Slots Roundtable: What impact are European games having in North America?
Push Gaming's CEO James Marshall contributed to a Compare.bet roundtable discussion with other industry leaders to discuss the impact European games are having in North America. Read James' answers below and click here to read the full roundtable discussion.
Ever since the relaxing of regulations in the US and now Canada, there has been a steady stream of slot studios entering the North American market, buoyed by success in Europe and elsewhere. We examine if the influx of Euro-styled content has made a splash on the other side of the pond and what changes might we see as players become accustomed to the more diverse range of games available.
Niklas Mravjle, Director of Product Marketing at Oryx Gaming joins Armen Tatarevic, Business Development Director at White Hat Studios and James Marshall, CEO at Push Gaming to share their thoughts.
What are the main differences between US-tailored games and those designed with the European markets in mind?
I would say there’s less of a difference now than there was when the industry started to bring online games from the likes of NetEnt into the UK market some time ago. I think there was a drastic difference there, but for the titles that are going over to the US today the difference is less defined.
European suppliers have been inspired by US games from their experience of Vegas-style titles, so there is some inspiration from US gaming already which will lessen the impact of slots from European studios arriving in the states. You’ve also got to remember that the European region is segmented between the likes of the UK, Germany, and all the different markets that we have and these can’t necessarily be spoken of as a general whole.
When we talk about the US market, we’re still talking predominantly about land-based content – the likes of SG, IGT, and Aristocrat and their content still isn’t quite online just yet, but it’s imminent. US-developed titles have improved drastically over the last decade or so, previous to that it was quite flat with rather basic concepts and mechanics but the industry has improved that dramatically.
In Europe, the market has been competitive for a long time in both online and mobile, with this competitiveness being a major difference between the regions. We’ve been against more than 80 studios and that has increased the quality of content generally. As a result, I would argue that European content currently is more premium whereas because of the relative infancy of the US online market and the talent that exists there is currently less so, however, I expect the gap to close over time.
How have North American players responded to these new arrivals?
I can only base my opinion on the data that we see and the games that have performed well have got some clear similarities with the titles that work within the land-based sector. Jackpot games have performed well but you can also see that, predictably, the games that possess predominately land-based familiarity have returned the best numbers, which is to be expected in the short term.
It’s similar to what we saw in the UK market back in the day with Barcrest, Blueprint and all the established traditional suppliers. They’ll always have that head start because there’s the familiarity players lean towards. They then move over from land-based to online and it makes sense for them to play the games that they’re already accustomed to.
Will European-style slots eventually hold sway in North America or will they find it harder to gain a foothold than some expect?
It will heavily depend on the styles of games that studios develop. If the content has a clear European slant I think it will struggle because the players there will not appreciate the game as much as they might if the gameplay contains inspiration from Vegas and land-based casino games.
What I think US players will appreciate is the level up in development for mobile and online that we see from European studios. What’s interesting about the US is that I see it as a mature slots market, compared to Europe – what I mean by that is Europe has hardly any casinos in comparison, so US players have a heritage in slots and will appreciate what the new wave of games offer so they’ll convert to them a lot easier than they would in other markets.
Should studios be evolving their output to consider North America or will the trends of a more diversified market simply dictate going forward?
It’s probably going to be a bit of both. To assume as a studio that you’re going to enter a new market and players are going to love your content because they perform well in another market is naive. For Push Gaming, we’re confident in our content because we think there’s a lot of similarities that US players are going to enjoy.
What we’re also going to do (and have already been doing) is examine the data to understand what players like or dislike about our content and try and adapt that accordingly. Simultaneously, we’ll be continuing to research, develop and deliver in ways that are quite different to our competitors – this is what has proved so successful for us thus far.
You can still innovate while keeping true to what players enjoy, and given that there’s not a huge range of content in the US right now, especially in comparison to Europe, you’ve also got your back catalogue to lay with. We know about the content that’s going to work moving from land-based to online and when it comes to new content, it’s going to be a bit more of trial and error. Studios are going to have to be agile and flexible, adapting to the feedback from this new demographic.
While we are using what we’ve learned from other markets there is the possibility that this may count for nothing as individual states continue to open up – it may well be that the reaction from the market dictates the games that are supplied – no one really knows for certain at the moment.
What Push will also be doing, regardless of the reaction from North America, is ramping up our game production to almost double where it is currently. With a larger, diversely skilled team we’ll have the capacity to keep creating the content that we know players will love and have enough capacity to cater for all. These are exciting times but ones we’re absolutely relishing.
You can read the full Compare.bet roundtable with all contributors, click here for the full roundtable.