Firstly, thank you for all taking the time to ask us questions! We love to engage with our players and help them understand everything about slots, so let’s jump into the questions!
When designing a new slot do you allow the designer full creative control or do you come up with a concept as a business and then design?
We come up with a concept as a team and then brief the designers – they then have the challenge of bringing it to life. Our concepts are constantly being driven forward by our creative director, our product director, and Andrew, our CEO.
How long is it from the drawing board to the casino? How long roughly does it take to develop a game?
This is a question a few of you asked and I think you might be surprised at the answer: it takes around 12 months to make a game, from initial conversation through design, development, localisation, certification, testing and – finally – go-live!
Sometimes the cycle can be slightly quicker, but on average that’s our timeline, mostly because every game has something unique or fun in it! We are very much a boutique slot studio, not a factory churning out games as quickly as we can.
When coming up with ideas for slots, where do you start? Is it with a name or a slot concept?
The name is one of the very last things we do! Each game has a code name internally and then it is given a name.
How many designs and ideas actually make it through to the planning phase?
Less than half – we spend a lot of time bouncing around the idea internally to see what we think of it, and then we show a pruned down selection to some of our customers (Casinos) to see what they think. Sometimes an idea needs more work or just doesn’t quite have the magic we’re looking for.
Is it all completed in a creative room or can somebody just say “I have a great idea hear me out”?
We are a very collaborative team and listen to each other’s ideas, so it is very much anyone who can have an idea! Most often, though, the good ones tend to be from Andrew, our CEO.
Is there a set period of time to submit and to make the game to beat out other providers or do you all talk to each other?
Game developers do not talk to each other a lot, believe it or not, so we often have no idea what others are releasing and when. This might seem odd when we are all releasing similar themes, but there is honestly no game developers’ WhatsApp group, as helpful as it would be sometimes!
With so many games following the same concepts, does the popularity of other slot providers’ slots using this concept affect your slot building process and if so why? It is surely easier to get lost in a large market of similar slots?
One good thing about us is we always innovate and try something new, either with a completely new feature like 7 Elements or 10x Rewind or with a twist on a popular idea, as with 4 Fantastic Fish. So far, we have not had anyone release the game as us! 🙂
What is the most popular slot that you have released?
Our top 3 slots are:
- 4 Fantastic Fish
- 90k Yeti Gigablox
- 9k Yeti
Our new game, 4 Secret Pyramids, is also going down very well with players so far, so we’re excited to see where it settles on our list! If we included games other than slots, 100 Bit Dice would be our second best performing game over time.
Do any slot providers have a gamble themselves?
Winner – Niallo
We do and it’s one of the things that makes us different – we know what makes those magic moments and pain points in games. If we didn’t play a game, we know no one else probably would either.
It would be like a cake baker saying he didn’t like cake – how would he know what tasted awesome and what didn’t?
How easy is it to create a new slot that’s based on existing franchises or TV shows? For example, does permission need to be given from HBO for a game about The Walking Dead? Do the studios give out a list of things you can and cannot do within that slot? I’ve always been curious about that kind of thing.
It all depends on the brand and what has been licensed to make the game. We haven’t licensed any brands at 4ThePlayer, but in my previous role I was heavily involved with blockbuster brands from Paramount and Warner Bros.
The games studio needs to licence the brand from the owner, or sometimes via an agency. After that, yes, you are right: they give you a list of what you can licence and – importantly – the cost to use the licence. Generally, the more that you want to use the more it will cost, especially if you want to show things like actors’ faces or video clips from the brand.
Making branded games is a very expensive business these days, and it’s really important to choose brands that are worth the time and expense.
Seems you are releasing games more often – have you ramped up production recently?
Indeed we have! Anyone that has worked in a startup knows it can take a while to fine-tune the engine and get things working as you want them to. We are now full steam ahead with a plan to hit 10 or so games a year. However, we never plan on releasing 5 games a month or anything like that – remember, we’re a boutique, not a factory. Hopefully, you can tell we take a lot of time with each release and we also spend time doing things like this and we want that to always continue.
Can we see some more games like 6 wild sharks, where you decide how the bonus plays out?
Winner – Jsw2020
Funny you should ask as we have another game coming soon – 4 Deals with the Devil – where the player can choose exactly which bonus they would like to play for. Watch this space! 🙂
Do you plan on staying volatile with all your slots now?
We naturally do make more volatile games, because it allows us to do more with the features – it opens up the journey you can go on and also the big win potential. That said, we do have some ideas for some slightly less volatile games, so as ever watch this space!
How many spins do you do in testing for a new game?
Each game has a different number of spins that we test it with based on the frequency of the features and max wins, the volatility of the slot and the complexity of the features, which can all dictate how quickly we are able to run tests. In general, we run around 100 billion spins per slot!
What do you think of the UK as a market compared to other jurisdictions? Is it difficult to navigate in comparison to other territories?
Regulation always adds challenges but we believe it is important to protect players so we welcome it. The UK market does have an ever-growing list of regulations but that is to be expected with a mature market.
Do you think there is a way for all providers to make games fairer for UK players in terms of RTP? We have a huge disadvantage in terms of no auto spins and no bonus buys. How do you think this problem could be solved in order to allow a fair game for everyone?
Winner – Slotsim
Good question! As a games provider who strives to think about the player in everything we do, we always want to ensure all our players can enjoy our games, no matter where they are. That said, we’re also a business, so we need to adapt to market demands to get our games live.
To try to find the right balance between player and market requirements, we’ve started to offer our games in a few RTP flavours, which allows casinos to choose what works for them.
Ever since our very first game, we have put SLOT STATS on our splash screen, clearly showing the RTP and an insight into the maths profile. Here’s a little secret for you: if the SLOT STATS box is GOLD, then you’re playing the best RTP you can get for that game. 😉
In terms of other features, we are always innovating to try and find solutions for players. For example, in 60 Second Heist we introduced a POWER BET feature that allowed UK players to change the chance of hitting the bonus with a slider – this had never been done before! We will keep innovating and ensuring our UK players can have fun playing our games too!
One last point, we never balance our games for Bonus Buy: our games are balanced for normal play, then we add the Bonus Buy as a final flourish.
Are slots rigged?
You can probably guess our answer to this, but no they are not. Our games are 100% fair and
certified by an independent test house using multiple different regulations and tests. We only build slots that we would want to play, so we don’t want them rigged either!
If a high-stakes player loses 1 million on max bet and has a poor RTP, e.g 25%, and now the slot is massively over RTP, then a few hundred casuals play it on min bet, does the slot pay back the excess in monetary values or the excess RTP%? Surely it can’t pay a few hundred grand to anyone on min bet so it must be a higher RTP?
That’s not how the maths of a slot works. Regardless of what a lot of people say online, a slot is never hot or cold. Slots work such that the chances of winning are the same no matter when you spin it, and the expected return to player (RTP) is the same every spin. This is unless the slot has some sort of persistent feature which may adjust the RTP over time – in which case this should be stated in the help file.
If a player gets either lucky or unlucky in big or small bets, it makes no difference to how the game plays for other players. Every casino will have games that have overpaid or underpaid over a period of time, be that days or months or even years. Many players can have great runs winning for long periods of time – this is what gambling is about. On average, however, over many games and many players and a long period of time, the casino will have a good understanding of what their expected revenues are based on the varying number of games they have at different RTPs.
When one of your games comes out are they programmed to throw out bigger wins for an amount of time to get you in as they seem to then not pay as good when they’ve been out for say a few weeks?
No – all our games are random and you have the same chance of hitting a big win on day one as on day 1,000. Look at 9k Yeti, our first game: we’re still seeing players hitting massive wins!
Does the algorithm change when you buy a bonus from a normal bonus? Does it run a check in the code to see if the slots were paid previously? Does the algorithm differ from landing the bonus as normal?
Winner – SeanB29917
Nope: all a Bonus Buy does is trigger the bonus – anything can happen from there! In some of our games, the Bonus Buy has a higher RTP, but that aside it’s exactly the same game and still totally random, regardless of what it has just been paid out. It’s slightly different if it’s a jackpot game that is progressive, which is where a jackpot gradually goes up as the game is played, as if it has just paid out then statistically it probably won’t again for a period. Right now, none of our games have progressive jackpots.
Does the stake have any impact on the outcome of a game, or is it simply a multiplier of a determined game outcome? Often feels like some games play better and hit more often on different stakes so it would be good to know if it is really just the luck of the draw or there is some RTP consideration given to the stake of the spin.
The stake has no influence on any of our games: play on 0.10p or £10 and the chance of winning is exactly the same! The RTP is exactly the same regardless of stake.
When a slot has an option for the “double the chance to win the feature option” is this truly double the chance when it’s activated?
Yes, if we say it’s double the chance then it has to be double the chance to be certified by the regulators!
AR / VR – have you started looking 5 years in the future where you could portray a bonus in AR on a mobile phone. Huge scope here for entertaining bonuses, maybe linked to the metaverse and some community crossovers so YouTube subs can participate in the bonus live on stream via a QR code with avatars.
We never say never, and we are all about entertainment and innovation 🙂 That said, the market is not there yet: I remember how long it took for mobile casinos to become a thing. It was ‘coming’ for years and no one used them – then suddenly, BOOM! It’s possible we will get there one day with VR, but it needs to become more mass market and the prices of the tech need to become more accessible for all.
Do you think it’s worthwhile starting to put a development team together now, especially now the whole VR / wearable accessories are technologically becoming far more improved on and more available to the average person at reasonable prices?
Unfortunately, it’s not currently worth it for us. It might be one day but currently, we want to focus on what we are good at and that’s making action-packed, exciting games.
Regulation and tech are always an interesting mix – for example, the idea of a viewer playing in the slot is great but probably a compliance nightmare, so it’ll be interesting to see where it all goes!
With the GPU market every year expanding its range and power in AI and physics rendering, mobile phones getting better at rendering, why are slots never optimised for high-end systems with 4K, HDR and better 3D graphics than these constant bland 2D rendered games? It’s 2022 – even a 9 year old Pentium can run a 3D rendered slot. Can we not get a game with banging graphics, as that is what attracts me to play a game!
We are always working with the latest tech! However, we need to allow for the lower end of the market as well as the top. You would probably be very surprised to know we have to support phones that are very old, as a lot of players still use them, and you’d definitely be surprised at the average performance of the systems players use.