In the concluding part of SlotBeats Spotlight, we take a look at the alterations of RTP between operators and suppliers, and ask our experts if these companies should be able to alter the RTP on their slot titles or if it should have an overall percentage and be left untouched.
Should operators and suppliers be able to alter the RTP? Or should it be set as part of the game design and left?
David Little, Lightning Box: Prior to online slots, UK players did their first gaming on fruit machines, which are different to their casino equivalent or online slots. Fruit Machines tended to vary the RTP on the fly. So, if the machine was running at a high RTP, the chances of winning would be reduced in subsequent games until it lowered again. It was common knowledge that expert players would watch out for novice players who had a losing streak only to jump on the machine and reap the rewards of the increased RTP.
In regulated markets, the RTP of the game needs to be verified by the regulator. An approved game will have an identifying number that relates to that game including the verified RTP. My understanding is that if you change the RTP, you’d need to change the identifying number. You cannot simply alter the RTP on the fly.
In the land-based market, it is common for a game to be approved with multiple RTPs. Some casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, for example, insist on an 85 per cent RTP, while the same game can be found in local casinos at 92 per cent. Each installation must be approved by the gaming commission along with any changes in RTP, so it’s not an easy thing to do and requires regulatory oversight to complete any change.
My experience in online is that games are typically launched across all markets with the same RTP. For example, our game Chicken Fox is launching in New Jersey this week at 95.49 per cent. It has also been released at the same RTP in the UK, Sweden and Italian markets. Personally, I don’t think it is ethical to change an RTP of a game once it has launched. I’ve heard some reports of unscrupulous operators, in non-regulated markets launching a game at 97 per cent to lure in players, then winding it back to 94 per cent to milk them. I fail to see the logic in this, as players will feel burnt in the long run and they will leave the game and casino as a result of this sort of sharp practice.
Rob Lee, Realistic Games: This has always been an interesting debate and I know that some suppliers offer operators a choice of RTPs. In my personal opinion – and that of Realistic Games – each game should have one RTP that is never changed. Maths is a huge part of the design of any game.
In fact, it is the engine around which the whole car is built. Reducing or altering it fundamentally changes how the game was originally designed to play. What that doesn’t say, of course, is that all your games should have the same volatility, this is completely different.
It’s about having a diverse range of games with high, mid-range and low volatilities, so there is something to suit all tastes and different markets without impacting the RTP across any of those types of games.
Arcangelo Lonoce, Habanero: At Habanero, our slots come with up to four possible RTP ranges. We provide a customisable service, meaning that it is down to operator partners which RTP they select. Such decisions are usually based on the target demographics and commercial strategy in question, but alterations should only be carried out in specific circumstances and must be communicated clearly to customers.
We normally advise against shifting a game’s RTP downwards once it is live. We strongly believe that playing a casino game should be a rewarding and immersive entertainment experience. Our average RTP is 96% and Habanero’s most successful titles, which tend to have a high volatility, wouldn’t suit a lower range.
Ivan Kravchuk, Evoplay Entertainment: The Gambling Commission undertakes rigorous checks on RTP before certifying a game, so products are transparent for both players and operators. Bettors are therefore provided with a clearly outlined and fully regulated overview of a game’s RTP.
From our perspective, alterations to a game’s RTP are permissible as long they are transparently presented to players and regulated accordingly.
Carl Ejlertsson, Red Tiger: Absolutely. RTPs are an operator’s price point. We take the view that we should be able to assist them with adjusting that, so they can remain competitive in the market in which they operate, as long as it is done in a responsible and compliant manner.
I’ve heard it said that the game is formed around the RTP and the maths, and you wreck it by making changes. Personally, I think that is lazy mathematics. Changing the RTP doesn’t change the soul of the game. Or maybe it does if you are not very good at scaling games! I Don’t see tweaking the model as being detrimental if you’re smart about it.
Jan Urbanec, Endorphina: This is a very hot question in the players’ community. From the suppliers’ point of view, we want all players in every country to experience unaltered games as it was intended when first released.
We definitely do not agree with allowing operators to change the games’ RTP at their own discretion.
There are however cases that operators can be forced by jurisdictional requirements to either change the RTP of a game or remove the game from their portfolio.
This case is understandable for us and we work together with operators to solve situations like these when the regulation enforces game changes. However, these changes should be communicated to the players transparently and clearly.
To read part one of SlotBeats Spotlight, click here
To read part two, click here
To read part three, click here
To read part four, click here