ESA Gaming: The dawn of non-traditional content

ESA Gaming: the dawn of non-traditional content

Thomas Smallwood, Marketing Manager at ESA GamingThomas Smallwood, Marketing Manager at ESA Gaming, takes a look at why breaking with tradition can push the betting and gaming industry to truly innovate and ultimately create a more exciting player experience.

Innovation, innovation, innovation. This word is a constant mantra in our industry, repeated by both operators, suppliers, and even the most avid players. Whether it’s a wild goose chase or an attainable goal can be debated but recently, we have seen new non-traditional products being introduced and quickly gaining a big following in markets where slots have historically held an unrivalled top position.

The rapidly growing popularity of this new vertical challenges suppliers to think outside the box and to develop unique games that have been proven to attract younger generations that look for content that is more interactive and social than traditional casino titles.

Most operators naturally want to appeal to a broader base with their offering and with player preferences constantly evolving, non-traditional products give more opportunities to engage with a different audience and retain those whose tastes are changing.

It is important that any type of non-traditional content is thoroughly thought out however, not just with new generations of players in mind but also that they sit comfortably in the existing iGaming market. Understanding what the purpose is behind the content you create is crucial and we feel strongly that products should be tailored for the user. In the past, we have seen ‘sport-themed’ slots come and go because they do not genuinely engage with sports bettors, whereas our non-traditional games do because they have been designed with that target audience in mind and have not simply been re-skinned.

Two years ago, we launched our best performing title Goal Mine, a football-themed game with an RTP of 92%. Off the back of the game’s popularity, we recently released a ‘World Edition’ in time for the FIFA World Cup 2022, which has been further enhanced and improved. Players choose different nations to represent them throughout the game play, but the title also has an increased RTP of 96% and sees players hit the bonus shooting round much more often.

Another sport-themed title in our Mine Series, Basketball Mine, could have been a simple re-skin of the successful Goal Mine, however we have included a swiping round in which players fire a ball at the hoop to make the experience more authentic. This title also now comes with a new RTP of 96% with greater player participation in the shooting round. Tennis Mine, coming out in 2023, will have a bonus round with relevant game-play designed for fans of tennis, not a simple rehash of the other sports-themed games.

With purpose-built, non-traditional content like the games in our portfolio, we can ensure we credibly entertain a specific audience and genuinely attract new players. The same is true of our crash-style games, the format of which allows us to think outside of iGaming norms.

Non-traditional content gives more opportunity to innovate, and we feel that this is driven by what we see happening within certain demographics or sectors, rather than innovation for innovation’s sake.

Our lightweight mobile games have been performing strongly in markets in which we are live and we know that the portfolio appeals to a large audience. As with anything new, we are still seeing some reluctance in fully embracing non-traditional content and there is still a lack of belief in the vertical from some operators. The flip side is that early adopters will be able to learn more from the non-traditional content that we, and other providers, develop. This intelligence will later feed into bespoke content and of course greater power in acquiring a new generation of customers.

The principal issue that we at ESA Gaming is currently faced with is positioning. This is not directly related to our content offering but more to the location of our EasySwipe™ games in the sportsbook. We have a number of games that can be classified as non-traditional and they have been thought out specifically with the sports bettor in mind. Whether for cross-selling or player engagement purposes, the titles are designed to be accessed through a widget in the sportsbook.

Although players can effectively swipe in and out of the games without affecting their betting on the sportsbook, one frequent sticking point is persuading some operators that these games will not cannibalise their sports revenue (in fact, they often add revenue to sport, through increased loyalty).

The same is true for other games such as our slots which sit very well on Bingo pages for example and cross-sell equally effectively. Again, we are faced with some pushback for fear that Bingo revenue would be cannibalised.

In some markets, opening games directly from sports betting or bingo pages is a totally alien concept, making it even harder to convince operators to take our games but we are working hard on educating the sector of the potential of this type of content. Perhaps the key to this is an awareness that our games are not navigating players away to a different page.

We will continue to produce our sports-themed Mine series, with Tennis Mine being released later in the year and new crash-style games to follow. At the same time, we will look to learn from the end user to see how we can do things better. Our ethos is about being simple, fast and mobile, so providing we do not waver from this we are happy to continue evolving the content we produce.

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