For years, slots have been the undisputed leading game format in igaming, but the emergence of new formats is threatening to topple them from their throne.

One of the formats that is gaining momentum and shaking up the slots space is the crash game, which is attracting the attention of players, operators and suppliers in all areas of the global gambling market.

As players bet on the progress of hot-air balloons, aeroplanes, goblins and other varying themes, the aim of the game is to cash out before the protagonist, fittingly, crashes, receiving a multiplied bet amount when successful. 

While the phenomenon of crash games continues to excite the industry, we spoke to slot suppliers that have dabbled in the format to question the hype, find out why they’re flying high and discuss whether they could crash and burn themselves.

Malta-based developer ESA Gaming has often strayed away from typical slot formats with its game releases, with a variety of mine, roulette and blackjack titles to its name. So it was no surprise when it entered the crash games space with the release of Rocket Racers in October 2022. 

SBC Leaders, in what has become a two-part CasinoBeats special, spoke with Thomas Smallwood, Head of Marketing at ESA Gaming, to examine what makes crash games so popular, the potentially detrimental effects of the game style and the format’s origins in crypto casinos. 

SBC LeadersWith Crash games becoming ever more popular among developers and players alike, do you think they will be a passing fad or could they become as established as online slots?

Thomas Smallwood: I think the sustained success of some of the premium crash games on the market, such as Aviator, highlights that this vertical is not a passing fad. That being said, it’s not a direction that every new game studio will look to go in as they develop new products.

Whenever a new genre of game has some success, it means there is something to learn for the wider industry, and it’s natural for everyone to see if there are elements they can include in their own product roadmap.

Whether crash games will match the volumes and popularity of slots depends on the genre being able to evolve and encompass more features. The cookie cutter approach will not work in the long term, it needs successful variations.

SBC LeadersDo you think the rise of crash titles can have any detrimental effects on the industry and its players?

TS: As ever in the gambling industry, the dangers are problematic behaviours on an individual level, and disreputable businesses. The games themselves tend to have a low entry cost and are very straightforward to play, but this is also true of any national lottery.

The low-risk, high-reward nature of a crash game is a major point of attraction for new players, and this is an area where individual jurisdictions will look to regulate in order to safeguard the user. Ultimately, user safety and player protection are the most important aspects of any real-money product.

SBC LeadersWhat do you think attracts players to crash games that they may not get with slot titles?

TS: The swift-resolution element is a factor, as is the fact that players feel they have control of the game, and also the low risk versus the high reward. 

To this extent, it is a patently demonstrable level playing field for all those involved, and this is an area in which crash games, especially multiplayer versions, are very attractive. Ultimately, players want to know their gaming experience is both fair and fun.

SBC LeadersWhat was the initial origin of crash games and how has the format developed since its inception?

TS: Crash games really came to the fore with the birth of crypto gaming, built on the provably fair, blockchain-based concepts that drove forward the crypto casino space. Initially, it existed on the fringes of the gaming industry, but now we’re seeing more and more widespread adoption of crash games by major operators.

At its core, gameplay hasn’t really changed – players have to cash out before the ‘crash’ occurs, but the more risk they take, the more potential there is for higher rewards. Its simplicity is key, but the wider consumer base has warmed to it, with the popularity driving more investment into the genre.