SBC News BetGames: reinventing the classic pachinko to delight a new generation of players

BetGames: reinventing the classic pachinko to delight a new generation of players

When looking for new games to play, many bettors may choose to opt for the classics – whether that be fruit-themed slots, wheel-based games or even the nostalgic arcade theme game show. After all, there’s a reason these types of games are considered classics.

Hence, when coming up with its new game Crypt of Giza, BetGames set out its plans to tap into that classic game ‘feel’ to create a product that resonates with players. 

Ian Catchick, the firm’s Chief Product and Business Development Officer, sat down with SBC News to discuss the launch of the game and the company’s plans for the remainder of 2023. 

Bringing Ancient Egypt into the modern age

Crypt of Giza is an exclusive game produced for one of BetGames’ partners and is themed around a pachinko game show but – as the name suggests – it has an Egyptian twist. 

The idea, Catchick explained, came about after discussions around how to best appeal to the recreational bettor looking for a form of unique entertainment. 

He began: “We have indeed been busy, and launched an exclusive pachinko themed game for one of our key partners called Crypt of Giza that has an exciting set of bonus rounds, and a chance to win multipliers of up to 10,000 times your original stake.  

“As always, we want to target recreational players, and we have a single goal to allow them to have fun, enjoy the simple, but pulse-raising experience of the game, with its changing multipliers and bonus games.” 

Combining a pachinko theme with Egyptian design may not seem like an obvious choice at first. But games that conjure up images of times when Pharaohs ruled the land are a common theme for BetGames’ creative teams – so carrying this narrative on through to Crypt of Giza seemed like a natural step. 

According to Catchick, this decision has paid off with the game proving to be successful with players.

He continued: “The theme is one that players are really enjoying already, as we can see from our player numbers, and the Egyptian theme was chosen to introduce a new style of game show that builds on the many opportunities that Ancient Egypt offers, which we already know players love. 

“Crypt of Giza also offers players the popular risk and reward model, where you can choose to try and win a big multiplier, or cash out earlier with a guaranteed prize in the main bonus round.  

“As usual, stake amounts are affordable, and this game does what we do best at BetGames, by targeting players that simply enjoy the simple game mechanics without risking unaffordable amounts on the game, which we feel is the most important aspect, and the most responsible way of playing any game show.”

Simple yet effective

Pachinko has long been associated with the Japanese market, with the mechanical arcade-style game proving to be incredibly popular among the population. 

So why did BetGames choose to take inspiration from this style of game? For Catchick, the answer was simple. It comes down to the game play experience.

“The pachinko theme is so agile, and it allows so many opportunities to engage in a game where the ball can literally go anywhere on the board at any point. As a theme, it’s very simple but also incredibly fun – you watch the ball and wait for gravity to take its effect. 

“It’s also a really simple game that really resonates with players. We wanted to keep it simple and prioritise the fun, enjoyable side of the game. We wanted to create a game whereby if you see the game for the first time without a sound or anything, you can still know exactly what’s going on.

“This makes watching and playing the game more engaging. The simplicity of the game, combined with gravity and chance driving the outcome, it’s sure to be a winner in my opinion.”

Catchick did draw some parallels between this theme of the game and wheel-based titles, two styles that he believes appeal to that sense of nostalgia for players.  

He added: “Similar to wheel based games, the mechanics are understandable from the moment you start to play, and the excitement of not knowing where the ball will end until the very last second provides appealing and engaging content to players.”

It’s all about the brand(ing)

The discussion soon turned towards the role that branded content can play within the betting and gaming industry, and perhaps why more live games studios should be placing their focus on  bespoke games.

Catchick emphasised that creating branded content is much more than just adding a logo to a game, and instead requires careful consideration on how to localise the game interface to suit that operator’s player base. To achieve this, BetGames has three different options of introducing branded content to players.

“The first way is to build a bespoke live game, as a number of our partners already have,” Catchick said. “This is branded specifically to the partner, has dedicated live dealers in branded clothing, and a dedicated user interface and branded studio with key messaging to the players driven by the partner.”

The second method involves taking an existing game and implementing branding into the layout. The Chief Product and Business Development Officer noted that this will be an option for all of BetGames’ newest titles as well as future releases.

He continued: “Typically the studio or game background will be branded with look and feel, animations, sound effects and some elements of the user interface items that can be localised.  

“Finally, the third option we have is to reskin an existing game, but record the content with bespoke content where the studio, clothing, animation, sound, presenter or sportsperson and game mechanics can be adapted and built to suit the exact needs of the partner.  

“All three of these options are available to partners, with different models to support them, but we can offer branded games content with competitive commercial models to support them, and we have a very agile way to deliver these for partners, to ensure we offer something 100% suited to the brand proposition of each partner.”

The journey to creating branded content is a collaborative one, Catchick said. By working closely with partners, BetGames aims to align its content with the operator’s brand guidelines, game style, key propositions and messaging. 

By doing this, the company can then work out whether the branded content will require physical studios, certain technologies or even video overlays.

Walking us through the process, Catchick added: “Then we get the designs and sounds developed to incorporate many aspects such as branding, studio background, presenter or sports person clothing, user interface, animations, game configurations and RTPs, USPs and marketing assets.  

“The BetGames team lead the process with the partner, create all aspects of the game design, present and amend as required during the show-and-tell feedback phase. Once everything is confirmed to suit the partners need, we get into the process of developing the game and creating all of the game assets to launch the game quickly and efficiently, with certification and all regulatory activities undertaken for the launch.”

Bring in the industry heavyweights

As well as strengthening its portfolio of games, BetGames has also been bolstering its senior leadership team as of late with Adam Lahouiri joining as Head of Product earlier this month. 

Lahouiri previously worked at Entain, where he oversaw the commercial and product management side of the company’s live casino division. But in his new role at BetGames, he will be tasked with supporting the rollout of content.

“I am absolutely delighted to have Adam on the team. He brings with him a wealth of live dealer experience, and the knowledge of having been an operator, so that we know how to continue optimising our games, to be relevant to the changing needs of the player base,” Catchick said. 

“Over the past couple of years, we have been getting much closer to the end player, and Adam will allow us to build even further on this, and help us to set a roadmap that is responding to both operator and player needs.”

Under Lahouiri’s guidance, BetGames already has plans to launch plenty of new content over the coming months. This will be complemented by a range of customer development tools as well as features to optimise the user interface across its games.

One recent example of a new game launched has been BetGames’ Instant Lucky7 – a lottery themed effort that builds upon one of BetGames “most popular products”.

Catchick explained: “Lucky7 has a draw taking place every single minute of every single day, and provides opportunities to win big multipliers of up to 200,000 times the staked amount.  

“This RNG game allows partners to brand it if they want a specific product aligned to their brand proposition, and we can offer it with a unique look and feel, along with sounds and user interface.  

“Moving forwards, we will start to develop more high frequency titles with a few more games planned to launch later this year, and all of these new games will allow operators to introduce a branded version if they wish, or to take the standard global multi-operator game.”

There’s more to come

With new products and new hires, you wouldn’t be far wrong in thinking that BetGames has a busy year ahead. 

Catchick rounded off the discussion by giving us a sneak peek into the company’s plans for the upcoming SBC Summit Barcelona, and what we can expect to see on the roadmap for these next few months.

He said: “We will be sharing our plans for the remainder of this year, and we have a lot to talk about. During 2023, we have already launched five new games to the market, and plan to launch a few more before the year ends.  

“Our roadmap includes many new high-frequency games, and alongside this, we are adding a second betting interface to allow players to bet using the existing classic betslip, which provides access to multiple betting markets, or alternatively to play our games using a new simplified bet placement solution, to allow players to bet in a more speedy and efficient manner on the most popular bet types.  

“We are also speeding up the frequency of some of our games based on player demands and behaviour, and working on some new customer development tools to help derive greater value for partners and a better playing experience for players.”

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