In the latest series of SlotBeats Spotlight, we take a closer look into the online world of branded slots. These titles range from movies, music to books yet how effective are they for operators to tap into an already established fan base? 

In the third episode, we asked our experts if the branded slot titles operators/developers produce tap into the already established fan base and if we could see developers work more closely with the film and entertainment industry.

With film/television having such a dominant position within the entertainment industry, does creating these slot titles tap into the already established audience and could we see slot developers work more in depth with the film and entertainment industry?

Catalin Bratosin, Head of Games Production, Pragmatic Play

Catalin Bratosin, Pragmatic Play: There’s no doubt that film and television are the most likely channels to look at when developing branded content. It’s a tried and tested route for games studios and there’s more potential to build on the market. As mentioned, it can tap into an already-established audience, but it’s important to not rely on this and develop a game that can be a standalone hit in its own right.

Peaky Blinders, for example, has done the heavy-lifting in establishing the creative environment, and it’s then our job to develop a game that resonates with the show’s fictional world in slot form. If we do that right and add our own slots expertise to the established brand, we know we’ll be onto a winner.

Carl Ejlertsson, group games director, NetEnt

Carl Ejlertsson, NetEnt: There could be more collaboration, but with the cost of investment, brand partnerships are not available to everyone. The entertainment and gaming industries are synonymous in many ways and there are real opportunities when the two come together. 

In NetEnt’s case, it’s been both a major achievement and a lot of fun to recreate the thrill of films and TV shows like Jumanji and Narcos in the online casino world. Being household names, the potential for these games to reach a wide audience was always going to be high, but what has kept players returning is our ability to expertly marry the brand elements with the slot experience.

Simon Hammon, CPO, Relax Gaming

Simon Hammon, Relax Gaming: Working with Film and TV brands is relatively well established both in the land-based and online sectors, offering the benefit of familiarity as well as the nostalgia that this can evoke. 

A few years ago, I thought this trend may have increased, but with so much content competition on the market there is a genuine question mark over the ROI on such endeavours.

Brands can of course be costly; upfront minimum guarantees combined with recoupable royalties eat into what is already a tight margin. Yet, a branded game doesn’t necessarily generate or turn into a higher-performing product. 

There are still lessons to be learned from other industries in terms of producing entertaining content, but in the current environment, I see a declining interest in the creation of branded content, unless, for instance, a new studio is looking to grab the attention of operators off the back of a blockbuster movie title.

Uri Cohen, VP OperationsSkywind Group

Uri Cohen, Skywind Group: Not only is there a future, but that future is looking brighter than ever. However, there is a caveat to this. The more ingrained these branded games become, the more sought after the higher quality they need to be and the more they need to answer for. 

If you don’t put in the effort to provide the spirit of the brand on top of the art and sound, then your game is not going to retain the players, and it is delivering a false promise. Doing this will effectively stop your ability to use a branded title. We work closely with the brands we acquire to ensure this doesn’t happen. 

To ensure that when players see Skywind is offering a branded title, they know they can expect to jump into the world they love already and engage with it in new and exciting ways. Branded titles are gaining momentum as entertainment continues to span multiple markets and genres. 

Movies are becoming tv series that are being introduced into games. This trend is seeing an uptick and we believe this trend is going to become something the audience expects to the point they will begin searching specifically for their favoured branded game.

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