Realistic CEO outlines move into retail
Realistic CEO outlines move into retail
A week after taking over as chief executive, Realistic Games’ Andy Harris talks to TotallyGaming.com about the release of the content supplier’s first truly multi-channel game. ‘The Fruit Machine’ is a five-reel, 20-line slot, which is available via digital devices and at more than 2,000 Ladbrokes LBOs…
TotallyGaming.com: Tell us about your new game, The Fruit Machine, and what makes it different to others in the Realistic Games portfolio.
Andy Harris: The game is our first truly multi-channel product – that is to say available on desktop and mobile devices as per our other games, but also on terminals in Ladbrokes’ retail estate. It will be known as The Fruit Machine to Ladbrokes players and the Fruit Factory for other clients of ours. It is unusual for a number of reasons. A few of the big land-based suppliers have migrated online, but very few have gone the other way and we’re very excited about the opportunity it presents. It is a five-reel, 20- line slot, which has a unique Reel Runner bonus round and an innovative gamble feature. It includes a B2 / Super Game mode consisting of five linked spins, where the chances of entry to the bonus round are increased. A lot of time and effort has gone into making the front end eye-catching.
TotallyGaming.com: What prompted the move into retail and will The Fruit Machine be the first of many ventures onto this channel?
Andy Harris: The first product has been a while in the making because we wanted to make sure we got it right. We also wanted to make sure we had the right team in place to be able to build this game and future ones. Realistic’s heritage is in creating land-based games so we have an empathy for the environment, player and channel. We think innovative online companies like ours can really disrupt retail. We have some radical ideas for retail game designs, but ones we think will be comfortable and successful in that environment. Our intention is also to convert a number of our existing games for retail terminals.
TotallyGaming.com: What challenges does provisioning a game for retail as well as online and mobile present for game designers?
Andy Harris: A clear challenge is the one around staking structures and how you tailor these according to channel. There are different return-to-player requirements too, which can fundamentally change the way the game plays. There are also environmental differences. Retail games have to be very visually appealing to capture the imagination of people playing, and attract others to play it from across the shop. It is a much more social experience in comparison to the solitary world of online play. You also have to take into account different session times, which are far shorter in retail. It is a big decision to do retail games as it is a ruthless environment. There is no quarter given on a 40-game terminal that doesn’t have the real estate and ease of navigation of a desktop environment. Any title that doesn’t perform is quickly removed.
TotallyGaming.com: What can retail learn from online and vice versa when it comes to games design?
Andy Harris: In retail, the pressure to deliver more content often leads to the roll out of very similar games, as suppliers attempt to mirror the successes of earlier titles. But in the long run these fail to provide the element of differentiation players crave. I think there has been a lot of innovation in the online sector, and perhaps retail can learn from this and provide land-based players with a more exciting offering, with greater breadth.
Online could also do well to learn from some of the principles that guide the way retail manages its content. Because there is limited real estate and only four terminals allowed in each betting shop, for example, only the most successful content prevails, thus creating a suite of the highest quality games for the retail player to choose from.