Q&A: Warren Steven, Golden Nugget
Golden Nugget’s senior director of product and operations Warren Steven speaks to iGB about the slots strategy that has helped it establish an unassailable lead in New Jersey's online gaming market
What marks out the Golden Nugget iGaming offering as being particularly attractive to players? Do you feel this is largely down to the games on offer, or the way in which they are presented to players?
The Golden Nugget product and games offering go hand in hand in the attractiveness to the player. You cannot have one without the other and if the balance shifts vs the market then it will negatively affect the overall player satisfaction. You cannot offer the largest portfolio of games without quality UX that allows players to effectively navigate, find, highlight and filter content.
How important is discoverability - do players tend to focus on games they know from the casino floor, or are they looking for something they have never played before?
We see that new players will initially gravitate to what is familiar to them and those will be recognisable casino floor games. Many of the long tail games, which stick around the top rankings, are familiar casino floor games. However, we do have many outliers from online only games that gather a strong number of supportive players in the early days of the launch due sticky math models and rich bonus features.
How does this influence the placement of titles on your site? Do you look to simply populate the pages with the best-performing games, or do you tailor this to promote certain titles?
We let the performance of the games control the positioning on our site, but more importantly, we give the games enough time in the key sections to gather enough data to determine its ranking. We use a combination of figures to determine a ranking scale, which then determines the positioning.
What games have proved particularly successful for you in New Jersey? Are there any surprises, or are certain games just a hit wherever they are offered?
Quality land-based and local jackpot games stick around our top rankings, but there are certainly a few surprise performers. The Golden Nugget Casino team seldom openly make bold predictions on games being top performers. Seasoned casino operators will likely tell you that they may have expected a new game to crush it, and it underperformed, and some games were set to be poor and have crushed it.
How has the growing diversity of the slot development space affected you? Do you feel there’s a risk of 90% of games being buried, considering the sheer numbers most operators now offer?
There is certainly a risk of games being buried due to the volume of content. However, the onus is on the operator to ensure the players have the website tools available to explore, discover and experiment. We see games drop off the rankings all the time and then suddenly pop back up in the top positions due to the ease of use of our site. We also feel strongly about making it easy to allow players to ‘try before you buy’, which is demo mode. This allows the player to quickly, and without restriction, get a feel for any game before they make a real money wager.
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