Over the last 18 months or so, we’ve seen the online sector become a central focus within the casino industry, resulting in a greater demand for online content. 

One area which has felt this influx is the slot sector, with slot developers and providers continuing to release new titles whilst constantly in the process of developing new ideas, design, branding and gameplay. 

In the first episode of our SlotBeats Spotlight series looking into slot design, we asked our experts if slots are still being tailored for current players and how it can attract a new audience. 

SlotBeats: Across the slots sector, we’re seeing far more titles become diverse visually, yet are slots still being tailored for current players, and is enough being done creatively to attract a new audience of players?

Marcus Honney, AvatarUX: As an industry, we need to be humble enough, and aware enough, to admit that there is always room for improvement and that there is no universal formula for creating the ‘best’ slot from a visual or mechanics point of view. 

However, it is important to highlight that many studios are investing a lot of time and resources into studying players’ preferences and responding to their needs. 

In our view, this is really the core of our business. Not only for the visual part of the game, but overall, meaning mechanics, features and game performance in general.

As with every trend, preferences are always shifting so adaptability is the key for attracting a new audience of players. We always mention this in the context of technology, but it is also very valid for the visual aspects.

Ivan Kravchuk, Evoplay: Initially, game providers were placing a significant amount of focus on the ‘slot’ part of the game, whereas nowadays we can see a real evolution in the visual component of the gambling product, due in part to a big step forward in the world of technology.

In 2021, we can now easily integrate advanced solutions into slots that seemed way beyond our capabilities just a few years ago. Thanks to drastically improved broadband speeds across the globe, more powerful smartphone processors, and constant innovations in technology, we have more opportunities to impress players than ever before.

The possibilities are endless – we can load more objects into the gameplay, animate them, and most importantly render them in 3D technology. This allows us to see a flat picture of a character or symbol on the screen from all planes – which is particularly popular with modern players right now. 

The world continues to evolve at an impressive rate, so who knows what discoveries and innovations are only just around the corner.

Rob Procter, SG Digital:  Slots that implement a slick front-end design are increasingly popular with players and that’s being driven to some degree by the new generation of players coming through. 

They’ve grown up on video games that feature ultra-realistic graphics and expect something similar with slots. A game that’s visually easy on the eye is just as important as the math model to some players today. 

It’s an area that we’ve been focusing on at SG Digital this year, introducing games such as Perfect Potions Megaways and Invaders Megaways that feature outstanding graphics. These have set the standard for future games developed by our studio, as players have truly appreciated how aesthetically pleasing they are. 

Of course, not every title can be built in such a way and there’s a lot to be said for classic-looking games. Developing a diverse portfolio with multiple game themes and graphics is fundamental to attracting a wide audience of players. 

Kenny Dahlsjö, Lady Luck Games: There have been plenty of examples in recent times of really great looking games. I think studios have really upped their game to make the products as attractive as possible. 

The design involved is a million miles away from what we were seeing even five years ago, given the advances in technology. I think that is being driven by the expectations of modern players, many of whom are arriving either directly from video gaming or at least having experience of its rich animation. 

Of course, the circle that everyone needs to square is balancing the desire for rich, immersive gameplay with the requirements of loading a game on a mobile device. It might be the most beautiful game in the world, but players aren’t going to hang around if it takes an eternity to load or take up all their data to play it. 

Arcangelo Lonoce, Habanero: Well, a lot of what exists now didn’t exist 15+ years ago. We have seen incredible development and innovation in terms of gameplay, maths, visuals and characterisation – which no doubt has resonated strongly with new players. 

Innovations do not necessarily need to re-invent the wheel, rather provide variations of existing themes. Some are popular, some are less so – all this means is that the online space has come to function according to a series of standards that are accepted, and that everyone can know. Players are attracted to casino’s core elements, rather than those that try to be something else, and we must never forget that. 

As an example, our industry has sometimes tried to create products that have mimicked video games, often achieving beautiful results which have however not been too successful. By mimicking video games, you are abandoning the logic of the slot machine, and at this point you risk alienating your target market which surely cannot be good.

Of course, we all know that a huge new audience has formed itself online, and all they know and understand is the digital space, which is filled to the brim with references that do not necessarily exist across land-based casino and retail. 

In my eyes, the industry does not lack creativity – however we know and have said it many times, that when you talk about gambling, you need to make sure you ride the fine line between respecting traditions and respecting player psychology, otherwise you are destined to fall short.