Game mechanics may not be the only important factor when it comes to the design of casino games, but according to the latest episode of the What’s Up Ygg podcast, ‘they are the thing on which everything else is built’.
As the show unveiled its fifth episode, speakers shone a light on game mechanics as Yggdrasil CEO Fredrik Elmqvist, Björn Krantz, chief global market officer of Yggdrasil, and Matt Ingram, chief product officer at Reflex Gaming, explained why the migration of game mechanics from the land-based slot sector to online is a ‘natural step’ and will help ‘rocket’ the levels of innovation within the casino space in years to come.
Kicking off discussions, Elmqvist expressed his beliefs that many of the mechanics we now see in the online space have been heavily influenced by their land-based counterparts.
He began: “I think that game mechanics have been important for a very long time in the land-based industry. The fact that game mechanics have migrated to the online space is just a natural development. I can see that the online development around casinos and slots has evolved over the years.
“When we were previously working at other companies, I think that the entire R&D section was inspired / outsourced to the land-based sector because they were the ones that had to work with the innovation side of things. Given the certification rules, you had to have the hardware where the chassis and mechanics had to be developed, there was a lot of R&D required to be sure that what you were putting out there worked.
“So it was easy for online at the time to just copy whatever was already out there, to make certain replicas. There’s no game developer that grew up in the online space who can say they have never spent a lot of time in Las Vegas and been super inspired by what’s out there.”
With more innovation and focus now being placed on the development of mechanics for the online space, Elmqvist noted that Yggdrasil has seen many of its partners working with its range of game enhancement mechanics, otherwise known as GEMs.
He continued: “You can look at the most successful games in the online sector and notice that they’ve got a ‘match’ from the land-based space.
“So it isn’t until we start getting the real talent in the online side, who can then start developing their own mechanics, that we’ll be less influenced by land-based games. You can start developing your own mechanics and treating them as your own intellectual properties.
“We’re seeing a lot of talent working with these mechanics, coming into our network and they’re working with our game enhancement mechanics – or GEMs.
“But I do think that it’s a natural step from land-based to online, and with these new waves of innovation that we’re seeing online, the rates of development are going to rocket faster than land-based innovation ever did.”
Ingram drew upon examples from WMS’ portfolio of branded mechanics – something which he believed helped players to recognise certain mechanics across a range of different games.
He said: “Game mechanic branding and IP creation isn’t a new thing. Companies like WMS were doing this 10/15 years ago, and that’s what really got me into slot games. The thing I loved about those G Plus Deluxe games, the hot hot super respin games too, is that they weren’t particularly sophisticated in their presentation but they had an amazing hook in them.
“That hook is what we’re now calling the game engagement mechanic. They branded them in a way that players could recognise that mechanic across a bunch of different games.
“The game mechanic is like the chassis of the car – it’s not the only important factor in the overall game design but, in my opinion, it’s the thing on which everything else is built. It affects how everything runs, and like a car, it affects how it handles. It really is the most important thing.
“Reflex Gaming have always liked to try different types of game mechanics. We’ve often experimented in the land-based arena, and we’ve naturally gravitated towards certain types of mechanics which work well within a legislative framework. That tends to mean that you know how to do a certain type of game mechanic because it’s worked well in that structure.”
Watch the full episode here