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Social casino: dirty trumps glitzy in slots

| By Stephen Carter | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Slots creators too often forget the formula for what makes a game popular, argues social slot consultant Guy Hasson

Slots creators too often forget the formula for what makes a game popular, argues social slot consultant Guy Hasson

Whenever I talk to seasoned companies in the industry, they usually exude a tone of supreme confidence. “We have experienced mathematicians who have worked for company XYZ for the last eight years.” Or: “We have veteran game designers who have been designing games for company XYZ for the last 20 years.” And so on.

That confidence is certainly justified. Veterans know what they’re doing, and by definition they’ve been doing it a long while, and seeing results for a long while.

But it always strikes me that the one big mistake that every big company is guilty of making is bound to keep being made if companies keep being seduced by the confidence of those who have been in the industry for a while.

Let me tell you a story about the time I worked for one of the biggest real money video slot companies.

The two people who decided what goes into a slot noticed that the more glitzy games, the games that took more time to design and develop, the games with more features, the games with more animations – those games were not actually getting better results than the old, dirty games with no real features and no animations.

At the end of each game development, they came to the conclusion that it is better for them to develop the old, ‘messy’, imperfect games rather than to create glitzy games. They even asked me, a newbie at the time, to keep them honest and keep them on the right track.

Then the process of creating a new slot began. Their tendency was always to create something that they liked, something glitzy, special, something that would catch their eyes. They wanted to compete with the competition’s newest, glitzy games.

As hard as I tried to keep them on the path they had decided on, they would always drift towards the new and shiny and technologically wondrous.

They would spend more money and more development time on the new, glitzy game than they would have spent on a simple, ‘dirty’ game. And the statistics would always hold: some glitzy games are super popular, some are not. Some ‘dirty’ games are super popular, some are not.

Glitz is not the winning criteria. Not in slot games.

As I became an advisor and worked for more and more companies, I saw this process repeated over and over again.

The people at the top pushed for the things that they liked. It didn’t make sense to them that old and ‘dirty’ would work better than new and shiny. And it always bothered them that the competition was creating more and more shiny things.

There is an underlying reason for this. And it is that slots, and gambling, are conceived of as somewhat dirty. That’s how the players see it, even those who like slots.

But don’t get insulted, because this is the point: slots are liked by the players because they think of them as dirty.

Therefore, when  a slot appears dirty, appears unfinished, appears imperfect, and it’s not glitzy but the opposite – then that slot has a good chance of being liked.

In slots, imperfection works in your favour.

And that is the one mistake that big companies keep repeating over and over again.

Can you break the cycle? Can you find a way to create good ‘dirty’ slots? We’ll see.

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


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