Guy Hasson gives casinos wanting to also engage their players away from their physical locations some useful advice on getting started in the world of social slots.
Social slots are cropping all over the place. Real-money casinos with real-money games are creating social games to increase their players' loyalty, time on machine (even if it's just a virtual machine), monetisation and more.
And yet, it's a tricky path to walk. The social world plays by different rules, real money casino players like different things when playing online, and sometimes you don't even have permission to use your actual games in your app.
You want to focus on your loyal players, those who live nearby and visit your establishment once or twice a week. And you want to give them an extra experience of your casino while they are at home.
Here are five tips that should help you create an app that does exactly that:
Tip #1: realise why your KPIs are going to be skewed
Your KPIs are going to be skewed. If you take a look at monetisation and retention numbers from across the social slot world, it is basically guaranteed you won't get the same numbers. Working by those standards will lead to bad decisions.
The important thing is to understand why your KPIs are skewed. The truth is actually good for you: your audience already likes you. Any other new social game has to get players to learn the trust the new game, a process which may take months. But you are aiming at your existing players, players who are loyal to you and like your games.
Therefore, if you market to your audience, your open rate should be much higher than a social game's open rate. Your retention rates should also be higher. Your monetisation rates will vary from the norm – although which way they will vary depends on what you do in the game.
Tip #2: learn how to adapt if you can't use your casino's games
You will surely have legal permission to allow players to play your games in your casino, but you don't necessarily have the permission to use those games in your app. That puts you in a bind. You want to give your loyal players the opportunity to play the games they like at home. If they can't play them, what's the point, right? Wrong.
Here's how you adapt: look at the stats for which games are hottest in your casinos and find games you are allowed to use that fit the patterns that you see. For example, say your top game is a game with an Asian theme with animals, and the main color is red.
Find a game you're allowed to use that is as similar to that as possible: Asian theme with animals, and if you have roughly the same graphic style and color, then take that one. In this case, you want to match the graphic experience first. That will give players the feeling they are playing similar enough games.
The mathematical experience (RTP, volatility, etc.) doesn't have to match the games. Just make sure that the mathematical experiences players like also exist in the games you offer.
Tip #3: transfer the physical casino experience into the app
Can you put real pictures of your casino in your app? If so, do it. Can you dress your hosts and hostesses in the same way they dress in the casino? Again, if so do it. Is your casino split into areas? Split your app into areas as well.
Are there specific sounds that appear in your casinos? Specific names to specific areas? Specific words the hosts use? Adapt as many of those as possible. Can you insert a video introduction in which the players walk through your casino? In short, do everything you can to give the player the feeling they are in the place they like, that they are at home.
Tip #4: give your players physical perks
Your players can now play your games at home. Give them a reason to come back to your real world casino. Maybe chips, towels, something from the gift shop — anything that you can offer and that it is legal for you to offer.
The money you 'lose' in giving them gifts is actually money gained, since none of your players will walk into a casino, get one free thing, and walk back out. Anything that brings them back is money you will earn.
Tip #5: never cheat
Obviously, you won't cheat to make players lose their money. But don't cheat to make them gain money either. Don't give them a big win in the beginning. Don't give them a positive experience you control when they enter your game.
Players who see that you cheat — and some always will — will think that if you cheat in their favor, you will cheat in your favor as well, later on. That will burn your game, and it may burn your casino as well. Simply rely on the math and on tip #1: your players already like you, they want to like your game, so give them the games with their actual math, and never ever cheat.
Creating an app requires a lot more considerations in terms of the various gamification tools — anything from jackpots to tournaments to more complex features — and thinking about how your players will like them. You need to know how to build your economy based on existing games, an economy that brings people back to the casino and not just to the game. These five tips are the building blocks on which you can build your app.
Guy Hasson worked for Playtech for three years before becoming Playtika’s Content Manager, responsible for the content of Slotomania and Caesars Casino. He is now a social slot consultant, specializing in game popularity. His website: www.hassonslots.com