Crash games have mostly flown under the radar for the last few years.
That’s all changing quickly however, with the vertical already being touted as one of casino’s biggest growth opportunities.
In our two-part feature, we’ll talk to the industry’s first crash games pioneer, SPRIBE, and what the founding vision was – as well as talking to BetGames, Aviatrix and 1X2 Network to see if this is a trend that’s really starting to take off.
Starting with SPRIBE
Crash games first debuted on the market in 2018 with the launch of SPRIBE’s now-seminal Aviator.
Simplicity was key for the vertical’s pioneer and, according to SPRIBE’s CCO Giorgi Tsutskiridze, it was all about looking to offer something different.
“We wanted to redefine the experience offered by an online casino game. This meant innovating and looking to other entertainment options such as mobile games as well as the world of crypto.”
Indeed, the beauty of crash games is their simplicity – and this is arguably why they’ve performed so well. Easy access and low barriers to entry.
Tsutskiridze agrees. “Simplicity had to be at the core of the experience offered. We combined different components to produce a game that delivered fast action, social interaction and the ability to win big money from small stakes.
“From this, Aviator was born. We hit the market in 2018 with a clear mission of disrupting casino game lobbies and providing a never-before-seen experience to existing players.”
Creating the first crash game
“To develop Aviator, we first had to gain a deep understanding of player preferences. This meant thorough research and meticulous planning.
“We needed to think outside the box and beyond what had previously been done in the online casino space, pushing boundaries”, he continued.
It was certainly a case of thinking outside the box. What may seem such a simple idea now, SPRIBE was the first to innovate and create a product from it.
“Looking back, it really was something of a sensation. Capturing the hearts of gamers around the world at a scale never seen before, nor seen since.
“We identified the increasing curve format as being the perfect fit for this type of game and the aviation theme was a no-brainer.
“Building a community around the game was also important. So, we made sure it was multiplayer with things like leaderboards and the option to run tournaments.”
Looking back, they never thought it would take off so fast. “We knew we’d cracked the code with Aviator. But never did we think it would achieve the popularity and success it has done.”
And a success it has certainly been. Today, it’s played by more than 10 million people each month with the number rising.
The game has been developed to handle up to 10,000 bets simultaneously with more than 165,000 bets being placed every minute.
So, where’s the main interest coming from for crash games?
“Aviator made its debut in a small number of markets. This was so we could gauge interest and iron out any glitches. But so strong was the response that we quickly ramped up roll-out into other markets.
“Its core audience is the lucrative but hard-to-reach millennial and Gen-Z cohorts. In terms of markets, it dominates in Brazil, Africa (South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania), India, CIS, Italy, Romania, Croatia, Spain and the UK.
“The simple gameplay, fast action, social interaction and the chance to win big from small stakes means Aviator has broad appeal. Especially among sports bettors and those who like fast betting experiences.”
BetGames: The new high flier
In November 2023, BetGames debuted in the vertical with the launch of Skyward, which initially went live with Betway and Betano across global markets.
In BetGames CEO Andreas Koeberl’s view, crash games hold fantastic potential. With an established legacy of disrupting the live gaming sector, BetGames certainly knows a thing or two about innovation.
“It’s a fascinating market to be in because you have probably three or four games making approximately 80% of the gross revenue. The rest just follow, suffering from their lack of a good product. They think it’s enough to simply launch a plane into the air,” says Koeberl.
“Generally, it’s the same mechanic that has driven the success we’ve seen across the industry. There are a few experiments with other methods, but there are two or three suppliers that have really nailed it. There’s also one clear market leader with SPRIBE’s Aviator.”
SPRIBE has certainly set the gauntlet down for others to follow. Just like with SPRIBE, Koeberl sees the real potential for crash games as being a gateway for casino for sports fans and first-time players.
“We’re catering to the user – it’s really that simple”, says Koeberl. “BetGames is the go-to gateway between sports and gaming. We see this massive overlap within our player profile with rapid-play genres like slots and crash games.
“The boom in crash games is, right now, mainly in emerging markets, Africa, LatAm and CIS. The core, established markets of the world don’t really enjoy that much growth.”
Solving the challenges of crash games
So, what was BetGames’ experience in creating their own version of crash games?
“It’s interesting how many challenges such a project brings because crash games are deceptively complicated,” Koeberl says.
“At first glance, they’re simple. Like having an old Atari-style plane going into the air but the core elements, for example, cashing out, can be tricky to perfect.
“It’s not like a slot that is front-end driven where you basically have your own game. This is a so-called common draw game, so all players play the same session and see the same result.
“This makes it tricky to implement. You have to think about a player sitting in rural Brazil with a 3G network. We need to ensure that when they press cash-out they get their money and not an error because of the network connection.”
As Koeberl outlines, one of the big things that many in the industry haven’t got right is the importance of stability and reliability, which a common draw game of this type lives or dies on. And that’s why there were plenty of failures in the early days of the genre.
“There has been much improvement since then but there is still work to do. From a bonus perspective and also looking at localisation – which are two things that BetGames has invested a lot of efforts into.”
Crash games: Player profile
When it comes to players, it’s all about the profile. “We see this massive overlap within our player profile with rapid play genres like slots and crash, rather than live casino – and that overlaps a lot with the slots category, crash games and instant games,” says Koeberl.
“That’s also why we dedicated an entire vertical last year to this topic with a couple of titles out now along with Skyward because players simply demand it. We’re evolving what we do to match the evolution of players, moving with the shift in the market,” he adds.
In BetGames’ eyes this is a vertical that is definitely booming. Indeed, given the studio’s legacy of producing titles, one step ahead of the market explains its reason for entering the vertical.
“We see the key areas our partners focus on and where they invest their marketing and it’s all about slots, instant games, crash games, et cetera. These are the major growth areas but live casino and live entertainment are still there.
“We are a live supplier at heart and will always be. But we can’t ignore global market trends and those of our distinct BetGames players and what they want. Again, our mission is to convert sports-savvy players organically. This requires more than one category of games. Twain Sport was one piece of that puzzle and Skyward is another,” he adds.
Aviatrix: the NFT twist
Aviatrix is another key player that has made a real debut onto the scene in recent years.
As well as offering all the mechanics that crash games are famous for, the studio also harnesses a fresh twist, deploying NFTs.
Players are able to participate in the game using their own aircraft, which is actually an NFT (non-fungible token), which as many will know from the recent blockchain fame, gives unique ownership over their own aircraft.
Planes are unique in the blockchain code sense, “the more you play, the more experience you gain on a single plane and then the more money you can win in daily tournaments,” the company explains. The plane is owned by the player, who will have a chance to sell, exchange and transfer it to another casino.
So far, Aviatrix has attracted over 40,000 daily active users worldwide. Anastasia Rimskaya, chief account officer at Aviatrix, is delighted with its performance since launching.
“With Aviatrix, our aim was to elevate the crash game genre to create something truly special. Crash games have been growing in popularity for a few years now. But the player experience tended to be fairly limited, particularly when you compared them to the AAA, feature-packed slots games on offer.”
NFT-based engagement with crash games
Indeed, the NFT-based engagement and personalisation features have given the studio a real edge, as a digital asset players can customise, own and, soon, trade on a dedicated marketplace.
Rimskaya explains the thinking behind it: “What has helped us is that we’re trying something genuinely innovative while also showing that new concepts can scale really quickly.
“The NFT-based engagement mechanics we’ve incorporated into Aviatrix are genuinely game-changing and the speed at which players have taken to them shows that there is still room for fresh ideas to thrive in our industry.”
So, how do the NFTs work? “They are fully customisable,” says Rimskaya, “as mentioned, they will soon be tradeable on a dedicated marketplace. It is similar to a play-to-earn mechanic. Most crash games merely show the player a standard image of a plane, but we’ve actually created something that a player can personalise and grow attached to.
“One great multiplayer aspect alongside this is that as you play, you can see other players’ customised aircraft flying in the background of the game, creating a truly social element,” she adds.
“Our game also sits atop our own proprietary blockchain (SCR), which opens up interesting possibilities for us in the world of web3. Watch out for more on this in 2024!”
Standing out from the crowd
Is offering something new going to be key to standing out against other studios in 2024? Rimskaya certainly thinks so. That appeal is certainly one that catches the interest of next-gen players. When analysing audience demographics, Aviatrix certainly sees a diverse spread.
“The first thing to say is that the audience for crash games is growing quickly, so the ‘typical’ type of player is actually now a rather diverse group,” Rimskaya outlines.
“But if we were to look at profiles, players do tend to skew a little younger than slots or table games. Crash games have their origin in crypto, so players are often tech-savvy. There is also a greater element of control and choice than you find in most casino titles.
“Players aren’t simply hitting ‘spin’ and waiting for the result; they are making a judgement call on every bet. This appeals to audiences who may also enjoy console or PC games.”
For Aviatrix, it’s all about staying true to their first and only product. Rimskaya is passionate about that focus.
“We’re absolutely focused on a single product right now, our self-titled Aviatrix. What’s important to note here though is that we don’t treat Aviatrix as a normal casino game. Most providers build a new game, release it and then move onto the next game.
“Aviatrix is continuously being improved and updated with new features and functionality designed to keep things fresh and reward the loyalty of players. This includes a major redesign that we’ll roll out shortly and in 2024 we’ll launch a dedicated marketplace so players can buy, sell and trade their NFT aircraft. We’re committed to making Aviatrix an ever-evolving and improving experience.”