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Bringing innovation to the table

| By Hannah Gannage-Stewart | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Table games can be more than just a commodity, argues Realistic Games commercial director Robert Lee

Treating table games as nothing more than a commodity shows a lack of awareness of player behaviour and is costing operators in lost revenues, according to Realistic Games commercial director Robert Lee.

Compare today’s slot games alongside the early versions of yesteryear and the contrast is stark.

More sophisticated animation, better quality sound, math models that engage players, and a far better user experience is just the beginning.

The same cannot be said for the vast majority of online table games, with many still just a poor imitation of the real thing and yet to advance from early iterations.

That they have suffered from a lack of love and attention is surprising for a range of products that often account for up to 50% of an operator’s revenues.

I believe that this stems from the mistaken belief that they are all the same and therefore can be treated as a commodity.

Recreating authenticity
In a world of changing player behaviours, it is time for a change. For those who either began or still play these games in land-based casinos and have since migrated online, the experience couldn’t be any less authentic.

The way these games look, sound, and feel can make a huge difference to their popularity, with players looking to be both entertained and immersed in the action.

The phenomenal success of online live dealer products shows that these players are looking for an authentic experience.

If they are not getting it with RNG-based table games they will vote with their feet, in the same way that underwhelming slot games are quickly cast aside.

Of course, not everyone who spins a roulette wheel on their phone or deals a hand of blackjack on their desktop will have been at their local casino at the weekend.

In fact many of the younger generation may not have stepped foot in land-based premises at all.

For this audience, brought up on sophisticated console gaming, the UI of the game is just as important as the UX and they are even more unlikely to avoid inferior products in favour of more satisfying entertainment.

With advances in technology there is currently no excuses for not creating smooth, slick, and engaging table games equipped with authentic graphics and sounds.

The roulette wheel should spin smoothly, complemented by lighting effects to give the impression of a 3D wheel and table.

The ball has to mimic a proper ivorine roulette ball as it decelerates before bouncing and ricocheting around the wheel and nestling in a number.

A jerky 2D wheel partnered with a poor imitation ball simply won’t cut it with these players.

The explanation for the continued existence of an inferior product is that development costs have to be passed on to operators and therefore erode margins.

Quality over quantity
However, a better user experience is always favoured by players – who drive revenues for everyone, no matter what the revenue share.

The natural extension of this belief has been for some operators to adopt a build rather than buy approach. Looking to reduce costs, they have created their own games in-house, removing the need to pay third-party suppliers a revenue share.

However, a reduced outlay doesn’t necessarily mean more revenues, particularly if the game is an inferior product to that available elsewhere.

Many operators will take three or four versions of table games like roulette and blackjack and leave it to the players to decide which they prefer to play.

Lately we have seen a shift in approach from quantity to quality. With space limited in the mobile version of a casino lobby, operators can’t afford to have valuable space occupied by inferior products that players tend to eschew and, thus, these variants will then generate less revenue.

For those players who migrate to better quality games the change cannot happen soon enough as these will provide them with the immersive entertainment they desire.

Those who are kept engaged will continue to return to games that boast the most realism, coupled with a UI and controls that are intuitive and easy to use.For operators it is time to invest in innovation and reap the rewards.

Robert Lee was appointed commercial director at Realistic Games in December 2017, having been instrumental in growing the supplier’s product and client portfolio after joining as senior commercial manager in early 2016.

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