While slots have dominated the industry for countless decades, casino operators are constantly trying to evolve their offerings to meet the needs of a younger audience and revitalise their casino lobbies with fresh ideas and concepts.
One game format has experienced a dramatic rise in popularity in recent years, so much so that some suppliers have dedicated their entire output to the genre. Refusing to crash and burn, these games have gone from a cryptocasino fad to, arguably, an igaming colossal in the space of a few years.
Although slots and the design process behind them were at the forefront of the CasinoBeats Summit’s panel sessions to shine a light on crash and ask – what makes them so popular?
Hosted by Lina Sennevall, Senior Account Director at Square in the Air, the ‘crash games: the perfect player experience’ panel attempted to break down the aspects of the genre, finding out what makes it so appealing to a modern audience.
Admitting that crash games do appeal to her as a Millennial that grew up playing video games, Sennevall stated that “they’re very simple, I like that,” before asking the panellists: “What is it that makes it so exciting and attractive?”
First to respond was Anastasia Rimskaya, Head of Account Operations at Aviatrix, a supplier that is completely focused on producing crash content. To answer Sennevall’s question, Rimskaya explained: “First of all, it’s the simplicity. It’s pretty understandable how much you’re going to win, what you need to do and what actions are there.”
Throughout the session, the notion of simplicity and its effect on player satisfaction was a constant topic of discussion. Crash offers players minimal decisions to make in fast-paced game rounds, combining to provide a streamlined experience with little education needed for the player.
While this is a key factor in the success of the format, Rimskaya mentioned a huge component left to address when it comes to crash’s appeal – the illusion of control.
She stated: “Most of all, it’s really easy to attract betting players who get used to the feeling that they control the game.”
This led to nods of agreement from the remainder of the panel, as Dr Laila Mintas, CEO and Co-Founder of PlayEngine, took the opportunity to outline the importance of making players feel like the power is in their hands, comparing it to other sectors of the gambling world that fall slightly closer to her remit.
She said: “We’re all in the entertainment industry, entertainment is all about illusion. Somehow, we sell the illusion that a player is able to decide what determines the outcome and has decision-making power.
“We see that strongly in sports betting as well. In sports betting, you might help the player to get educated about sports so they feel like they’re making a very informed decision. In terms of crash games, it is similar.
“Of course, there is the decision-making power there because a player decides when they drop out right? I think that’s what makes it so thrilling, you give limited power to every game and that’s what makes it so attractive.”
Bringing some Greek market expertise as the final panellist was Stefanos Patsourakos, Betbazar’s Business Development Manager.
He turned the attention of the conversation to the social aspect of crash titles, noting that when meeting the demands of a younger audience, how players interact with one another is just as important as how they interact with the game itself.
“Gamblers always like to share their experiences. But we have to consider that the players are now getting younger and we have to adjust, especially on social communication and gamification,” Patsourakos noted.
Rimskaya also explained why the sociability of crash games is a key enforcer for the genre, questioning whether studios would be able to succeed without implementing a social aspect into their titles.
She added: “I’m sure you can do it without but, in our case, we try to be more innovative and put more [social] features there so that players don’t feel alone. You feel that you’re playing with someone else, it’s not just like pushing the button in a slot.”
Sennevall reacted to this idea by suggesting that “slots are very solitary in comparison to some of these newer games,” however Mintas claimed that this social aspect of the industry has a further reach than first thought.
Mintas remarked: “The big, big challenge that we see with sports betting is connecting players. There are lots of solutions that are looking into making it an even more social experience, like sharing your betting slip with your friends and sharing your bets on social media.
“With a crash game, it’s actually very easy to create a community where people can share their experiences, trash talk and all those things. So I think that’s a big advantage here.
“Also, being social is so important not only to the new generation, but to slots players. We see it a lot, people want to communicate with each other.”
As crash games are a relatively recent product, Sennevall posed a question to the panel to try and understand where these games are best placed in an online casino lobby, and how operators can attempt to cross-sell these popular titles to access players more interested in sports betting or slots.
With this in mind, Mintas explained: “I am totally into these crash games. Not only as a player but as a supplier. What I’m interested in is figuring out how to use them to basically attract sports bettors to it.
“We’re always looking for ways to cross a sports bettor to a casino product, or the other way around, and there are a lot of different ways to do it, but, it’s most important to have an attractive product that people understand.”
This is where the simplicity of crash games comes into play, as Mintas continued: “Nobody wants to get educated and learn about these things, it takes time and resources. Because crash games are so simple, it’s very easy to shoot them to the sports bettors at the right moment.
“So, in terms of where they sit [in operator platforms], we see them basically being somewhere between casino and sports betting.”
Before closing, Sennevall asked whether crash games pose a more serious risk to players than slots, in regards to problem gambling and addiction, with Rimskaya quick to denounce any notion of increased risk or harm. Not more than usual,” she said. “I wouldn’t say that it’s higher risk than any other game.”
Patsourakas reinforced this claim, explaining how players have much more education at hand to be aware of problem gambling and identify irresponsible gambling behaviour to allow for crash games to be seen as a great risk.
Patsourakas added: “What I think is, in the last two years, risk management from the players is getting more valuable. They’re more educated on controlling their money over their hours played and I feel that it is up to the player.”
“Of course, there is risk, there is addiction, but from my experience, it depends on the actual person and how they can control their budget. If they know that it is entertainment and not to save their life in incomes.”
Adding to that point about crash games and the risk they present as an instant game, Mintas stated that she is yet to see any studies that suggest games like crash are any worse than formats that have been prominent in the industry for decades.
Mintas said: “Gambling addiction is very important and we all have to make sure we stick to the rules, but I personally haven’t seen any studies that show that crash games have more addiction risk than slots in general. So I would probably see them equally.”