Interview: PO, Carl Wiggman, speaks with G3 Magazine about Joker Troupe

Our Product Owner, Carl Wiggman, recently spoke with G3 magazine on what has made Joker Troupe such a successful game. He also gives some insight into our new, exciting feature - Hypermode™, as well as the approach that Push Gaming takes to making top-performing games.

Could you tell us about what Push Gaming is doing to increase player retention?
Two things; always offer something unique on the market, and use mechanics that are rewarding for a player over thousands of spins.

We do what we can to make our games fun for longer. We dedicate a lot of time to each and every game and aim to keep these growing in popularity in the long run and not be forgotten for other games after a few days.

What was the inspiration for the Hypermode™ mechanic?
I wanted to make our games more intense and move away from the more conventional method of dragging games out for that one big hit to being progressively more intensive. I was inspired by arcade car games where you need to reach a checkpoint before the timer runs out to keep playing.

Ideas can come from almost anywhere. Often the whole vision for a game comes from the product owner but the idea can come from anyone within the company. We always look at the experience of the player and see if we can upgrade on them somehow or surprise them by changing it up. 

How does Hypermode™ work? 
Essentially, Hypermode™ gives the player a timer instead of a set amount of spins and if you keep landing the special symbols you will progress and reset the timer. Resetting the timer extends the length of play and the timer speeds up the whole game. Compared to the conventional method of building up towards one big spin, this is more of a machine gun of wins that is peppering the players and providing a whole new experience. 

How does Push Gaming differentiate its game mechanics from other developers? 
The most important thing is that the mechanic itself, or its combinations with other elements, is something different that provides a new experience for the player. The basic idea is to bring something that players cannot get elsewhere.

Do you follow any processes or trends to guide your game design?

We have four pillars of product strategy. The first and most important is that every game has a reason to exist. In our industry, we have providers who often make generic games to cash in on that initial launch period where games are in the limelight.

Our goal is to make games that are not just played for novelty but provide an experience that was not there previously. 

The second pillar is that our audience is our biggest stakeholder. Rather than shareholders, operators or ourselves, we do everything for the end player

Thirdly, we are not afraid to take risks in design. To produce hits, we realise there is no magic formula and whilst this may mean we are sometimes off the mark, that is okay, and we are not ashamed of that. It happens. 

Finally, we do not let the challenge hold us back. We sometimes see in the concept stage an awesome feature which can be difficult to make technically, but oftentimes this means there is a lot of potential if we can pull it off, so we do not hold back in those situations. 

What do you view as the most important component to the success of a game? 
I would say the most important component is the game mechanics. It is central to the player experience and the role of design and sound is to bring that mechanic to fruition, so the players get the most out of the mechanic. 

How do you maintain a balanced portfolio that targets both casual and experienced players?
The goal is to take a funky and dynamic mechanic that is quite complicated into an intuitive and easy to grasp experience, meaning that no matter if you are an experienced or completely new slot player you can quickly understand the game and enjoy it for many spins. 

What type of market research do you undertake to ensure your games cater to varying player demands across multiple regions? 
Before a game comes out, we play it many times amongst the product team. We try to look for local variants – lately we have been looking at German games and what the flavour is there. We also do an annual trip to Vegas that gives us an insight into the land-based world and understand what is going on there. 

How does Joker Troupe fit in with this approach?
We took some of the popular classic joker games you see in the market and upgraded those experiences in every way. Joker Troupe retains the appeal that players have been enjoying for years, however our core audience will also appreciate these modern twists on a game they might not be used to. A lot of effort went into the game and it has a lot to give for some time to come. 

How do you manage the balance between your content roadmap and perfecting game design?
This is something that we have been working on over the past few months. We believe that it is better to release a game that is great when it is ready to be released, rather than a game that is mediocre, but on time. 
This means that sometimes we need to adapt our plans and put in additional time to ensure we create another top release.

That being said, we feel that this approach has been worth taking on as we are seeing our games continuing to perform exceptionally well over many months from their release, which means that players aren’t forgetting them and keep coming back to them.

Other entertainment sectors are making significant strides in tailoring content for individual users. How do you foresee technology evolving in the gaming industry towards personalising content for individual players? 
It is quite difficult to say. A lot of the big data initiatives have not come to fruition as many hoped they would, or at least as quickly as anticipated. I see a lot of operators who still work with manual decisions on which games are most represented. I think it will be quite a while before we see complicated and dynamic algorithms replacing the people that are currently in charge of personalising content and dictating player experiences. 

There is a lot we can do together by creating new products every time we go to market – oftentimes you go into a casino and see the same couple of games shown. I do not see a big reason for this. Making use of the thousands of games that are available is crucial. Currently, you only see the top 50 or 100. At the moment, operators are not utilising the vast library of games at their disposal.