A couple of months ago, I responded to reader requests for information about social media slot games such as Playtika’s Slotomania, WMS Gaming’s Jackpot Party Casino and IGT’s Double Down Casino. The games, I explained, did not have to meet the stringent regulatory requirements as games played for money in casinos, but that an effort was made to mirror the casino experience with math as close to the real thing as possible.
Shortly after that column appeared, I was contacted by Stephen Murphy, vice president of business development at High 5 Games, and he offered to expand on the social games situation.
High 5 is a developer of slot games with a strong reputation within the casino industry for quality and performance. Founded in 1995, it has developed games for major slot manufacturers including IGT, WMS, Bally and Konami, and is currently working on a large number of games for Bally and IGT. Player favorites including Da Vinci Diamonds, Golden Goddess, Shadow the Panther and Dangerous Beauties are High 5 Games.
It also has its own online social casino, High 5 Casino, available as a Facebook app. The math, Murphy explained, is the same on the online games as in brick-and-mortar casinos.
“For social casinos, this industry and this market isn’t all that old,” he said. “It’s only been a few years since the first was started. In the beginning the slots were not real at all.
“Even the companies that had ties to the land-based end, I think they would experiment a little bit. They’d try some new things out on social, and they didn’t really resemble the games in the casino. One thing High 5 was always different about is that we did offer the exact same math and the exact same games on social. We were the first ones to actually do that. Then Double Down Casino changed their math model so it resembled exactly how it is on their IGT games.”
At the High 5 Casino online, there’s a mix of games familiar from casino play, along with games developed first for online social gamers. I loaded the Facebook app after speaking with Murphy, and played Hoot Loot, which I knew as an IGT game in casinos, and an unfamiliar game, Miss Universe Crowning Moment. It’s a “super stacks” game -- meaning there are long strings of the same symbol stacked on the reels, leaving the possibility of multiple-payline hits. I even filled the screen with the same symbol stacked on every reel for a nice win the first time I played.
Today, bringing online social slot players the same experience they get on casino slots is a point of emphasis. Partly, that’s because it’s an experience that’s proven to be attractive to players.
“There’s a lot of time and effort spent on crafting these games for the land-based casino market, and they tend to be pretty good games,” Murphy said. “If a game is successful at Caesars in Las Vegas and the Borgata in New Jersey, then it probably will be successful online, in social. So I think that’s why you’re starting to see a push to do the real math involved in these games, even though legally and from a regulatory standpoint, you don’t need to.”
That includes the math models on games you haven’t seen in casinos, games developed for online play.
“Companies including High 5 are creating games for a social audience, but we want to be able to take that same content and eventually transfer it over to a real money environment,” Murphy said. “We build the same games for both markets. One thing that social allows you to do, you get data very quickly on what’s working and what’s not.
“When we create a game for Bally, from the moment we start the game to the moment it hits a land-based casino, it can take 12 to 24 months, just because of the regulatory process and what not. But social, that timeline shrinks from 24 months to one or two months. So you can really flesh out ideas quickly, see what themes resonate with players, and optimize that product.”
That, he said, leads to better games for everyone, online or on land.
“In a lot of ways our social games have created stronger games for our land-based business,” he said, “because we find out immediately what’s working what’s not working, and we’re able to take those successful ideas, those successful brands, and then pitch them to our land-based partners.”
Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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