Volatility is currently living up to its name within the slot industry as it provides one of the biggest dilemmas facing suppliers. 

Keeping affiliates happy is a key priority, but creating highly volatile slots to satisfy the community has started to create a rift between player, provider and operator. 

Moderating a panel session at SiGMA Europe titled ‘High, Higher and Highest: is volatility spiralling in slots?’, Fiona Hickey, Director of New Business & Markets at Push Gaming, questioned whether the nature of variance and volatility is becoming out of control. 

Fellow panellists, Nikolay Lobov, Regulated Markets Global Director at Mascot Gaming was quick to deny that the state of volatility was uncontrollable. 

“I would agree that volatility is increasing nowadays, and that is a given fact, but is it out of control? Of course not,” he explained.

Lobov went on to suggest that studios can find ways to balance the needs of the operator with the pressure to entertain players through branded IPs and mechanics.

He said: “We are always interested to attract more players and to keep the audiences and that’s why we always stick to a way of keeping high volatility and the interest of the players, but we are still not going into extreme expenses of the operators to keep our business model.

“A good example of it is a recent trend in the development of slot games. I can refer to rockways technology, we call it, and the more common name is mega ways. These are the type of games where you can really achieve some features of high volatility.

“For example, you can bet a dollar and have a win of 10 or 20,000. That can keep very high interest with the high rollers, and at the same time, it’s a really low volatility game as across each and every spin you can win small prizes.”

Also contributing to the panel was Playson’s CCO, Tamas Kusztos, who when asked whether the impact of volatility changes depending on the regulatory standpoint of certain markets, declined the idea. 

Kusztos stated: “No, I don’t really think that, because there is the regulated aspect. This is not something you can change. This is a given. So when it comes to a provider, or an operator, it’s the player experience that I think is changing with the volatility.”

He was also asked if he believed the influx of highly volatile games in the industry could have damaging effects on responsible gambling, to which he suggested that player satisfaction comes first. 

“In my opinion, it’s not really about the responsible gambling aspect,” he commented. “It’s about the entertainment aspect of a slot machine.

“We also have to think about players who have an average amount of money to deposit, say 50 euros. Are they really going to enjoy buying x500 times their bonus at ten cents. No. 

“Everyone’s an adult, and they can choose what sort of entertainment they would like, but is this really entertaining for players?”

Alongside Labov and Kusztos was Elena Shaterova, CCO at 7777 Gaming. She found that there was a pressure for suppliers to consider responsible gaming, but that this can be combated by offering a wider range of products.

Shaterova commented: “As a supplier, yes, I think we have some responsibility in what kind of games we’re putting into the market. We should be concentrating on diversification of portfolio, we should offer the players a different type of game, some players like different types. 

“We should create games with clear bonuses, with easy triggers, to make players know what to expect of the game and to play like they feel, making them feel comfortable.

“[We should] help them to determine the volatility just because they should feel comfortable, and they have got an idea of what they can lose and what they can win from the exact game.”

“we all know that these games attract maybe 70 per cent of the players who go to casinos”

Elena Shaterova, CCO of 7777 Gaming, commenting on high volatility titles.

After Shaterova declared this desire for diversification, Hickey soon asked how her company balances its portfolio to meet the needs of both operators and players.

In response, Shaterova said: “It is about the strategy of the B2B providers, and if you want to target customers and people who already are players, you definitely are creating very high volatility games. 

“If you decide to create a portfolio with the medium or low volatility games, then you might approach it like you want to target more newcomers, people who are not playing yet, to educate them, make them play to bring them into the casino. So this is the way as a B2B provider you would like to be presented in the market. 

“Maybe the balance is very good from this position, but maybe it is still good to create medium and high volatility games for the casinos because literally, we all know that these games attract maybe 70 per cent of the players who go to casinos nowadays.

Shaterova continued: “If we should think about the newcomers, the people who might not even have the years to play. These people won’t get attracted to high volatility games, which is well known. 

“Nowadays, they will be more attracted to soft games and more gaming concepts, which are not so high volatility. It attracts them with bonuses and features.

Returning to speak to Kusztos, Hickey was keen to understand how his brand factors in the operator’s needs when they strategise the creation of a slot title. 

Commenting on this notion, he explained: “The way we do things is that we always have a target market in our mind, but we always think of the global audience. So we are not going into extremes in localising our content, but every time we make a game, we have a particular geo in mind that we think will work very well. 

“But, on the other hand, we also think that this will be able to work globally. And sometimes we are super, super surprised what happens. Sometimes we are aiming for Italy and then it becomes a success in Romania more than Italy.”

From his own perspective, Lobov added: “Regarding our portfolio in terms of volatility, I think it’s pretty balanced. We have both games and we have a scale of volatility that we can recommend. And the idea is maybe for us to work closer with casino managers to explain how a particular game can perform and what they can deliver.

“That’s always a strategy, I think we have our own recommendations and ideas, our own data and analysis with how the games should perform with the operator.” 

Lobov continued: “So we offer to start with a certain game, and they can generate their audiences. For some audiences, of course, the goal is higher and higher volatility.”

“There is a big difference between reality and what you see on Twitch”

Tamas Kusztos, CCO at Playson

Before rounding off the panel session, Hickey posed a question to Kustoz regarding the effect of streamers on how we perceive volatility, to which he suggested that they bring a false perception to not only this aspect but the slot industry as a whole.

Kusztos said: “I think about it quite a lot actually because on screen when you’re watching an entertainment show, which is what streamers are, this is exactly what you want, the excitement, the big wins. But what people tend to forget is that an average player will not have unlimited balances. 

“What you see in the YouTube compilation in 10 minutes, this has been put together in three months of gambling. It has added a lot to volatility because it gives a lot of entertainment if you have unlimited funds.

“When you watch a streamer, this is what I want to see. Huge wins, big emotions, them high fiving all around and whatnot. But we have to look at it as a series or a TV show, rather than how gambling actually is. 

“How gambling actually is, is that you go on, deposit on your phone, you play 10, 15 minutes, and you either run out of funds or you win enough that you want to withdraw, in an optimal case. 

“There is a big difference between reality and what you see on Twitch, and this is something that is important for the customers to understand this well.”