Slot sequels must “stand on its own two feet” whilst delivering an experience the “player is seeking”, explained Fantasma Games’ commercial director, Fredrik Johansson.
Speaking to SlotBeats on the launch of the studios’ latest slot, Heroes Hunt 2 Megaways – the sequel to its original title, Johansson explained the impact sequels have on player retention and described how the title differs from its predecessor, which he noted as a “totally new game in reality”.
He revealed: “It takes the characters from the original title and some of the bonus features but everything else has been completely reworked based on the feedback we received from Heroes Hunt. So players will be familiar with the characters and the narrative, but the experience they receive will be totally different.”
Pressed on the impact sequels have on player retention and acquisition, Johansson highlighted the “obvious” interest in a sequel among players of the original game – “but that does not guarantee it will be a success”, he added.
“The game must still stand on its own two feet and deliver the experience the player is seeking. In terms of acquisition and retention, operators can launch campaigns around the sequel knowing that the original game was a big hit with their players. We have several big tier one operators that will give Heroes Hunt 2 great exposure during the launch.”
Discussing why the sequel was created and whether there’s a growing want from players to play sequels, Johansson remarked: “I really love the level up format of the original title that sees players progress through the game and that we have used in other titles such as Flower Fortunes Megaways.
“These slots are performing incredibly well and so we are looking to develop more of them. Because Heroes Hunt was such a success, and because we had the feedback we needed to make it even better, creating a sequel that once again used the level up format made complete sense to us.”
Describing the process behind the development of the sequel and how the initial idea was developed into the final product.
He revealed that the idea for the game came from the success of the original Heroes Hunt title, explaining: “The game was incredibly well received among operators, streamers and most importantly players, and we received a lot of feedback. We considered this feedback and realised we could use it to launch a second instalment of the game but take it to the next level to deliver an even more engaging and entertaining player experience.”
While Heroes Hunt 2 features the same characters from the original, almost everything else has been “reworked and improved”, including the bonus features, narrative, animation and sound.
“During the development process, we shared prototypes of the game with operators and streamers and from their feedback were able to make additional tweaks. The end result is something truly special and we believe Heroes Hunt 2 has the potential to be even more successful than the original,” added Johansson.
Walking us through the game’s range of features, Johansson remarked that the “most interesting” are the features that are assigned to the three characters – the Archer, Witch and Warrior.
Shedding light on the Werewolf and Vampire free spins and how they work, Johansson began by explaining the former: “Free spins are combined with lots of wilds to significantly increase the chance of players landing winning combinations. While the feature is active, the Werewolf attacks the reels and whenever he pops up, he does so with different wilds around him.
“Vampire free spins has been carried over from the original Heroes Hunt but this time instead of simply chasing the dragon character, players must defeat it. When they do, they trigger super free spins that come with a monster x100 multiplier.”
Questioned as to whether releasing a slot sequel affects the popularity of the original title, he revealed that “This is a bit of an unknown.”
He explained: “Of course, new players that try Heroes Hunt 2 for the first time might then try the original, so it might drive play around Heroes Hunt. We have been promoting the original Heroes Hunt quite heavily in recent months to drive awareness of the series ahead of the launch of Heroes Hunt 2 so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.”
Towards the backend of 2020, the industry was seeing a bigger influx of slot series with stronger narratives. Looking at whether players crave more story-driven slots and whether this could lead to more successful sequel titles in the future, Johansson commented: “Story and narrative-driven slots have been our thing since day one. We believe it brings more substance and depth to the game, and forms part of our approach to developing slots that go beyond gambling.
“When compelling narratives are combined with interesting mechanics and innovative features, the player experience is elevated to another level. We also believe that characters and stories will enable us to create a connection between our games.”
Concluding on how Fantasma will look towards developing sequels with other titles within its portfolio, Johansson explained that, if a game is a success and the company sees areas of improvement that warrants it launching a sequel, then it “will certainly go down that road.”
He added: “I don’t think we will set out to create sequels, but if the opportunity presents itself then we will take it.”