If you are a regular visitor to America’s real-money online casinos, there is one slots brand that you will have noticed more and more often over recent months – High 5 Games.
With hundreds of games released every month, it is difficult for developers to stand out from the crowd and impress both the operators populating their slots rooms and the players logged in to them. Yet High 5 has managed to do it, establishing a status in the top six of the Eilers-Fantini Online Game Performance Report, without having to invest in the type of expensive promotional hullabaloo employed by many rival studios.
SBC Americas decided to take a closer look at how High 5 has managed to take the low-profile route into the top tier of games developers and become what one of its operator partners described as “one of the suppliers to look out for”.
The High 5 Games story so far
High 5’s status among the leading developers in the North American igaming market will come as no surprise to anyone who has paid attention to the company’s progress in 2022. Its list of launches includes FanDuel, BetMGM, DraftKings, Rush Street, PokerStars, and Loto-Québec across jurisdictions such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Connecticut, Ontario, and Quebec.
From the outside, it could appear as though the company has managed to race into a position as one of the market leaders over the course of just 18 months. However, the key to understanding the success is to realize that it has not actually raced to its current status. In fact, its rise to the top is based on longevity that has enabled it to develop a deep understanding of what players want, which it has used to produce games that really perform for operators.
Founded by Anthony Singer in 1995, High 5 built its reputation for innovation by developing video slots for IGT’s cabinets and producing such smash hit titles as Da Vinci Diamonds and Golden Goddess. A subsequent move into the online social casino space saw its games reach huge new audiences – more than 28 million players at the last count – and provided the High 5 team with a treasure chest of information about features that work and how to earn customer loyalty.
The accrued player insights and game design experience left the company ideally placed to move into real-money gaming when New Jersey’s igaming market went live and then to expand into international territories. High 5’s games are now enjoyed by players in every regulated online casino market around the world, thanks to its partnerships with some of the global industry’s biggest brands.
In 2020, with real-money igaming looking set to take off in the US, the High 5 team focused on the engaging products, unique features and promotions, and service levels that would be required to succeed in their home nation. By 2022, those efforts saw the company able to announce new market entries and new partnerships every month.
It’s about more than just games
Obviously, any games developer with serious aspirations of success needs engaging titles that keep players entertained – and High 5 has hundreds of them. They range from long-running franchises, such as the hugely-popular Green Machine games, to imaginative one-offs including Retro Riches and Cannon Cove.
The feature-rich titles have been developed using the studio’s philosophy of ‘listen, learn and improve’, which sees the team utilize operator feedback and player data to inform the next generation of games. However, it is not only individual titles that benefit from this approach, it is also the imaginative Rapid Rewards promotional program that has proved such a hit with operators.
Rapid Rewards features a network-wide monthly prize pool that is delivered in-game in the form of random cash prize drops of up to $1,000, feature boosts that create additional chances to win, and super boosts that multiply prizes. Together they work to change the format of a game as it is being played and create an added level of anticipation, surprise, action, and excitement for the player.
Unusually, the program also allows players to defer their promos and use them at a later date, allowing them to begin tomorrow’s play in the knowledge that they have, for example, 20 boosted spins to use. It’s easy to understand why the combination of added in-game excitement and delayed gratification keeps players coming back to High 5’s titles.
For operators, Rapid Rewards is proving to be one of the top-performing player retention tools in their armory. It is also one of the most cost effective, as the model means it is a way for their registered players to enjoy a more entertaining experience without it costing the operators money or time.
One operator told us: “It’s amazing how High 5 was able to push Rapid Rewards out so quickly and continue to modify and perfect it as they go. It’s easy to launch, minimal effort from our side and automatically increases exposure on the High 5 brand.”
Such is the effectiveness of the program that when you log in to any FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars or WynnBET real money online casino, you are likely to find High 5’s latest games and Rapid Rewards front and center in the slots lobby. Not that the High 5 team will be resting on their laurels, as a host of new engagement features are in development for the program.
One of the biggest planned enhancements is the addition of progressive jackpots, which will offer players the chance to claim a big win without having to spend more. Coupled with the existing flash prizes and the introduction of gamification features such as leaderboards, the jackpots will form part of a Rapid Rewards brand package that players will instantly recognize and that operators will be able to add to their site to drive engagement and customer loyalty.
The games and rewards program are backed by something else that operators really value – a commitment to great levels of service. From established relationships with regulators and making integration as painless as possible to a willingness to develop individual plans for each operator partner dependent on the demographics of their player base, the focus is on service rather than gimmicks.
As one satisfied operator puts it: “This partnership doesn’t feel like work, it’s fun and rewarding to work together.”