Design Works Gaming CTO, Brant Frazee, on why games development needs to be faster and more responsive to the needs of online casinos
Speed has never been more important in the online casino space.
The sector has become turbo-charged over the last few years, with new regulations, new markets and ever-more demanding players causing the game to change at a rapid pace.
As a content studio, our challenge is to not only keep pace with these shifts, but also try to anticipate them.
There was a time when online casinos had to make do with whatever content games studios produced. But now there is such a depth of competition, and so much quality content being created, that games need to make sense from multiple perspectives, be that time, player or market.
A key part of our release process is the thorough testing of new content. For most studios, releasing a new title is a leap of faith.
There is a certain alchemy to game design, bringing together everything from gameplay mechanics to theme in a way which resonates with players.
Whether the developers have struck upon the magic formula for any particular release usually only becomes apparent once the game is live.
We wanted to find better ways to predict not just whether or not a game would be a hit, but exactly who will enjoy playing it, and how it should be presented to players.
Fortunately, here at DWG we sit in a rather unique position, as both a developer of real-money gaming content (for both land-based and online casinos) as well as a social casino operator, we are able to tackle the challenge from all angles.
We’ve found that thoroughly testing a new RMG release in social casinos is the best way to predict success and understand the appeal of a game.
While many studios must do with the feedback of a handful of testers, we are able to push out a game to millions of real casino players ahead of an RMG launch.
It has been a game-changer for us and our operator partners, enabling us to release content with far greater confidence.
And the journey doesn’t end upon release.
I’ve seen plenty of fantastic content wasted because it hasn’t been delivered in the right way to players.
This is a symptom of the sheer scale at which content is being produced these days; if a game isn’t living up to expectations, sometimes even in the first hours upon release, it is easy enough to write it off and try something else.
I’d argue this is both wasteful and sub-optimal. It is also why we work closely with our operator partners on the delivery of content.
This is a multi-faceted operation. We share insights with our partners on how the content is best utilized, but we also listen to feedback from the operator.
We are able to implement this rapid response feedback into our design process, so tweaks can be made quickly and a game can find its audience rather than be thrown into the trash.
Raising the bar
As more US states open to online gaming, the type of responsiveness I’ve outlined here is going to be a minimum expectation from those operators hoping to secure market share.
The high barrier of entry means that these operators have a smaller pool of content creators to choose from than many of their European counterparts.
This in turn means that delivering and understanding the content that is available is even more important.
Using content to generate incremental revenues, connected with niche segments of players and offer an engaging proposition to customers is essential.
As ever, following the data will be everyone’s best bet.
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