Today we have something really juicy for you as we sat down with Gabor Reisman, Head of Game Production, and Magnus Wallentin, Games Ambassador at Play’n GO, for an exclusive interview.
We got to ask for their opinions about Bonus Buys, their favorite Play’n GO slots, and what it’s like behind the scenes when creating a game.
We also dug into their plans for the US market, their passion for rock-themed slots, volatility in slots, how you can join a company like Play’n GO, and much more. Enjoy!
Play’n GO is one of the top slots developers in the world and has released hit titles like Book of Dead, Reactoonz, Fire Joker, Rise of Olympus, Moon Princess, Legacy of Dead, Gemix, and many more over the years.
CasinoWizard: Bonus Buy is a hot trend in the online slots industry and something that most game studios add to their games these days but Play’n GO doesn’t. Why is that? Wouldn’t a Bonus Buy option on, for example, Book of Dead, break even more records?
Gabor Reisman, Head of Game Production at Play’n GO: Responsible gaming is amongst the most important principles for us at Play ‘n GO. We believe that we can create highly entertaining games for players of all types, in all markets, without having to rely on mechanics that we feel aren’t in the best interest of players long term.
We feel that Bonus Buy games are unsustainable in the long run for both players and the industry.- We want players to enjoy their gaming experience, and giving the option of buying directly into a bonus round, often for over 100x their initial stake, is not a great gaming experience and shouldn’t be offered in any market by suppliers or operators.
CasinoWizard: Of the +20 new Play’n GO slots released so far in 2023, which one are you most proud of?
Magnus Wallentin, Games Ambassador, Play’n GO: My favourite Play’n GO game from 2023 is Gerard’s Gambit. I am particularly drawn to the game’s sense of exploration and the built-in learning experience it offers. As players travel with Gerard, uncovering new destinations, completing missions, and unlocking additional mechanics, the game grows in size and complexity.
It caters both to new players, who can enjoy the gradual introduction of features, and also to experienced players, who appreciate the exploration aspect and the fact it offers a total of four different built-in gamble features. I think this game will work wonderfully as a cross-sell opportunity from other products. Let’s say you want to introduce a sportsbook player to the world of slots- we feel that Gerard’s Gambit would be the perfect game to use.
CasinoWizard: Play’n GO is one of the game studios with a clear strategy to release a lot of slots per month (usually 1 per week), how does Play’n GO handle the struggles to keep up the quality with that kind of pace as this must be quite a challenge?
Gabor Reisman: We have a number of large teams developing our games, so, needless to say, we have a robust production process in place with some of the best talents in the industry. We meticulously plan everything, but at the same time, we remain agile, ready to make changes to improve our processes or products if needed. Innovation is also very important to us – Magnus mentioned Gerard’s Gambit earlier, which is a great example. Keep watching our roadmap though, because there is more to come this year.
CasinoWizard: Play’n GO has a passion for creating rock-themed slots starting from 2018 with House of Doom to a number of semi-known brands all the way to world-known iconic rock bands like Kiss, Alice Cooper, ZZ Top, and Def Leppard. Where does this passion for rock-themed slots come from and do you have any more rock slots in the pipeline? When are we going to see an AC/DC or Van Halen slot?
Magnus Wallentin: Glad to hear you are a fan of our music-branded slots! What really excites us when working with any external IP rights holder is how it gives us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a new type of brand experience. We’re deep diving into the world of music and entertainment as it allows us to reach global audiences with a wide range of tastes and preferences to make fans excited to play – so stay tuned to what is coming next in our portfolio!
CasinoWizard: Play’n GO also made a diversion to pop music with the release of NSYNC POP, is this a category of slots that Play’n GO might explore even further?
Magnus Wallentin: Our goal with our brand strategy is to cater to a mainstream audience with branded IP titles, while also developing niche and regional games to celebrate those types of audiences too. As an entertainment company, we love translating the Play’n GO experience to different realms, so players will definitely see us exploring new IP ventures in the music space soon.
CasinoWizard: When looking at the whole Play’n GO slots catalog, which are your three all-time favorites and why?
Magnus Wallentin: Royal Masquerade – Venetian setting, masked visitors disguised as kings and queens. The music of this game is superb, I really love it – especially the big win sound effects where the opera singer goes off followed by the electric guitar and the backdrop of the string ensemble. Also, the win-spin feature on the free spins and the fact that you can play one cent per line helps when you have less than 10 cents left of a deposit.
Tome of Madness – I’m a big fan of H.P Lovecraft and the presentation of this game is a perfect combination of the backstory, the presentation of the theme, and exciting mechanics.
Reactoonz – it was revolutionizing the industry when it was released and is still considered a timeless classic. Many still consider Reactoonz the best cluster pays/grid game that exists. It blew new air into the cluster pays game category with its exciting features and incremental gameplay.
CasinoWizard: In Ronin´s Honour we saw a more detailed backstory being shared with the players, is this something that Play’n GO might do also in future releases to make the slot more enticing and engaging for the player?
Magnus Wallentin: Yes, absolutely. Background and themes are very important to us at Play’n GO and it’s a direction we’re going to continue to go in. For a long time, we have put a lot of effort into creating narratives with text and videos for each game, and in Ronin’s Honour it’s extended into the actual gameplay, for which we have received a lot of positive feedback. It’s an idea that we will continue to expand on with upcoming releases.
CasinoWizard: There is an endless range of Ancient-Egyptian-themed slots out there and Play’n GO has some of the leading ones with Book of Dead, and Legacy of Dead, why is this theme so popular among game studios and players, in your opinion?
Magnus Wallentin: Overall, the popularity of Ancient Egyptian-themed slots can be attributed to the combination of a fascinating historical and cultural background, iconic symbols and imagery, a sense of adventure, and the previous successes of games in this genre. These elements come together to create an immersive and captivating gaming experience.
CasinoWizard: We have talked a lot about themes and obviously, game mechanics are also an important part of a slot’s appeal. But let’s talk about the maths model. Play’n GO slots often don’t have enormous win potential compared to other providers, but players do get a lot of features that can pay decent to great wins. How important is the maths model in terms of a slot’s success?
Gabor Reisman: Math and design are the heart and soul of our games. Combine strong mechanics, clear player goals, an exciting story, and an intuitive UI with stunning graphics, and you have a winner. This is what we aim for with every single game we create.
I am well aware that there are some studios that offer crazy high max exposures, and while we have high volatility games, we refrain from the extremes on purpose. These theoretical max win potentials are just that for most players: theoretical. The chances to hit the max wins on those games are extremely slim, so they are more like a marketing tool to attract players. We have a very different approach at Play‘n GO; we want to be fair and responsible, and at the same time provide our players with the highest entertainment value possible.
CasinoWizard: Talking about big wins, a clear trend of the past 5 years or so has been that demand for high variance slots. Do you take the variance into account when designing a slot? Would you say some themes or gameplay features are a better fit for high-variance slots than others?
Gabor Reisman: Of course, volatility is taken into consideration when concepting our games. We also have all volatility models in our portfolio – some players prefer frequent but smaller wins, while others might enjoy bigger wins even if they are less frequent. You can make any theme work with any volatility, as long as the player goals are clear, and you have an exciting user journey.
CasinoWizard: Play’n GO entered the US market in some states this past year. How has the US audience reacted to the brand new (for them) catalog of Play’n GO slots? Do they like them as much as the European market clearly does? Was the release of the Craps game recently (March 30) intended for the US market and will there be more games created specifically for the US market?
Gabor Reisman: Our games were received exceptionally well in the US – releasing a Craps game made sense to coincide with our entrance into the US market due to the popularity of the game there, but due to its high quality, it has proven to be very successful in other countries as well. US players have a very specific taste when it comes to slots: simple mechanics and graphics are very popular. This is often the case in countries with a dominant presence of brick-and-mortar casinos – very similar themes and mechanics tend to be popular in the UK and Germany as well.
We do have quite a few released and upcoming games that were created with one eye on US player tastes: Colt Lightning, for example, proved to be extremely popular. We have two more fantastic releases with features that are player favorites in the US coming up before the end of the summer: Fox Mayhem with Cash on Reel mechanics, and Monkey: Battle for the Scroll, with an in-game progressive jackpot.
CasinoWizard: If any of our readers ever dream of joining a company like Play’n GO and becoming one of the guys that get to create slots with you, what would be the path to becoming a slots creator? Can you mention a few roles and what qualifications and studies are needed to enter such a career path?
Gabor Reisman: There are of course many different colleagues that work on every game and we are always on the lookout for talented developers, artists, and so on – it’s worth keeping an eye on our website https://talenthub.playngo.com/jobs.
To speak a bit more of roles in my department of Game Production specifically: learning Product / Project Management focusing on scum / agile frameworks in IT can start you on a path of becoming a Production Coordinator, who manages the day-to-day work within the game teams. From this role, with time, you can become a Game Producer, who is leading the game team from a strategic standpoint.
Being a Game Producer is a very complex and senior role: you need to understand everything that goes into the game, the players and the markets we are making the games for, the math model, UX / UI design, artistic direction, or the implementation done by developers and much more – Game Producers are ultimately accountable for the games their teams produce. You can see some people transitioning to Game Producer roles from Game Design, Art, and Math as well as Game Development.