With the sector seeing much uniformity in its product and gaming output, new game development and content partnership have now become critical issues.
Team SBC & EIG Berlin caught up with Andy Harris Commercial Director of Realistic Games to discuss new game development in igaming, in-game impacts and player gaming trends.
Andy Harris has consulted various operators and business services in igaming. In 2012 Andy became Commercial Director of Realistic Games, helping the developer secure multiple partnerships with some of the industry’s leading operators.
SBC: Hi Andy, pleasure to meet you. Can you summarise the process that Realistic Games undertakes when it develops a new game for its portfolio and clients?
Andy: It all starts with game concepts: themes, features, model and graphics. We then proof these concepts to see if everything adds up and will be appealing to players. This second phase is the most extensive one as we want to make sure every game we deliver is an enjoyable user experience. If it passes this stage, we then create the game model to sit on our ReGaL games platform. Then the front end is delivered, including the graphical components and game flow. Once we’re happy with these elements, it’s tailored to each individual channel, internally tested, then regulatory tested by a third party. Finally, it’s sent to the test environments of or clients before being good to go!
SBC: In what has quickly become a saturated market, how do you make your games stand out from your competitor’s content? Where do you see Realistic Games’ edge in the market?
Andy: We think there are a number of elements. For a start, we tailor the content properly to each device and operating system. Our game design has tremendous attention to detail too, such as realistic ball and wheel movement on roulette and authentic looking shadows. We provide configurable player preferences for a number of our games and ensure that we create responsive UIs. We spend a lot of time perfecting the flow of the game, a key element that is often neglected. We also try to create maths models that are interesting and varied. Guiding all of this is a total consideration for the players as they are at the heart of much of our decision-making.
SBC: How much customer feedback do you take in when researching a game theme, and why are some themes more popular than others?
Andy: We talk to customers on an on-going basis about game types and new ideas. They aren’t generally involved in the development stage as they’re happy to leave that to our experience and expertise. But regular communication with them is essential to innovation. Generally, our approach to themes is that we want them to be as inclusive as possible. We’re surprised at some of the brands utilised by some suppliers as we think they turn large segments of customers off straight away. The flow and user engagement below this superficial level is far more important. These are what makes players come back after the novelty has faded. I don’t think there’s a particular magic ingredient to a theme. If there was – and I knew it – I probably wouldn’t be answering these questions!
SBC: Many have commented that there appears to be a uniformity in the casino products and content being served to customers. What should operators and B2B service providers do to combat this factor?
Andy: I suppose it depends what we mean by uniformity. Yes, there are lots of iterations of roulette and blackjack, but the quality of the execution varies wildly. We differentiate on these games by creating a true to life, exceptional playing experiences. The evidence strongly suggests that this helps to deliver higher revenues than those generated through competing games. We also try to combat uniformity through innovation. For example, providing three reel slots, which few others do online, creating new online game types, like Pull Tabs, and introducing unique game features into our slot games, like the tumbling dice in 6 Appeal and the upside down reels on Super Graphics Upside Down
SBC: What future technologies do you feel will have the biggest impact on game creation and content. What technology advancement should the industry be preparing for?
Andy: I’m slightly sceptical about people who say we’ll soon be playing roulette wearing Google Glass or spinning slots on our hover boards! They need to ask themselves if we can make an enjoyable gambling game on each new device that comes on the market. I think we’d be far better making the most out of advances in the technology we already have and are proven to work for gambling products. We haven’t scratched the surface with Mobile yet. With better and cheaper smart devices and connectivity, greater penetration and wider availability of wireless it will grow and grow.
SBC: You will be attending the upcoming EIG Berlin conference, as an igaming content creator what factors do you want to see and hear at EIG Berlin 2014?
Andy: Yes almost certainly. I’m looking forward to meeting some familiar faces and introducing ourselves to a few others who share our passion for innovation and originality. I think the most interesting conversations will be around some of the recent regulatory changes, which will be in place by then, and Point of Consumption Tax, which is on its way. Understanding how people are dealing with the practicalities of both will be very informative. There will doubtless be discussions around mergers and acquisitions as this will be one of the first times people have got together at a big event since things came into force. Our industry could have a very different look to it this time next year.
Andy Harris Commercial Director Realistic Games