Pragmatic Play on slots today
Pragmatic Play chief business development officer Yossi Barzely discusses how slot development is evolving as studios work to ensure their games can stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
How has the slot development sector changed in recent years - have you had to make changes to your product strategy as a result of increased competition?
It goes without saying that the development of video slots is in a state of continual evolution, and it’s true that a provider needs to keep its finger on the pulse and continually assess new market trends in order to stay ahead of the competition.
One of the most crucial factors in ensuring that consumer demand is always met is a unified vision and a technical and design team committed to meeting it. If a development team is not engaged in the products they are producing, then the quality will suffer. Trends come and go, but throughout the years the popularity of expertly-modelled games with engaging bonus features and rewarding mechanics has never waned.
Developing slots means being proactive in relation to market movements, regulating jurisdictions and the presence of growing competition. However, commitment to a unified vision for crafting original video slots with great gameplay as a central tenet remains the core contributing factor to a successful product strategy in this business.
Is it enough for developers to simply create high quality content? Do your clients now expect additional features such as tournaments and promotional tools?
Understandably, in the face of intensifying competition and an increasingly saturated market landscape, many providers to the igaming industry are turning to a range of new tools to deliver an experience capable of both attracting and retaining players.
The importance of social media in how many conduct their day-to-day lives is showing no signs of dipping, and many slot developers are turning to social sharing features, as well as gamified, competitive elements like leader-boards that allow a degree of interaction between a player base.
While it is great to see unique spins being placed on the traditional slot formula, it remains crucial that these don’t distract from the overall gameplay experience. Fans of video slots may enjoy gamified and social features for a while, but what drives stickiness and ultimately keeps them coming back is well-modelled gameplay and exceptional underlying maths.
Ultimately, the fundamental tenets of slot play must not be diluted, because reducing a game to the sum of its distractions runs the risk of turning core slot players off.
Considering the enduring popularity of titles such as Wolf Gold, do you feel it is still possible to create a blockbuster slot in today's market?
Developing games with lush graphical capability and immersive sound design can go a long way to drawing in players initially, and several studios have looked to achieve this through branded game deals, undergoing significant costs to attain the look and feel of the latest Hollywood blockbuster or hit TV show.
Wolf Gold has underlined that building a product with a recognisable, inviting theme and strong central mechanics can drive long-term success, and those opportunities still exist for providers with the technical and commercial capability to take advantage of them. It has demonstrated a level of ‘stickiness’ on the landing pages of our tier one operating partners that few games can match, and we will continue to iterate and build on its success as we develop iGaming’s next big hit!
Have content aggregator platforms hindered studios' growth, by making them compete against a larger group, or have they helped 'democratise' the industry by making everyone's games available from a single source?
At Pragmatic Play, we are comfortable pursuing both direct integrations and platform agreements, and have gone live on a number of major platforms, while also penning direct agreements with operators including PokerStars and Kindred Group.
Put simply, if your products entertain and appeal to players, then that quality will speak for itself regardless of whether they are integrated directly or via a platform. We give our developers the freedom to push the boundaries of what is possible in slot gameplay, and they repay this trust time and again by creating video slots that consistently out-perform our competition.