Social slots are catching up to video slots. They are a booming business, and growing every year. Playtika’s revenuereportedly amounted to $237.4m in Q2of 2015, and was just sold to a Chinese consortium for $4.4bn.
At first glance, those are absurd numbers. Video slots are played for real money, while social slots can be played for free forever, and buying $5 can buy you $500 worth of play time on a real-money game.
And yet, the facts are the facts. And there are strong reasons why social slots are catching up. The big social slot companies are doing some things right that almost no big video slot company does.
Here is a list of the six most important reasons social slots are gaining ground:
- Social slots provide a fun gaming experience
From the players’ point of view, realmoney is played for fun but is a serious business played for real money. Meanwhile, those same players perceive social slots as something done purely for fun. This is supported by countless player questionnaires, not to mention their behavior.
The social slots that win are the social slots that treat the graphics as fun, not to mention the animations, the sound, the gamification, the pop-ups, and every aspect of the game.
- Social slots RTP is what the players choose it to be
Don’t misunderstand. The best social slots have a hard RTP on each of their slots, and none of them exceed 100% or ever reach past 97%. However, the social slot game is not just one slot. On the whole, social slots give the players ‘gambling money’ for free in a daily bonus, an hourly bonus, in gifts and in perks.
Theoretically, if social players played each spin for the minimum bet (1 cent or 1 dollar, for example), they would have an RTP in the thousands, because they wouldbe able to collect gifts that far exceed their losses in the game
Video slot companies can use math models that have A/B tested to improve monetization to social players and test them out on their own games. Simply take existing games that fit the bill and get the rights to use them
In social slots, the RTP is what the player chooses it to be. And yet, the companies still make great profits. This is because the players have a positive incentive to lower their RTP by raising their bet and minimizing the worth of their ‘free money’: They want to advance to the next stage, the next slot. And that is done by spending more money with every spin.
And so, a basic social slot experience includes great gifts and allows the player to choose the size of their bet, and by that ‘control’ the size of their RTP.
- Social slots research everything
Social slots research everything their players do. Social slots collect data points during all gameplay from millions of players every day. In addition, social slots A/B test many factors: from the marketing messages, to the pop-ups, to the graphics, to even the math of some games.
In fact, some of the top games are using A/B-tested math models that have been proven to improve retention and income by dozens of percents, as well as A/B tested economies that have also been proven to increase monetization by more than 50%.rea A significant percentage of the big video slot companies could do at least some research, but fail to do so, with some continuing to rely more on gut feelings and luck than on hard facts and research.
- Social slots use gamification that increases retention and virality
Social slot gamification includes: XP advancement, unlocking new slot games, a daily bonus, an hourly bonus, inviting friends for rewards, gifting friends, etc. The effect of all these things has been proven to increase retention and virality on a massive scale. The slots have to be good – but without those things, players eventually leave the game.
Video slots companies have also failed to adapt all the knowledge that has been gained about gamification over the last few years to create gamification specific to their games. Failing to adapt and partake in formulas that have been proven to increase retention means you stay behind and losemopportunities for profit.
- Social slot companies make fast decisions, work fast, and adapt fast
Not only do many of the top social slot companies make research-based decisions on which slot games to make (themes, symbols, features, math), but they have to churn out a new game every 2-3 weeks. This means that the decision time has to be very short, and the team that makesthe decisions has to be very small. In fact,it’s often one person, and the CEO above them, and that’s it.
Compare that to the bureaucratic way some of the top video slot companieswork: endless meetings, going back and forth, sometimes for months, before a decision about a single slot game is made. This stems from, at times, 1) the sluggish nature of a big company; and/or 2) the fear of the person making the decision to lose his/her job; and/or 3) the fact that no one has realized it can be done differently and quickly, based on research or expertise rather than calculated guesswork.
Creating art, animations, sound, math, and developing the games for a big video slots company can take 4-6 months on average, while the top social slots companies do all that in six weeks
Once a decision has been made, the process repeats: Creating art, animations,sound, math, and developing the games for a big video slots company can take 4-6 months on average. While the top social slots companies do all that in six weeks.
- Social slot virality is easier
People who bet for real money online don’t tend to spread the word and boast about it. It’s a secret. It’s private. But that’s with real money. When played for fun for ‘fake money’, players are happy to spread the word through viral messaging, recommending the game to their friends, and even adding friends on purpose in order to get more betting money.
That last item is a fact that probably can’t be changed: the secrecy is part of thenature of a real-money gambling game. However, all the other items mentionedabove can be changed: Some of the new video slots can become ‘fun’, in the way the social slot audience sees social slots as fun, with the big video slots companies benefiting from doing some research into why some oftheir games are popular and why some are not, which would help them make better decisions, faster.
New types of gamification can be implemented to make the games more retentive and therefore pay more. In fact, even a version of a malleable RTP gamification can be added, if done right, and taken into account within a game’s RTP. Those sluggish video slot companies I identified earlier can learn to work faster simply by eliminating many of the decision processes that make most oftheir work so slow and by implementing new procedures.
Changes are possible, but changes take time. And so, here’s a shortcut: video slot companies can use math models that have been A/B tested to improve monetization to social players and test them out on their own games. Simply take existing games that fit the bill and get the rights to use them. Or get similar models from experts that have created some of these models.
Perhaps I’ll talk about those models in a future article. For now, just know that in the same way social slots first used realmoney slots knowledge to create games, that direction can be reversed.
Now video slots can use social slot knowledge to create more retentive games that monetize better.