Andy Sekula, Head of Games at Kalamba Games talks about the science of gamification
Gamification is a term coined in the early noughties and is typically understood to be the application of gaming mechanics to non-gaming situations. For the online casino industry, however, the term can represent any gaming mechanic outside of the core game. For suppliers, gamification tools have become essential components of game design over the last few years. Endless time has been spent on trying to create the next big thing and improving the application of gamification tools in order to increase acquisition and retention rates, as well as the longevity of a title.
The traditional definition of gamification describes a science that aims to maximise enjoyment and engagement while motivating people to learn by using game elements. Dozens of books have been written about the topic exploring how the brain reacts to gaming components such as leaderboards, levels and progress bars in a learning environment. Simply put, when you achieve something, dopamine is released, lighting up your brain’s reward centre and encouraging you to do it again. This reaction is what makes gamification tools so effective across multiple industries, from language teaching and fitness apps, making it more fun to achieve your goals.
At Kalamba, we consider most of our game mechanics – certainly anything with RTP directly attached – as being core to the game play experience and not gamified layers ‘on top’. However, we have introduced certain elements such as missions and achievements which look to extend the gameplay beyond that of a classic slot. By maintaining player advances in our missions or other in-game progression features, players can always return to where they left off and continue to strive for their goal. This has delivered substantial improvements in player engagement and retention within our titles.
However, as players get used to the existing gamification offering, they will soon start demanding more, especially as technology advances. So how do we ensure we fully utilise the science of gamification in the gambling industry as we look at developing these tools in the future?
We believe that operators and suppliers could work better together in sharing data to get a better picture of player preference. Operators have a lot of information that suppliers don’t have access to, and vice versa, that could assist in the development process of a new title. Knowing your player and what makes them tick is key and with more data, we can improve the gamification tools offered in a game.
One thing that we believe is currently under-utilised in the industry is the possibility of adjusting the player experience to better match player preferences. The current offering is very much ‘one-size fits all’, but with the technology currently available we will soon be able to dynamically segment players and better cater to their individual requirements.
We also think there are still many things to be learned from social gaming. One concept which has not yet been developed to full potential, for example, is building engagement meta layers within a supplier’s entire portfolio. This means adding another gamification layer buy introducing achievements and missions that are connected between different titles offered by a supplier. Meta layers somewhat resemble the way players help Super Mario on his quest through different levels and worlds to save the princess in Nintendo’s super hit. Including portfolio-wide features would greatly enhance the time spent on each session and ensure players come back to complete their missions.
In our view, gamification is not just a buzzword in the industry but will continue to be an important tool as the casino game sector evolves. Focusing on improving these layers of gamification will no doubt be on the top of our agenda in 2020 and beyond.
Ainsworth Primed to Progress After 17% Revenue Rise
AGT chairman Danny Gladstone said a 17% rise in full-year revenue to $284.9m will allow the company to “release new and innovative products to further improve the group’s financial results.”
Underlying EBITDA was $57.8m compared to $55.8m a year ago, with profit before tax, excluding currency effects and one-off items, rising 10.4%. International revenues, which now account for 86% of AGT’s total revenue, rose 24%.
North America revenue in the current period was $140.4m, a 17% increase, while revenues of $80.1m were achieved in Latin America and Europe, climbing 26%.
“This momentum was driven by continued demand in Argentina and a return in venue re-openings within Mexico and Peru. In the current period unit sales in Mexico represented 25 per cent of total unit sales compared to 10% in the PCP,” AGT said.
Gladstone said: “Following the announcement made in November 2023 where the company advised on the engagement of Macquarie Capital as the company’s financial advisor, a strategic review of all potential opportunities has progressed in the period.
“This strategic review encompasses a number of potential alternatives to maximise shareholder value. While there is no assurance that any transaction will result from this strategic review, we will continue to keep the market updated.”
AGT CEO Harald Neumann said the company is “well advanced to capitalize on opportunities and progress to further establish the Ainsworth name as a leading provider within the gaming industry sector.”
“Progress made in the current period further exemplifies the confidence in the strategies implemented which are expected to ensure progressive improvements in the company’s earnings in coming periods.
“The investments we have made have enabled us to upgrade our technology, hardware and improve game performance which are expected to deliver further improvements in our financial results and ensure our long term sustained success.”
Solverde.pt Partners with MGA Games and Endorphina
Solverde.pt, the Portuguese bookmaker and online casino, has announced partnerships with two new game creation studios: MGA Games, a Spanish company acknowledged for the creation and distribution of casino games, and Endorphina, recognised for the recent incorporation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in slot machines.
The new partnerships mark a milestone: Solverde.pt is the first online casino in Portugal with 2500 games on a single platform.
Solverde.pt’s partnership with MGA Games, considered the Best Technology Provider at the Asocación JDigital Awards and Gaming, marks the Spanish company’s expansion into the Portuguese market. Among the games released, MGA Games has dedicated itself to integrating Portuguese entertainment personalities in its creations, like the Portuguese football player Paulo Futre, among others.
At the same time, the first batch of 25 Endorphina games is launched that will be available on the Portuguese platform, exclusively, for a month. The Game Developer established in more than 25 countries, with ten years of experience, it was the first casino game producer to create a Slot Machine entirely using AI algorithms. Among the games available, “Glory of Egypt”, “Book of Vlad”, “Dynamite Miner” and “Fisher King” stand out.
These two new partnerships, and consequent game launches, reaffirm Solverde.pt as the online casino with the largest offer of games in Portugal.
“The 2500 games on a single platform are a fundamental step for the company, which reinforces its leadership position in the sector. The collaboration with studios such as MGA Games and Endorphina allows us to lead in Portugal with an offer of innovation and excellence. Notably, MGA Games has a portfolio of 100 titles, created with HTML5 technology, that stand out for their graphical quality, and Edorphina made history by being the first company to develop a game entirely powered by AI, demonstrating its dedication to pushing the boundaries of creativity and technology,” Sérgio Pascoal, Director of R&D at Solverde.pt, said.
“The studio is confident that our slots will impress Solverde.pt players, as well as make them feel the true thrill of the game. We share a passion for entertainment and reflect that by delivering top-notch, high-value content to operators,” Javier Lanfranchi, Sales Director at MGA Games, said.
“By offering the state-of-the-art games of Endorphina, exclusively for Solverde.pt, we aim to provide a unique and exciting gaming experience that reflects both companies’ unwavering pursuit of innovation,” Jonathan Martini, Senior Sales Manager at Endorphina, said.
Ensuring Integrity: The Role of Assurance in the Gambling Industry
By Salvador Garcia-Noblejas, Senior Regulatory Assurance Services at ComplianceOne Group
The gambling industry has its origins in the ancient period, and different types of games are found in almost every culture and civilization.
Over the last few years, we have witnessed an immense transformation, clearly boosted by technological developments. Among these changes, online gambling has grown rapidly, and with this new non-face-to-face reality, regulation and regulators have also embraced new ways to protect players, businesses, and the overall economy. Regulators have the responsibility to set the framework of common rules that define what is right and wrong, the means to protect all parties, and the tools that must be used when anyone does not behave as expected.
Assurance in a world of global risks
It would be inaccurate to assume that regulatory assurance’s only goal is to ensure that operators operate in a fair and transparent manner and meet their legal obligations. On the contrary, assurance also includes helping businesses understand the risks involved in the industry where they operate, analysing their strengths and weaknesses, and setting measures to mitigate those risks.
Assurance’s starting point consists of an interview phase where tailor-made questionnaires serve better understanding the reality to each operator and its actual circumstances. Once the assurance assessment is complete, a detailed action plan assists the operator in fixing any identified gaps, improving policies and procedures, and obtaining the maximum financial gain from refining their processes, products, and operations.
As part of the fast transformation of the gambling industry, with competitive new products, platforms, advertisements, and market expansion, we must not forget that bad actors and illegal practices also develop. This is the moment to ask ourselves if we are ready to face whatever can harm our operations. The most efficient way to know is carrying out a thorough audit of policies, procedures, and processes. This approach will certainly save operators from potential harm to their clients, products, brands, and finances.
Regulators focus on legislation, supervision, and enforcement. All stakeholders must comply with gambling regulations if they want to offer products and services or provide a safe environment to their clients. An important part of the gambling legal system is the fact that the industry is continuously overseen to ensure that all actors adhere to the established rules. At this point, operators need to ask themselves how ready they are to show sufficient evidence that their operations adhere to the law.
Smart operators will choose to comply with as many rules and regulations as their business is capable of, and they will ensure that records are properly kept. Company leadership is essential in ensuring compliance as it contributes to collaboration between departments and having policies and procedures that make the business run within the parameters of the legislation.
In recent years, some highly publicized enforcement actions, including fines and penalties, license suspension, and revocation, have alerted the whole gambling industry. From such cases, there have been increasing efforts in reviewing processes, improving systems, and growing compliance departments.
Experience in the gambling industry has taught us that it is crucial to have a detailed understanding of the regulations that govern the relationship between operators and players. Where knowledge has been insufficient, inaccurate, or out of date, some business decisions have led to unwanted consequences, sometimes catastrophic ones.
Knowledge, a solid compliance culture, strong procedures, and willingness are the formula to be ready for a regulatory audit.
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