A headline speaker at the Slot Summit Romania, team SBC caught up with slots and games development and customer engagement expert Arjan Korstjens Strategy Director at Quince Amsterdam, an international Player Activation Agency.
Having undertaken high level consultancy projects for Holland Casino, Lottomatica, Sisal, Merkur Casino and Grand Casino Luzern, Korstjens sheds light on the current development of slots, research of key performance metrics and game engagement and mechanics in what is become a converged market.
(Please note interview was recorded on 9 June a Slot Summit Bucharest Romania)
SBC: Hi Arjan, great to talk to you. You are going to discuss in-depth product strategy for the gambling market at the Slots Summit Bucharest . In your opinion how has strategy evolved for slots gaming, and what factors are causing the industry to change its processes?
AK: I really hope the industry is going to change its processes, because I see very little of it. The world is changing very rapidly and new participants are coming to the (online) market, but the landbased Casinos continue on doing what they were doing and the manufacturers as well. The manufacturers keep on making the games more and more difficult, harder to understand. There is no guidance or help from either Casinos or manufacturers.
Casino guests should be helped and inspired, not just by making new games and outstanding signs, but also when they choose their game. We see a lot of players playing the same game and never change and that is a pity.
I think if the casinos and the manufacturers join hands they can improve the guest experience by giving clearer explanation and direction on where to go and what to play.
SBC: You have helped various operators on their strategies, at an early development phase what key measures and details are you looking to uncover with regards to slot performance?
AK: Product placement and explanation are key. First do some research on the type of guests that are visiting. At what time is which type of guest in your Casino. When are the Time-on-Device players in, the guests that ‘buy time and entertainment’. Most likely they are not the heavy gamblers, but every Casino needs these people for their loyalty. They are the group that keeps the Casino in business. They look for games with a high RTP and they look for a social environment. So make sure that you place the Slot Machines for this type of players together in a nice area of the Casino so these guests can be social. The other group, the real gamblers, don’t want to interact. So make sure your machines with very volatile games are located at places where you can have some privacy. And the last category, the Fun player who comes in on (weekend) nights: they want the Casino experience. They come in for the whole package, so make sure you have the slots with a high entertainment value, like Trademark games, located near the bar and the restaurant area.
And for explanation: make sure these groups know where to find the Slots and that they know how to get started.
SBC: Where are the land based and igaming sectors witnessing convergence in slots play, and is this mechanism having any success?
AK: At ICE 2015 I saw some manufacturers offering server based systems that could offer this, but I did not hear of a Casino using and offering this to their guests. I strongly believe in the combination and also see big opportunities here for landbased Casinos. They have the trust, they have the name and Brand and they have the physical touch point. Things the online Brands have to fight for and earn over time. For sure legislation in a lot of Countries will be a barrier, but if the landbased Casinos don’t get started with experimenting soon, they could be overtaken by the online ones, when they set a foot on the real ground.
SBC: How much customer feedback do you take in when researching a game theme and mechanics ,and why are some themes more popular and why do certain slot mechanics fail to engage with the consumer?
AK: That is the million dollar question. What makes a game popular? I think it is a combination of luck and experience. There are thousands of game designers and daily new games come to market. In my opinion a lot of games can be popular, but they won’t become popular in their own.
What makes a game popular? A game is popular when people win on it and see other people win. Seeing success makes you eager. So how do you get a game to be a winning game? When a lot of people play on it.
In Grand Casino Luzern we had a successful case of making a game popular. One of the Casinos favourite linked progressives was replaced by a new one: Cash Fever from Spielo. With the replacement also the minimum bet (all lines x minimum credit value) was tripled, from 50 rp to CHF 1,50. So that was a big risk. But we made sure that no guest could miss that there was a new game on the floor. For a period of three months we promoted this Slot Machine. With a trail of stickers on the floor leading to it, with lifesize displays promoting it, with Quickcards explaining the games and the Bonus Game, with clips on the Multi Media system explaining the game and more. And it worked. The target was to reach the level of the old progressive and to increase the frequency of Jackpots. The old progressive had a Royal Jackpot hot frequency of once every two months. The new target was once every month for the Royal. By the promotion, the right configuration f the Jackpots and because it is a nice game the frequency of the Royal became once every two weeks and the income and revenue of these machines were the best of the whole Slot Floor.
So I think most games can be popular as long as you explain and promote them
SBC: Is there a fear that slot play may become boring for consumers. What are your thoughts on the matter, and what could be done to rectify this particular issue?
AK: No, I don’t think Slot play will become boring. The game is a mechanic for something else: tension and excitement. It is not about what you see, in the end it is about what you feel. Of course the Game play and graphics are important, but the manufacturers keep on improving and using new techniques to secure that. “Me against the machine/system/casino” will always be popular, only the machine/system/casino will have to evolve towards the new techniques and possibilities the guests are used to in the other parts of their lives.
SBC: Finally what key learnings do you want delegates to take away from your speaker sessions at the Slot Summit?
AK: The first day is on Multi Media and Communication on the Casino floor. There are two important things I hope the delegates will take to heart: Multi Media can add to the bottom line of the Casino, it can make you more money. But only if you have a good strategy and secure the continuous flow of new Content. The second thing I would like them to do is walk around their Casino as if it was the first time they walk in. Is the routing good, is the explanation good, are the Slot Machines grouped together as it should and is it logical.
Arjan Korstjens Strategy Director at Quince Amsterdam