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16 B 2 B Essential Guide to ... Slots CHARTWELL TECHNOLOGY

The vital ingredients for the mix

Chartwell Technology marketing director Tammy Schuiling reveals what goes into developing a slot game, such as the firm’s latest - Vampires vs Werewolves.

Chartwell’s flagship slot Vampires vs Werewolves, con- tains a ground-breaking board-game style bonus round and an industry-first clash scatter feature. To find out more, the product team was asked about the challenges in developing new features and themes for best-of- breed slots.

Product manager Alan Maisonet noted that when conceptualis- ing slots, Chartwell’s team derives inspiration and strategy from a number of sources: Industry trends in online and offline gaming, existing game performance, competitor benchmarking, pop cul- ture, client feedback and player focus groups. In fact, the board game style bonus round in Vampires vs Werewolves was driven in large part by player focus group results, which reported that play- ers want more interactivity and control or decision making while playing slots.

The creative team brainstormed ideas based on this data, which led to the exciting and unique bonus round concept in Vampires vs Werewolves. Lead artist Mikell Hagen added that the familiar- themed bonus game evokes a nostalgic, emotional connection with players. It’s often the ‘chicken or the egg’ adage that applies to developing new slots. Sometimes the theme comes first and suit- able features are conceptualised based on that overall theme. In other cases, feature sets are developed first and then customised to suit the slot’s theme.

IGT The many elements of a good slot

IGT vice president interactive Alex Kelly explains how his firm approaches the online version of the slot machine.


hat elements make up a good slot game in today’s market?

Many factors combine to make a market- leading slot title such as the game design, user interface and pace of play, but get- ting the bonus play right is fundamentally important. This is such a key area to play- ers; if gaming expectations are met dur- ing bonus play, then they are far more likely to continue playing or return anoth- er time.

Players also gravitate to and stay with games that feature ‘comfortable novelty,’ i.e. gameplay innovations that earn a player’s interest without scaring them off with complex features. Famous brands matter. Players are be- coming increasingly sophisticated and discerning; they are demanding games with more depth and variety. The right brands are an important acquisition tool. A licence holder would only allow their marks on a game of outstanding quality.

Do online slots play differently to land- based slots?

The differences are mostly presentation- al. The actual gameplay itself is proven so there is little need to change it for online. There are some small differences in play- er demographics. For instance, online tends to be younger and more male orien- tated, however, a good game with solid math and fun gameplay stands the test of time in either medium.

How do you adapt online games for a mo- bile platform?

Our mobile development history stretch- es over eight years. This gives us a great understanding of mobile player charac- teristics and what makes a compelling gaming experience for an increasingly ‘app savvy’ audience.

The game essence must be captured and key features must be identified before being replicated in the mobile version. We encapsulate what is special, unique and compelling about the original title. IGT is always careful to remain faithful to the original design to ensure players feel fa- miliar with the mobile version.


There are numerous other factors that are considered when de- veloping new slots. Player demographics always play a role. Most games typically target a specific age range or gender category. Chartwell’s team believes that Vampires vs Werewolves has mass appeal across all demographics due to the combination of its popu- lar vampire theme, innovative and interactive game play, stunning graphics and eerie soundtrack. Early performance results show that players agree.

Players ultimately want to be rewarded while they’re being en- tertained. Game graphics, sounds and feature sets all play equal roles in developing slots that contribute to the overall experience. A slot can have slick graphics but low payback, so while there may be excitement and hype right out of the gates, if players feel they aren’t being rewarded, they simply won’t play the game. Chartwell consistently balances all of these factors with the goal of increas- ing long term appeal and loyalty for all their online casino games and it is especially evident in Vampires vs Werewolves. Chartwell is promoting Vampires vs Werewolves with a mi- crosite at, through e-Blasts and via so- cial media on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Readers are encouraged to take the tongue-in cheek quiz on the microsite to see if they’re a vampire or a werewolf.”


Keeping ahead with innovation

Smartphones and tablets are pushing forward innovation and Microgaming is ready to deliver, according to Mike Hebden.


icrogaming’s head of casino, Mike

Hebden, believes that it is not just slots but all casi- no games and indeed all gaming will benefit dra- matically from increased smartphone and tablet distribution. He thinks that there will be a general move away from ‘point and click’ towards the ‘swipe and dou- ble tap’ world of the smartphone and tablet. Hebden explained: “The traditional experi- ence of sitting down at a desk in front of a PC is now just one of many ways in which some- one may go online. Those software providers that can continue to excel in meeting the de- mands of the traditional device users, while at the same time successfully handling the transition to new devices will perform strongest.” According to Hebden, Microgaming has a

very strong mobile offering, with products covering the wide spectrum of mobile de- vices in the world and experience built up over many years of development and player feedback. He added: “We were also the first to release a real money casino app in the App Store at the end of last year. So, we have long recognised the importance of mobile and we are well positioned to capitalise on the oppor- tunity that the growth in smartphones and tablets represents.”

How do you maintain that balance? When developing for a mobile platform, there are certain restrictions imposed by the nature of the device including screen size, processor power, memory con- straints, connectivity speeds and latency. A mechanism we typically employ is to re- duce the complexity of graphics in favour of clarity.

In the mobile world, speed is para- mount, so being economical with data is vital - the size or weight of a game is im- portant as it will have a direct impact on the player experience. To keep the weight of the game acceptable, great care is taken to re-purpose the original assets, for example, by simplifying animations and transitions.

He is also bullish about Microgaming’s ability to innovate, citing the firm’s ground breaking slot tournaments: “We lead the way in developing online social casino experi- ences. We launched the first online multi- player slot experience with Wheel of Wealth and we now have a variety of multi-player style games. We also offer Blackjack Tourna- ments and created the world’s first online slot tournament millionaire when we ran Grand Slam of Slots in 2009. In June this year we ran Grand Slam of Slots Tournament II, which in- cluded the biggest ever online slot tourna- ment prize of US$2.43m.” Microgaming is meticulous in the planning of the slot tournaments, working with the customer base in order to be able to offer something that will appeal to every different type of player.

Hebden commented: “There is an enthusi- astic and very knowledgeable player base, with players being very specific about what they want to see, whether the featured games, the type of tournament, or the dura- tion. Some players like to have re-buys avail- able so they can try and beat their initial score, or add-ons so they can extend their base score, while others prefer one entry tournaments. We try and balance everything to maintain the broadest possible appeal. Whatever the player wants, there’s always a tournament available.”

BettingBusinessInteractive • AUGUST 2011

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