Incorporating valuable takeaways from various game developers who showcased their titles in the Game Innovation Zone at the last edition of CasinoBeats Summit (2023), this blog post synthesizes useful insights and details on how next year’s agenda (2024) is set to delve deep into the noteworthy revelations shared by these studios.
“Players vote with their money.”
What a simple yet truthful statement from Nikolay Lobov, Regulated Markets Global Director at Mascot Gaming during the 2023 edition of CasinoBeats Summit.
In this fiercely competitive landscape, where hundreds of game providers, whether seasoned veterans or burgeoning talents, vie for the coveted vote of confidence, it’s a delicate dance. Balancing the creation of a diverse array of games to meet varied player preferences while also dedicating ample time to that potential game-changer is no small feat.
Regardless of the aspiration, be it churning out a plethora of games or meticulously refining that one groundbreaking title, the essence remains the same—capturing the attention.
This is why (because developing games is great, but you still need to promote them), today’s blog post is dedicated to the 2024 edition of the CasinoBeats Summit—a senior executive SBC event dedicated to all things casino.
The blog post will delve into:
—The ‘creativity versus commercial considerations dilemma’ and the challenge of bringing a concept to reality from game providers who participated in the 2023 edition of CasinoBeats Summit, showcasing their innovations at the Game Innovation Zone and presenting their games before a live audience of key decision-makers.
—Insights into our conference agenda, drawing from the topics that gained significant traction and lively discussions in the previous year.
Creativity versus Commercial Considerations
As mentioned above, the delicate balance between creative expression and commercial success is a narrative ingrained in the fabric of game creation. Are these two aspects mutually exclusive? Perhaps not.
However, the relentless push to produce games for the market sometimes squeezes the space for creativity. To unravel this complexity, we engaged with our Game Innovation Zone exhibitors, seeking their unique insights on navigating this creative-commercial tightrope.
A representative from ELA Games acknowledged that the market is saturated. However, she noted:
“If you look at our portfolio, it’s extremely diverse; no game is the same in terms of mechanics and skins. So what we’re trying to do is create a portfolio that appeals to everyone. Commercially, that means we have a varied portfolio to sell to clients, and they are actually more likely to take the games—just because there’s so much more diversity that we can provide to them.”
Yet, it can be argued that a diverse portfolio doesn’t automatically equate to creativity. For those intrigued by delving deeper into this notion, the ‘Building an Innovation Giant: Merge, Create, Dominate’ conference panel awaits. Part of the ‘Product’ track on Day 1 (May 24), this panel precisely explores the art of crafting the ultimate blockbuster game. It examines the myriad factors influencing studio creativity, spanning both industry giants churning out hundreds of slot games annually and smaller independent studios. The discussion navigates how studios can effectively harness innovation and explores the pitfalls of compromising artistic value in pursuit of quantity in output.
Anna Serheieva, Head of Partnerships at OnlyPlay, has a practical approach:
“For us, it’s 50/50. We have to make money to create new games and develop new game mechanics. To innovate, we need to invest, and that’s why we focus on activities that generate revenue today, with the goal of funding future creative endeavours.”
In her statement, she highlights that the company strives to appeal to the upcoming generation—one that doesn’t identify solely as gamblers but seeks diverse experiences.
“We create products for immediate financial returns and invest in projects for the future.”
Ray Freilibs, New Business Manager at Winfinity, views creativity through the lens of innovation.
“Innovation in gaming happens all the time, we evolve constantly, we learn and adapt and we have so much tech just patterned for us. We try to innovate player trust, we try and keep the games clean and original, and we have classic roulette wheels without scanners and with recognition within 1.1 seconds.”
The 2024 agenda also takes an innovative perspective on slot development:
—The ‘Innovations from tech to revolutionise iGaming’ panel examines the hardware and software that are being developed (and potentially utilised in various other industries) that can be successfully applied in our field.
—The ‘Navigating niche – mainstream opinion on alternative games’ panel delves into alternative or niche game formats, questioning whether innovation lies in competing with slot games through such options.
—In the ‘Loyalty or personalisation? The key to customer retention’ panel, AI algorithms are explored for their potential to enhance engagement and loyalty by tailoring gaming experiences to individual preferences.
The reality lies in finding a middle ground. A sustainable business model is essential to allocate time and resources to creative endeavours that could lead to a blockbuster game. Yet, the question persists—have we truly reached that point?
Approaches to Game Development: Bringing Concept to Reality
Designing a game that effectively blends creative innovation and commercial viability is a challenging task in itself. However, transitioning a game from concept to reality introduces even more complexities and factors that game developers must carefully navigate.
The question is: Can this journey be a simple process or does it have to unfold along many intricate paths?
For Ray Freilibs, New Business Manager at Winfinity, the answer is fairly straightforward:
“There should always be challenges bringing games from concept to reality and it should be like that. I think if any project in life isn’t difficult, then what is the point in doing it?”
So if a game’s developmental journey is one of intricacies, what factors contribute to its complexity make? For aspiring and established game developers alike, the crux of game development issues can be boiled down to two main points of contention: whether the technology and game mechanics can deliver an innovative gaming experience for players, and whether the game’s concept aligns with the preferences of the player base in a given region.
So which paths lead to success?
For Vadim Potapenko, Head of Sales at TurboStars, the answer lies in an amalgamation of finding niche game mechanics coupled with a gut instinct acquired through years in the industry. He said:
“We observe all the game-related trends and player-related trends and identify what hasn’t been done by others. We decided to discover something niche and offer something new to the industry instead of delivering the same mechanics or product. At this point, we are trusting ourselves and following what our heart says because, at the end of the day, we are trying to create a hit.”
Although innovative technology and game mechanics provide a much-welcome variety of gaming experiences for players, it is important to remember that innovation does not always equate to success.
For those wanting to expand their knowledge on the matter, the panel ‘Navigating Niche – Mainstream Opinion or Alternative Games’ at the 2024 edition of CasinoBeats is an ideal opportunity. The panel will examine formats such as crash, mine, plinko and dice games, and explore whether these niche games can rival traditional slots. The experts will investigate potential barriers hindering these formats and explore strategies to propel the popularity of niche games to new heights.
Stanislav Mykhailov, Head of Sales at Platipus Gaming, emphasised the role of dedicated market research in shaping a game that aligns with the specific needs of players in a given region.
“Our main markets are in Europe; specifically Romania (and we are going live in Croatia and the Baltics too). What we do while developing games is try to understand the features that players from these countries like and appreciate. We know that these players are typically more conservative, and that is why for these specific markets we are offering straightforward games with clear rules and engaging features.”
Mykhailov went on to further highlight how comprehensive market knowledge can facilitate an environment in which both innovative technology and a susceptible player base can lead to success.
“Our roadmap also includes new releases for the Canadian and Swedish markets. We know that players over there prefer to have something new; some innovative features. So that’s where our focus lies—we try to bring new features, and new bonus mechanics to these markets. We know players in these countries are open to trying something new, so this is where we have the possibility to experiment.”
Suggested conference panel:
— ‘Innovations from Tech to Revolutionise iGaming’
The journey of balancing creativity and commercial considerations or conceptualising a game and bringing it to reality undoubtedly involves inherent challenges. While there’s no ideal one-size-fits-all strategy, as it heavily depends on the individual game developer goals, capacity, the markets they are targeting and a myriad of other factors, each brand can get one step closer to finding a winning formula if they focus on understanding the player, understanding the market and leveraging the new tech to their benefit—before their competitors do.
The CasinoBeats Summit 2024 conference agenda is carefully crafted to offer such insights, so make sure to get yourself a ticket to the conference to access industry-leading insights from over 150 experts, both in and out of the industry.
If you are a game studio looking to showcase your titles and innovation to an audience of 5,000 senior decision-makers, consider reaching out to our sales team at [email protected] to get yourself a 2×2 booth at this year’s Game Innovation Zone or establish yourself as a thought leader by scoring a speaker placement on our industry-leading conference agenda alongside other game studios looking to leave their mark on the inner workings of the industry.
Are you an operator looking to meet game studios? Apply for your free event pass.