“Money Train 2 was probably the biggest game release in the industry,” according to Simon Hammon, Chief Product Officer at Relax Gaming, who joined CasinoBeats and SlotBeats’ Business Journalist, Mollie Chapman in the latest episode of Beyond the Reels to discuss the company’s CasinoBeats Game Developer Award-winning title, Money Train 2.

Launched in 2020, the sequel to the developer’s original 2019 Money Train title ‘smashed records’ in its first week of release while also taking CasinoBeats’ Slot of the Year 2021 award at last year’s CasinoBeats Game Developer Awards.

The 5-reel, 40-payline video slot sees four main characters leave the Wild West behind and journey to a steam-punk inspired, post-apocalyptic world.

Pinpointing the slot’s features as “one of the key things that made it so appealing”, he added that “the fact that those features can pop up in all different scenarios and combinations really keeps the player experience quite unique.

“It’s all about the free spin feature within Money Train 2 and I think that’s what players have really latched onto. 

Revealing what it meant to the company to be awarded the 2021 CasinoBeats Slot of the Year award, Hammon said: “We’re really proud of that award and it means a lot. I think, especially in 2021, Money Train 2 was probably the biggest game release in the industry.”

Speaking on the several adaptations made to the game since its original launch and why Relax decided to continue to the franchise, Hammond noted that, while the original Money Train was “very well received”, when developing the game, the team had many more features that they wanted to put in. 

“There were actually so many ideas that we thought we could iterate on that mechanic, and that’s where Money Train 2 came through,” he explained.

Highlighting the impact the addition of the Bonus Reels mechanic has had, Hammon explained that “it’s opened up the money train mechanic to a market where it wants to fast-track to the action but doesn’t have a buy feature available to do that and bypass that.”

Moving onto his thoughts on the impact sequel titles might have on player retention and acquisition and whether they affect the popularity of original titles, Hammon noted: “In some cases I would say it can, more often than not, negatively affect the original title, especially if the follow-up isn’t strong. 

“Money Train 2 is actually one that did completely the opposite. It helped the original game and it didn’t cannibalise on the original traffic because the sequel was so good. 

“Once you have something really great it’s difficult to create an even better variant and I think Money Train 2 was one of those examples where, if you’re going to do a sequel, you’re going to do it well and put the love in and create something different rather than just trying to use the IP for some leverage.” 

“I would say it’s tough to make a good sequel that is going to captivate a new audience and actually grow above and beyond.”

He continued: “I think what you need to do is ensure that the sequel has some familiarity, but what you need to do is ensure that you really try and differentiate the second or third offering with new features, new functionality, new win potential, new flow, etc. so that it’s different enough that players find it interesting. 

“You’ve really got to invest time to make that sequel strong.”

Looking forward to the CasinoBeats Summit 2022, Hammon noted: “Obviously it’s always nice to be recognised for great game design and great product development and we hope that the players and community appreciate what Relax is doing on that front. We try to produce high-quality stuff ultimately.”

Concluding on what players can look forward to seeing from Relax Gaming for the rest of the year, Hammon revealed that the company has got “a lot cooking”, adding: “This year we’ve got some pretty exciting stuff coming. 

“If we’re talking about Money Train 2 – and I’ve alluded to the fact that we have so many great ideas and so many different extensions – then maybe there might be another one coming this year… who knows?”