Interview: CCO Nicola Longmuir speaks with EGR on the future of online slots

Providing quality entertainment to players is essential, and it is crucial to always stay ahead of the curve and continue to innovate in order to remain relevant.

Our CCO, Nicola Longmuir speak with EGR further on this, and gives her thoughts on what the future will hold for online slot content.

Entertainment in gaming has changed dramatically in recent times. What we have at our disposal today is a far cry from what most imagined even as recently as 5-10 years ago. Of course, that comes with the rapid progress in technology and with it, consumer behaviour.

This is true of many industries and no more so than ours. Here in the fast-moving and ever-evolving world of slot development, some have achieved the objective of truly understanding what entertainment means to contemporary players considerably more rapidly.

After all, we’ve all heard plenty about the ‘Netflix’ experience in the gaming conversation – but that really doesn’t mean much when it comes to supplying slots. Going beyond that is what I want to do here, and I’m going to do my best to try and present a vision for the way entertainment needs to develop.

First off, we need to remember that this is all about demographics. People’s habits and how they consume media are a key factor to consider as there’s much distraction and noise during the current COVID-dominated environment, especially when it comes to the choice of entertainment platforms and multiple notifications via mobile.

We’re seeing a new generation of player coming online, and they play very differently to your traditional VIP gambler. They’ve adopted more of a snacking culture when it comes to experiencing online entertainment, so are continuously switching between apps and screens. The need for instant entertainment, along with the high proliferation of entertainment options available are definitely key drivers for this change.

Not only that, but the present situation of lockdowns and a transformed economy means that delivering a premium gaming experience that players can resonate with is something that can’t be commodified.

Tied in with this, we’re all seeing the advances in technology at the moment, such as 5G, which is going to give developers real scope to progress over 2021. This is going to create a whole new way of engaging the player – which, they will demand as they know what’s possible with entertainment.  

We’ve already had plenty of conversations with operators around this. The future of player demand is here already, and times are changing fast. Games will need to be easy-to-use, quick to play, intuitive, offer a great design and a perfect UI to guarantee retention and engagement.

We also cannot forget the importance of specialised games, as well as top quality animations and immersive visuals for that enhanced experience. This is of course, what the new generation is accustomed to with other forms of media, and iGaming can’t be any different. Players want to be presented instantly with what they like – and AI-based recommendations and personalised content need to be part of that on the casino lobby.

For us on the supply side, there’s no two ways around it, we need games to be thrilling and fun. Take bonus rounds, for example, players want to be instantly part of it, rather than endure an elongated process to earn the right.

However, the elephant in the room of course is regulation. It’s going to dictate a lot of the development horizon for the coming decade.

Ironically, there has been player feedback that flies in the face of some of the restrictions that are being put in place, so it’s a key balancing act, but one I’m confident that the most dynamic game suppliers will be able to meet.

Creating content that can excite, while adhering to enhanced restrictions will be a challenge that will likely prove healthy for the market in the long-term. Suppliers should be increasingly looking at developing content that will bring joy and entertainment to players. People want to escape and brands that provide this type of content will harness the media surge and build brand advocacy.

Looking at how the market will fare, I’m sure the companies that are both adaptable and innovative, and make changes quickly are set to benefit. The more agile studios across the industry will thrive by producing content that both excites and keeps the regulator happy. In contrast, those who commodified the gaming experience will be facing a far rockier road ahead.

But looking wider, as operators bear the brunt of new restrictions, I expect to see game creators differentiate themselves by allowing players to customise their own responsible gaming experience. We know that experience is changing – and giving players the chance to be really in the driving seat when it comes to setting their own tolerance and parameters will be a great differentiator.

Last but not least, every marketing-related article needs to mention streamers – and the pandemic-induced surge in the consumption of media is affecting patterns of play behaviour.

I’m sure we’ll see an even bigger shift towards streamers as part of the social and community element of gaming. They’re already established as an essential acquisition and retention channel for studios and operators, so we’re really beginning to see the effect particular influencers can have on driving strategy and capturing player interest.

And that’s it; driving that commitment from the player, ensuring that they leave satisfied and suitably enthused about their next experience. Because at the end of the day – it’s all about putting the player first. Entertain them and they’ll have a reason to come back. 

The EGR interview can be viewed here.