As technology continues to improve in leaps and bounds, there is always more room for innovation according to Andrzej Hyla, Chief Commercial Officer at Wazdan. However, game developers must ensure that new features are not added to the detriment of the overall player experience.
We spoke to Hyla about the challenges associated with innovation, the industry’s fascination with ways to win and how Wazdan is using ‘special features’ to drive betting engagement.
SBC Americas: Innovation has become somewhat of a buzzword in 2020 and 2021. What would you say have been the biggest challenges to innovation within the casino sector?
AH: Last year posed many challenges across the industry due to the pandemic, but the ‘classic’ challenges for innovation still stand. The demand for fresh content always exists, even more so as an increasing number of players have turned to iGaming with land-based venues closing.
With more and more games released every quarter, the industry is becoming highly saturated and suppliers need to do something to stand out. Equally, with so many new features, adaptations, and collaborations occurring every month, it can be a challenge to come up with something truly original.
This is further compounded by increasing rules and restrictions imposed across numerous jurisdictions that developers need to continue to adapt to in order to stay in line with regulations.
There are different requirements on buy features, or time between spins etc, that exist across the globe. So suppliers face a balancing act between bringing thrilling innovations and games to market, along with staying on top of regulatory requirements.
SBC Americas: How has Wazdan overcome these challenges? Can you give us some examples of features that have helped you along the way?
AH: Linking a true passion for games with years of industry experience has allowed us to create a broad arsenal of content to assist operators with their wants and needs.
Our Unique Wazdan Features and Wazdan Special Features allow for a customizable environment for players to adjust the game to their own tastes, from speeds to volatility and more. Recently, we’ve also added the Buy Feature, where players can immediately progress to the bonus round for a set amount.
From a product perspective, we’ve brought out our hugely successful Hold the Jackpot games, which offer an engaging math model with a clear route to big prizes. With the mechanic being refined in every new title, it continues to bring exciting experiences to players.
We’ve also added a gamification product, Cash Drop, which tangibly helps operators drive player engagement and retention, further helping our products stand out.
Its success is evident across our collection of participating operator partners, as on average they see a significant increase of 219% Unique Active Players, 265% Game Rounds, and 366% Bet Sum when running Cash Drop promotions.
SBC Americas: Has there been a particular innovation which you believe will capture the attention of the industry in the latter half of 2021?
AH: It is no secret that we’re seeing increasing paylines and ways to win across the slots market. Players love games that offer more ways to win, while the allure of a huge win also adds excitement. This fascination with ways to win isn’t going anywhere, and we are working on offering more and more ways to win, with upcoming hit Jelly Reels that will deliver a staggering 16,777,216 ways to win.
Engagement will continue to be a key part of the industry, driving gameplay and delivering performance for operator partners, which is something we have strived to bring to the industry with our Hold the Jackpot bonus rounds and innovative content.
SBC Americas: How much innovation is too much? Do you think we are reaching a point where players are being overwhelmed with new features?
AH: We truly believe there is always room for more innovation. However, novelties should never confuse the user. Ultimately, players are lured by the big wins and enjoy slots that appeal to them visually. That being said, new features and mechanics must be intuitive to start with. I feel confident in saying that all of our 140+ games provide fans with enhanced gameplay without compromising on the immersive experience.
To cater to all types of players, we create diverse content, from classic fruit machines to innovative video slots. Even in the series of games that share mechanics, such as our popular Hold the Jackpot series, players will find diversified content.
Burning Stars 3, for example, is designed to appeal to fans of a classic fruit machine experience, while recent hits Fortune Reels and Prosperity Pearls add a variety of special features to increase players’ excitement – we bring something to the table for everyone.
SBC Americas: How have the needs and demands of your partners impacted the way in which you innovate?
AH: While Wazdan is a technology-enabled company, we carefully listen to our partners’ needs to provide the best possible experience for the players. Every game or feature we create is driven by profitability of our operator partners and backed with analytics.
Focusing on customer behaviour and the benefits to casinos allows us to keep our fingers on the industry pulse and keep developing high-performing content.
Cash Drop is a great example of how this approach works in practice. Our flagship promotional tool, which offers a wide array of customization capabilities, was created through a multi-level collaboration with partners who influenced its nature. Cash Drop continuously exceeds expectations proving this philosophy highly successful.
It is no secret that iGaming is an incredibly fast-paced, dynamic industry and disruptive brands are everywhere. As a company that prides itself on its technology focus, we are always on the lookout to create new mechanics and truly be a leader in pushing the boundaries of innovation throughout the space. Innovation is vital for a supplier to be successful, and it’s something we’ve continually excelled at throughout our history.