Online casino gaming offers players a greater choice of product than ever before, meaning that developers of slots, table games and other game formats are tasked with providing experiences that not only capture players’ excitement, but prioritise it.
This was the topic of conversation in one of the latest panel discussions at Malta’s CasinoBeats Summit, as representatives from both suppliers, operators and affiliates outlined the importance of meeting players’ expectations and optimising their experiences.
Led by SBC’s Managing Director Andrew McCarron, the ‘It’s not just a game – delivering immersive experiences’ panel began by questioning whether the introduction of new formats, mechanics and bonus features requires a level of education for the player for it to truly captivate them.
Providing insight on this topic was Chris McGowan, Head of Gaming at Scatters, who suggested that, although there is a need for players to understand what they’re doing, too much in-game education can stunt player engagement.
McGowan said: “It is important that they understand what they’re doing, you don’t want the game to be way over complicated and they don’t have a clue where to start from. We’ve seen some games coming out where before you actually play the game, you first have to see a demo on how to play it.”
“I DON’T THINK WE SHOULD LOOK AT MOBILE AND DESKTOP IN THE SAME VIEW”Matthias Ciappara, CCO at CompetitionLabs
“The player is coming there for a relaxing time, and a good time, but they’re not there to come to school, right? If you can’t shout it to a passing car and they can’t understand it through a car window, it is already way over complicated.”
While mobile gaming continues to be a staple vertical for playing online casino products, the panel moved on to discuss whether bringing the desktop experience to mobile players might be a cause for concern.
Matthias Ciappara, CCO at CompetitionLabs, believed that comparing mobile and desktop experiences is somewhat unnecessary, stating: “I don’t think we should look at mobile and desktop in the same view.”
“When we’re playing on mobile, you have a basic screen size and my eyes can only consume so much information before I get anxiety. If you have too many things in one go I either don’t understand what’s happening or feel anxiety because I’m not sure what to do.”
“If a player starts losing money and is not understanding what is happening, the player is never going to come back.”
Looking into the psychology behind Ciappara’s notion of focus and player retention, McGowan explained that the average player can only focus on so much at once, and when a game session becomes tough they tend to focus on one thing only.
He stated: “In psychology, we’ve got a magic number seven. Seven plus or minus two. Some people can focus on nine things, but I might focus on about five things. So, reels that are more than that become extremely complicated.”
“One thing that is quite interesting is a group of researchers found that when they’re [players] concentrating on the game and they lose pretty much everything going on around them, eye tracking software has found that the only thing they are focusing on, or 90 per cent of the time, is actually the in-game balance.”
“YOU NEED TO HAVE A FULL VISION OF HOW A PLAYER WILL EXPERIENCE YOUR PRODUCT”Kristjan Farrugia, CPO at WKND
“When we have too many features we are actually distracting from this, it’s harder for the player to maintain being in the zone of their game session. So, while some certain features and animations are nice, it comes down to: do you really want to captivate their attention, or not?”
The panel were also joined by Kristjan Farrugia, CPO at WKND, who, due to his role, was questioned whether UX teams should have an earlier involvement in developing new gambling products. To put it simply, Farrugia replied “100 per cent”.
He continued: “You need to have a full vision of how a player will experience your product, and that would mean that everything should evolve from that. Ultimately, we’re here to entertain people.”
Bringing a supplier’s perspective to this subject, Ciappara responded by stating that he definitely agrees, explaining: “I can design the most amazing mechanic ever but if it can’t be presented to a player in an undisciplined fashion, that feature won’t work.”
Ciappara added: “Bringing the UX team as fast as possible, to even just the creation phase, makes much less back and forth when you’re four months down the line and you start realising that the feature isn’t going to work, because UX will not click.”
“It’s about trying to get as many people as possible in the room that can bring different perspectives and ideologies to create a more cohesive product.”
The final panellist providing insight on the topic of immersive experiences was Jason Attard, Head of UX & Design at Game Lounge, who touched on the subject of operator patience when it comes to offering new games and features.
Upon being questioned how much time a provider has to convince an operator when supplying them with new products, Attard stated that the igaming sector is “a very fast paced industry”.
He continued: “When it comes to stuff like this, it is going to be very challenging, especially when we are always trying to be agile while delivering the best product that we can.”
“UNLESS VR TECHNOLOGY CHANGES TO WHERE YOU DON’T NEED BULKY HEADSETS, I DON’T THINK IT WILL TAKE OFF”Chris McGowan, Head of Gaming at Scatters
This led to Attard voicing ways in which suppliers can work around the time deficiency when supplying games to operators, citing reskinned products as an easy way to reduce the turnaround time and guarantee operator satisfaction.
With igaming constantly evolving alongside emerging technological advancements, McCarron posed an interesting question about the possibility of utilising VR in the online casino world, due to its prominence in the video game industry.
However, most panellists were quick to explain that there is too much in the way between VR and satisfactory gaming experiences.
“Unless VR technology changes to the point where you don’t need bulky headsets, I personally don’t think it will take off,” claimed McGowan.
“We’re saying that players want to be playing in a five-minute break, or a lunch break or while waiting for the bus. Do people really want to be walking around with a heavy box just to play a slot game?”
While Attard suggested there is a clear potential for VR with a case for table game usage, suggesting roulette as a good fit, he pointed out that players using VR for social reasons like playing with friends “might as well just go to the casino”.