (70 per cent) and Megaways (60 per cent).
Bonus rounds and progressive jackpots were found to be the key game features for players, as 100 per cent of operators described both as being ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’ to their customers. Multipliers (90 per cent), free spins (90 per cent), and wilds (80 per cent) were also identified as crucial features for slots.
The traditional fruit machine was named as the most popular game theme among players, ahead of fairy tales, card games, ancient Egypt, and films / TV shows.
Anyone attending this week’s CasinoBeats Slots Festival will have plenty of opportunities to pick up further valuable industry insights during the day’s content programme, which runs alongside the interactive games showcases of developers such as Scientific Games, Microgaming, Netgaming, Kalamba Games, and Habanero.
Sessions include a keynote from Cristina Niculae (CEO, Interactive Gaming Group), a fireside chat with Simon Hammon (chief product officer, Relax Gaming), and a How to Make Money From Online Slots workshop hosted by Levan Kavtaradze (director of gaming, PokerMatch.com). Attendees can also look forward to an interview in which Nik Robinson (CEO, Big Time Gaming) and Enrico Drago (SVP, IGT PlayDigital) lift the lid on the development of the Wheel of Fortune Megaways title.