Are Players More Loyal to the Games or the Operators? With Henry Mclean, Co-Founder, 4ThePlayer
Understanding player behaviour is the key to being able to maximise the iGaming user experience. As the market landscape continues to evolve, operators are increasingly adapting their product portfolio to match the modern customer’s needs.
We spoke with Henry Mclean, Co-Founder of 4thePlayer to get a better understanding of how operators and game providers can work better together to best engage today’s player and what product trends we can expect to see in the future.
Players behaviour in the iGaming industry is always evolving, what patterns are emerging amongst the current casino audience and how do you expect this to change in the future?
“One of the most prevalent patterns we’re seeing is the increased demand for volatile games. Players want big win potential and in order to get that they think they want the most volatile experience. This is especially noticeable on social media and in the streaming world.
Streamers often don’t play like the average player, so when players align their game expectations with them, those players might not get their desired entertainment experience.
However, we also see a trend and growth of player education. Players are learning more about the games they are playing and the maths behind them. One simple example is the ‘player revolt’ around RTP and multiple RTP versions: a quick online search will find a number of forums and conversations tracking this topic.
The subject will continue to grow and ‘math balance communication’ is now being looked at by regulators. When we released our first slot, 9k Yeti, we tackled this head-on and built math infographics for our game splash screens. We were the first game provider to show the player, as soon as the game loads, a clear representation of the game maths they are about to play and experience, allowing them to align their preference with the maths of the game.
Players often comment on how refreshing our approach is and it starts an interesting conversation with them about all the different aspects and requirements of a slot balance.
Finally, another trend we’ve observed is game provider loyalty. Up until a few years ago, a player was loyal to the casino and played whatever games were on offer there. Now players actively seek out game providers and interact with them, becoming fans of their games and wider brand.
We see this trend continuing and strengthening as players learn about game providers’ ethos and the games they create. It’s similar to car manufacturers: some car owners will only ever buy a Volkswagen as they strongly identify as a ‘Volkswagen owner’; we see a future where some players only play games from one or two game providers as they identify as ‘that player’.”
How can organisations adapt to the need of current players in order to create the best user experience?
In any other mature industry, selective stocking is normal. For example, imagine if a supermarket stocked every single brand of washing powder. The shop would only sell washing powder, and consumers would be overwhelmed with choice. It would be a terrible experience for the shopper!
More gaming organisations are now taking this approach, and we think this will continue to be the prevalent approach. In response, game providers such as us need to keep innovating to keep their content fresh and relevant. It’s easy to see this as a threat, but really it creates lots of opportunities, as one of our primary selling points is innovation in every game we create.”
What aspects of the user experience can be improved upon by considering the full experience cycle before, during and after play?
“This is something we think about a lot! The experience we want to deliver is maximum entertainment: during the development process, we’re always asking ourselves “does this improve the experience?”. If not, we don’t do it.
We always set out to make sure our games are ‘snackable’ and that the player can pick them up and carry on enjoying them. We’re never trying to create some Tolkien-esq behemoth that requires in-depth understanding and prior knowledge.
We are also concerned about the player profile and environment. We created the BIG REEL PORTRAIT™ mode because we know a lot of players are on the move and use one hand for play; we wanted to ensure we catered for this and offered the best possible experience in portrait mode without sacrificing the landscape and desktop experiences.”
Do you think that mobile devices are being used to their full capability when it comes to maximising customer experience? Is there still more that can be done?
Mobile phones continue to evolve both technologically and physically; some newer handsets outperform most players’ laptops and desktop PCs!
iGaming still has some way to go to fully harness this power and maximize the entertainment experience. This is partly due to speed limitations: a fast-loading game is essential. However, as the rollout of 5G continues this becomes less of an issue and we can expect much richer multimedia productions, more akin to console gaming or Vegas cabinet games than what we think of today as the mobile experience.
Another ongoing development is screen size. The evolution of folding phones is extremely exciting as this opens up endless possibilities in terms of screen real estate and what we can present to the player!”
Editor’s Note: The shift in customer mindset highlighted above is a clear demonstration of the increasingly urgent need for operators to adapt their product offerings. With so much content available on the market, it seems players are now becoming loyal to the game makers over the operator. So, it’s now imperative that the new trend of ‘player revolt’, as mentioned above, is taken into consideration when selecting game providers and attempting to match your players to the right game.
Also, the upcoming developments in mobile technology mentioned by Henry such as 5G and foldable phones will open up a whole new world of capabilities. Providing game providers with even more opportunity to maximise the customer experience.
An exciting future to look forward to.