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Should studios develop online slots that appeal to younger audiences?



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Over the last few years, there has been an intense spotlight shone on gambling-related harm. As much as we all enjoy playing online slots, we’re well aware of the risks associated with the much-loved pastime.

One specific area of gambling-related harm that’s received plenty of attention is the issue of young people being exposed to gambling, mainly due to a steep rise in the popularity of loot boxes in games such as FIFA, League of Legends and Overwatch.

However, loot boxes aren’t the only thing that’s been a cause for concern in the last few years. Critics have pointed out that a handful of developers have created online slots that may appeal to young people and that some slot sites use them in a bid to attract new customers.

We wanted to take a closer look at this and discover whether in fact studios (and slot sites) are getting a little bit too close for comfort when it comes to slot design, or whether anti-gambling lobbyists are making more of a splash than is necessary.

Naturally, this piece has to start by looking at branded slots, as they have ultimately become the catalyst for this debate. Prior to pop culture seeping into casino games, most titles were similar to each other, themed around fruit machines, Las Vegas and other generic themes. That is until branded slots began to make their mark…

The rise of branded slots featuring popular characters

Back in the early-to-mid 2000s, branded slots slowly began appearing in casinos across the internet. Most of these titles were based on IP that was intended for a mature audience.

At this time, some of the most popular slots included Scarface, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein and Dracula, and it’s not hard to see why these video games and movies were selected to become online slots.

With more than a decade of success under their belts, many of the top online slot developers have amassed enough money and notoriety to licence some of the most popular films, television shows and video games that have ever existed, meaning more eyes on their slots.

As a result, the preference towards using mature IP has faltered and more branded online slots have been developed that feature widely recognisable characters from mainstream pop culture.

Classic movie characters such as Tony Montana and the Creature from the Black Lagoon were replaced by more recognisable faces such as Mr Monopoly, Rick and Morty, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Gordon Ramsay and the delightful duo of Sloth and Chunk from The Goonies.

The risks of creating slots that appeal to younger audiences

As is to be expected, some of the most popular slots right now are branded, featuring many famous faces we all know and love… And we’re hardly surprised – players look for trust and familiarity when they’re spending real money to play these games.

Many say that the issue with familiarity is that it puts young people who may have access to an online casino account at heightened risk. It’s easy to imagine them being drawn to online slots that feature characters and IP that they’re already familiar with and passionate about.

Games such as WWE Legends: Link & Win, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior Slot and Rick and Morty Wubba Lubba Dub Dub are all quite capable of attracting young players on brand name recognition alone, despite being marketed at a mature audience.

Another risk that isn’t as widely considered is the fact that these games can appear high up in the results for certain search terms on Google (and other search engines). For example, someone searching for The Karate Kid, The Goonies or WWE could end up finding themselves at an online slot site.

A real-life example of this took place in September 2019 when 32Red had two of their paid-for Google advertising campaigns banned by the Advertising Standards Agency in the UK when their adverts for NetEnt slot Jack and the Beanstalk appeared at the top of Google, despite being a search term heavily used by children. 

The rewards of creating slots that appeal to younger audiences

Despite making some valid points in the previous section, it’s quite evident that the risk posed by slots featuring pop culture icons are minimal. Yes, the risk is there, but there’s no clear evidence a gambling epidemic has or will be caused by the inclusion of familiar faces.

If this was the case then we’d currently have a whole generation of online slot players that were drawn in and hooked by slots such as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2004 and Hitman in 2007… We can quite confidently say that we know that not to be the case all these years later.

As mentioned, the only real risk comes when due diligence is not done by those advertising the games independently. However, there are multiple tools in place on multiple platforms that ensure that gambling advertising does not get in front of the wrong eyes.

Developing games that appeal to a new generation of online slot enthusiasts is just smart business and not necessarily a bad thing at all. There’s a very good reason that we keep seeing more and more branded slots hit casino lobbies on a monthly basis, and that’s because they go down well with players, developers and operators alike.

Like every other industry out there, innovation needs to happen in order for organisations to remain competitive, especially in such an ultra fierce and cut-throat industry as iGaming.

If online slot developers such as NetEnt, Blueprint Gaming and Play’n GO continued to develop and release tired, old-fashioned Irish and Egyptian themed slots on a regular basis then they’d likely lose players to more innovative sectors of the iGaming industry such as live casino.

As avid fans of online slots ourselves, we genuinely believe that creating slots that primarily appeal to Millenials and a portion of Gen Z is the best way to ensure online slots remain fresh and enjoyable. It’s down to operators and affiliates to ensure that these slots are marketed to the right audience and keep them out of harm’s reach.

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SkillOnNet Extends Partnership with Stakelogic Via Live Casino Platform



SkillOnNet Extends Partnership with Stakelogic Via Live Casino Platform
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Stakelogic Live gives SkillOnNet most complete live casino offering on the market

Global entertainment brand SkillOnNet will bolster its casino offering through a strategic partnership with StakeLogic Live, a leading provider of state-of-the-art premium live casino content.

Casinos powered by SkillOnNet, as well as its own brands like PlayOjo, SpinGenie and Bacana Play, now have access to Stakelogic Live’s live dealer games, including American Blackjack, European Roulette and Game Shows. The new content will initially launch in the UK, Mexico and .com countries before being rolled out to Denmark and Sweden shortly afterwards.

Stakelogic Live is streamed 24/7 out of dedicated studios in Malta and the Netherlands. It employs highly trained dealers within a realistic casino atmosphere to offer an authentic and customised live casino gaming experience that meets player preferences in markets all over the world.

StakeLogic Live has also brought unique and innovative concepts to the live dealer space. These include ‘Super Stake’, which allows players to effectively double their bet to increase the chance of triggering bonus features for big wins. As well as, Spin To Win, a plug & play jackpot feature that sits within Stakelogic’s slots that gives players a chance to win big on 2 Mega Money wheels hosted at their Live Studio.

The new deal will enhance an existing content partnership between the two companies, which includes the integration of Stakelogic’s slot portfolio on SkillOnNet’s acclaimed games platform.

Jani Kontturi, Head of Games at SkillOnNet said: “We’re always looking to offer players something a little different, something that breaks the mold. And Stakelogic Live does that with features like Super Stake, which is completely unique to the live casino space. They’re already great partners, and they’ve put so much amazing work into StakeLogic Live that it simply became too good to pass on. We believe this complements our existing live casino offering to make it the best on the market.”

Jose Simon, Commercial Director at Stakelogic, said: “We’re delighted that our live casino games will gain further reach through this deal, and we’re happy to be taking our relationship with a major player like SkillOnNet to the next stage. As companies, we both understand the importance of building truly localised gaming experiences in regulated jurisdictions that resonate with players.”

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QUIK Gaming joins REEVO Aggregation Platform



QUIK Gaming joins REEVO Aggregation Platform
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REEVO, the B2B content and aggregation platform, has onboarded QUIK Gaming to its expanding roster of partners.

QUIK Gaming, a provider with a unique approach which marries the excitement of slots with live gaming and bonus features, will add its distinct portfolio to the REEVO platform allowing it to extend its reach to REEVO operator partners who will gain access to an even wider content offering. The company has taken their games to the next level and created Live as well as Single Player versions of all their games.

In addition to developing its own games REEVO is onboarding a rapidly accelerating range of the industry’s leading content suppliers to provide operator partners with a comprehensive selection of the most diverse suite of games – all through a single API integration.

Petra Maria Poola, Head of Sales, REEVO, said: “QUIK produces some very distinctive content that sets brands apart so we’re delighted they have joined our growing roster of platform partners who bring great value to our expanding offering.”

Jaco van den Heever, Vice President of Sales & Business Development at QUIK Gaming, said: “We are excited to go live with REEVO as they offer us a great opportunity to expand our reach to their established and new operator base. In return we are confident we will add value to the REEVO games portfolio, through our live and single player games in both live casino and casino categories.”

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Q&A: Chris Armes Takes Charge as High 5 Games’ CTO



Q&A: Chris Armes Takes Charge as High 5 Games' CTO
Reading Time: 3 minutes


High 5 Games bolsters their executive leadership team with Chief Technology Officer, Chris Armes.

Chris brings to High 5 Games the experience of having managed global engineering teams for several Fortune 100 companies over the past 25 years. Since moving into iGaming in 2017, he’s never looked back and compares the burgeoning industry today to the dotcom business during the boom in the mid to late 90s.

In his position as CTO, Chris works closely with Jerry Wilson, who is in charge of creative strategy for game content and brands at High 5 Games. Another ally Chris counts on to help him meet deliverables is Gino Fratto, who leads the product and project management teams.

We put Chris under the spotlight to answer a few questions about what led him to High 5 Games, his management style and the challenges and opportunities presented by his new role.

Could you please tell us about how you got to where you are now?

Chris: My background is in software development and engineering on large-scale international projects. Throughout my career I’ve been fortunate to have been part of and manage many high-performing global teams across the full spectrum of the delivery experience. In every organization where I’ve led technology, my strong suit is the ability to balance product and customer needs to ensure the success and sustainability of any solution my team delivers.


How do you see your role as the CTO at High 5 Games?

Chris: I’m responsible for leading the development and implementation of the technology strategy for High 5 Games. This involves overseeing everything from building platforms to developing the technology behind H5G’s industry-leading games. Another key process I must carefully manage and oversee in my CTO role, is taking fresh products and features through the rigorous phases of testing and deployment before they are brought to market for our customers.


What is the best way to build and nurture a technical team in the iGaming space?

Chris: As a leader of a tech organization, you and the business are only as good as the team you build, which is why building the best technical team is your key to success. iGaming today reminds me a lot of the dotcom business during the boom when business differentiation was by finding people with the right kind of experience to join their team. Having a globally dispersed business is an opportunity to build a more talent-diverse team but close collaboration must be a focal point to get the most out of every individual.


How do you approach the challenge of aligning your engineers and developers with the broader objectives of the business?

Chris: The best way for teams to see the value of their work and how it contributes to the company’s vision, is to communicate these goals across the entire organization. This communication should be ongoing so that it forms part of the culture and everyone is aligned with these objectives. The biggest challenge often lies in balancing technological innovation with time to market. Engineers and product managers must be adept at delivering solutions through a phased approach. Being agile helps to ensure continuous innovation while at the same time preventing bottlenecks when a final product can’t be delivered all at once.


How do you balance the need for innovation with the stability and reliability required in a tech environment?

Chris: It’s important to have a regular release cadence for products and features which accounts for factors such as quality and time. If a technical solution is not ready for release, it’s often better to hold off and prevent a negative customer experience. The ‘tech debt’ that can accumulate when choosing an easy quick-fix over a better, more time-consuming solution, is another key consideration when project planning. I strive to create a team environment where we are not only solving problems but continually disrupting, so time is built into sprints for not only addressing the unexpected but innovation as well.

As a leader of a tech organization, you and the business are only as good as the team you build, which is why building the best technical team is the key to success.”

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