The stage is set for next month’s SBC Summit Barcelona to be the launchpad for what has previously been described as an “ambitious program of development” for ESA Gaming.

This was first disclosed earlier in the year upon the appointment of Josefin Uppeke as Head of Game Production, a role tasked with maintaining an EasySwipe drive, as well as leading a fresh collection of slots of crash game content.

However, a significant development is set to be welcomed when the industry descends on the Catalan City from September 19-21, with the group’s stand (GC74) set to play a crucial role.

During the build-up to the much anticipated event, Uppeke has been speaking to SlotBeats about the current slots ecosystem, a potential limit of innovation, blurred lines across verticals and if we will see non-traditional elements merge into this arena.

SlotBeats: We see hundreds of new slots released a month, often with similar themes and mechanics, leading to market saturation. Does this need to change?

Josefin Uppeke: It’s no secret that the industry is currently awash with content. From big providers ramping up activity to more and more boutique entrants, the myriad slot games will only grow. 

I think it’s important that we as an industry strive to come up with new content, but from the perspective of a smaller studio like ours, we also need to feel comfortable with the games that we release to maintain growth.

Over time, everyone needs to step out of their comfort zone, but it also comes down to the purpose of the games. There’s loads of Egyptian games or Buffalo games, but this is because ultimately, players love to play them. So, we may see similar themes, however it is rooted in data, appealing to player preferences.

SB: Are the similarities in themes a way to attract players to similar content, or a lack of invention and imagination on the industry’s behalf?

JU: Certain themes will always be popular and attract players, and I believe this will continue. However, I personally believe in taking a classic theme and adding a twist to it, so it feels new and unique.

It’s not necessarily based off a lack of invention and imagination; rather, it’s about finding the right balance between familiarity and innovation to engage players in new and exciting ways, to take something that they find familiar and then revealing something new and exciting to them.

SB: Is the industry at the limit of innovation when it comes to pay lines and cascading symbols? Where is the next great brain race towards innovation?

JU: Whilst increasing or variable pay lines and cascading symbols have been popular and widely used in the industry, there is definitely room for new pay mechanics.

Megaways, for example, was one of the first pay mechanics that stood out from the traditional ones and continues to be incredibly popular.

However, innovation doesn’t stop there. I believe we will soon witness the emergence of new and exciting pay mechanics, and our own studio is actively exploring and developing such ideas.

SB: Will we see more and more verticals blur the lines, giving unique cross-sell opportunities from providers going forward?

JU: The convergence of different verticals will undoubtedly continue to evolve, and there is still much to explore in various areas. For instance, I believe there is a lot of potential in the daily jackpot universe and other sections. With our existing widget, I see room for additional features that can connect all games in a fun and exciting way, creating additional unique cross-sell opportunities for providers.

SB: Is the slots space dying out a bit, and is the industry looking elsewhere for new ways to entertain players?

JU: I don’t think slots are dying out any time soon! They have always been loved by a diverse range of players, including streamers, and will continue to be so.

Slots offer convenience and accessibility to players of all skill levels, regardless of their location. While the industry is exploring new avenues to entertain players, slots will no doubt remain a prominent and beloved form of entertainment.

SB: Do you expect we will see non-traditional elements merge into slots?

JU: Yes, I believe we will see non-traditional elements merging into slots in the near future. As the industry continues to evolve, incorporating innovative elements from other forms of entertainment will become more common. 

The combination of verticals offers a whole new world of enjoyment for players, be it from virtual or augmented reality, or the rise of live casino game shows which incorporate slot-style mechanics, to crash games.

There is inspiration all around us, and combining non-traditional games, such as our mine content, with classic slot mechanics will be an area of huge engagement by providers in the coming years, with the aim of enhancing the overall gaming experience and offering players something fresh and unexpected.

SBC Summit Barcelona banner

SBC Summit Barcelona, taking place from September 19-21 at Fira de Barcelona Montjuïc, will bring together 15,000 delegates, offering them a platform to delve into the cutting-edge via a dedicated ‘Casino & iGaming Zone.’