Most social slot startups fall by the wayside, but as evidenced by several games coming out of nowhere to dominate niches in the last 12 months, this isn't due to there being no room for new entrants, but they are making the same mistakes time and again, writes leading social slot consultant Guy Hasson. Here he lists the five mistakes that kill 99% of new slots.
So you’re starting a new social slot game? Good!
You know this is a billion dollar business. You want in. Yet dozens of new companies crop up every few months, with most of them failing.
Are they failing because they’re making mistakes or because there is absolutely no room for new social slot companies? The answer is the former.
Just in the last year, at least two games have come out of nowhere to dominate niche markets: Scatter Slots and Old Vegas. Plus, there are a few more waiting in the wings with great KPIs that haven’t begun to market yet. These may be the next hot games of 2016.
So it is possible for new games to enter the crowded market. And now the responsibility lands on your doorstep.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen that new companies that fail repeat the same five mistakes over and over again. Each of these mistakes will kill your business. Avoid them and you immediately have an edge over your competition.
So, here are the five mistakes that kill 99% of new social slots.
Mistake #1: Assume your players play to win
New gaming companies, afraid to lose new players, will often shower the players with gifts and (fake) money, with small wins and big wins. These companies assume their players like to win. And, sure, they do.
But the dirty truth is that social slot players play to lose. They assume they’ll lose, they know they’ll lose, they only enjoy winning because the odds are stacked against them. If they win when the odds are in their favor, they won’t like the game.
It has been shown again and again that when players are showered with wins, they’ll play the game, enjoy their wins, and the next day they’ll play a different game, one that gives them the experience they’re looking for.
Actionable Tip #1: Keep your RTP at 97% or lower, but never higher.
Mistake #2: Appealing to the wrong age groups
New companies know that the age of the social slot player starts at age 45 and only goes up from there. They try to break into a new niche by appealing to the younger audience: teens and twenty-somethings.
They create a game that’s hip and cool, that speaks the latest lingo and has images and themes that reflect the latest trends.
The problem is that a slot game is basically this: Press ‘Spin’. Press ‘Spin’. Press ‘Spin’. Press ‘Spin’. And so on, repeatedly, for seven hours a day, seven days a week, months on end.
The truth is that there is nothing in the world you can do to get teenagers and twenty-somethings to press ‘Spin’ for hours on end each day for months. They simply have other things to do. So you may get them to play, but you won’t monetise them in any real way. Not with a slot game.
Other games are childish – using themes that would only appeal to children (cuddly bears, dolls, etc.) Not only will children never play social slots in a way that reliably monetises them, but that also alienates your much, much older core audience.
Actionable Tip #2: Assume your players are 65. Sure, some are younger and some are older, but if you assume 65, you’ll appeal to all of them.
Mistake #3: Assuming players want excitement
Players want excitement, right? Who doesn’t! Players play games to have excitement, and the more excitement you give them, the more they stay to play. That is right. For all games, except social slots.
Take a look again at what the essence of the game is. And keep in mind that this game is played by tens of millions of players a month across the world. The game is: Spin… Spin… Spin… Spin… For hours and hours.
That is not ‘excitement’. That is what I call The Zombie Effect. The players fall into a trance-like, meditative state. And if you add any real excitement, they ‘wake up’ from that state. Your excitement takes away from their pleasure.
The more you lose the zombie effect, the more players you lose.
Actionable Tip #3: Don’t add additional games or non-slot events to a slot game. Keep the players in the zone. Let the players stay under the influence of the Zombie Effect.
Mistake #4: Using ‘cheats’
First, let’s define ‘cheats’: A cheat is creating a different math for different situations or players. For example, having one math for new players, another for more veteran players.
Or having one math for paying players and another for non-paying players. Or having one math for players with many coins and another for players with few coins.
The problem with that is that players already assume you cheat. Most players are convinced that you have an algorithm that takes away their wins after a winning streak, that you have something specifically aimed at them that will cause them to never succeed, and so on.
But as soon as players find out that you really do cheat – and they will – they will talk amongst themselves in forums and leave you en masse.
True randomness, and equal chance to all players, is the basic premise of what a slot game is. Players must trust that in this you are honest. If you break that trust, they will never forgive you.
Actionable Tip #4: Employ true randomness. Always. For everyone.
Mistake #5: Thinking the players want a professional game
Again, this is true in all games, except slot games. Here’s the dirty truth of it all: it’s not the players who want a professional slot game. It’s you.
You need professionalism. So you can look at your game and be proud. So you can show your sleek new game to your entrepreneur friends. But the players? They don’t need that. A pro-looking game is not a factor in success.
Typos, bugs, lack of animations, and other factors are not hindrances in a social slot game’s success. Deep inside, players feel that a slot is a little bit dirty. So if the slot is dirty, that fits.
Even Slotomania when it started, during its asymptotic viral explosion, had plenty of typos and bugs in the games that were taken out much later.
Actionable Tip #5: Do not let professionalism bog you down. Too many companies spend another month or two months on creating the perfect graphic or in taking out bugs that at the end of the day would have never influenced monetisation. CEOs spend months and hundreds of thousands of dollars on small minutia that the players don’t really care about.
Over the last few years, almost 99% of the companies that failed did so because they made at least one of the mistakes above. Not making those mistakes gives you an edge over your competition.
If you look at your game and see that you are now making one of those mistakes, stop everything, go back and fix it. The good news is: You’ve just averted a disaster. Good luck!
Guy Hasson worked at 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, specialising in