There are a few lazy assumptions flying around the gambling industry at the moment; two of the biggest ones are that desktop gaming is dead, and that online slots just can’t be tailored for the retail experience. These sweeping statements simply aren’t true, but there are many suppliers and operators out there in the marketplace who believe these myths as fact, and are failing to act as a consequence. And it’s the players who are missing out, as the result is they’re not receiving the proper omni- channel experience they deserve. This is in spite of a revolution promised some time ago which for the main part has failed to materialise. There’s no question that the quality of online slots has improved greatly in the past few years, thanks largely to HTML5 developments that have allowed suppliers to create better content. However, because many of these design studios have struggled to adapt to working across different sectors, it means that the majority of games are still only being developed for specific platforms and not across the board.
Of course, mobile has overtaken desktop as the most used platform in recent years, but that doesn’t mean the computer channel is no longer in use.And for suppliers who focus simply on mobile devices when developing content are misguided. There’s still a huge number of people out there who prefer to bet and play slots on desktop, simply because it’s more convenient for them.
Plus, by building a slot purely for mobile, you’re telling people which device they have to play the game on, rather than giving them the choice. It should always be up to the player to make their own decision.
It’s the same scenario when adapting games for the retail experience. There aren’t enough suppliers out there willing to offer their games across retail, online and mobile devices. It’s only really firms similar to ourselves, who started out in retail (land-based) and went online, that have been able to bridge the gap. More than 70% of Lightning Box Games’ slots are online, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t forgotten where our roots lie – in the land-based environment. Just a couple of months ago, we made our UK retail debut by partnering with William Hill to distribute our new release Silver Lion Deluxe into the bookmaker’s Licenced Betting Offices (LBOs).
This wasn’t a simple switch from online to retail, however. We worked closely with the operator and UK content localiser BetDigital, in identifying the difference in player habits between their online and LBO audience, and the result saw us develop a bespoke title based on one of our popular online games – Silver Lion. The promise of a proper omni-channel experience for customers can still be delivered on, but only if operators and suppliers are prepared to collaborate. Land-based operators who are unwilling to offer an online experience, likewise those suppliers refusing to adapt their offering for both online and retail, are missing out on huge opportunities. But it’s up to all the stakeholders involved to provide that seamless experience that the modern customer craves.
Peter Causley is managing director of multi-channel slots designers Lightning Box Games, which he co-founded with David Little in 2004. The studio provides gaming content for land-based, online, and social operators. Prior to Lightning Box, he spent at decade at Aristocrat where, as Jackpot products marketing manager, he helped design a host of iconic games. David Little is a director and owner of Lightning Box Games. Prior to Lightning Box, he started Gameworks International following senior design roles at IGT and Olympic Video Gaming.