Innovating the games that you might find at a casino can be a tricky business, as any change made to a winning formula brings with it some risk. Tony Plaskow, commercial director for Black Cow Technology, has a keen eye for the best approaches to new gambling technology, and he joined CalvinAyre.com’s Stephanie Tower at the recent ASEAN Gaming Summit 2019 to discuss his perspectives.
The gambling industry hasn’t lacked for innovation, and what will come next is always a top topic for discussion. “We as an industry are constantly looking for this innovation, and we have these conversations every conference we go to, and there’s a few things that need to happen for proper innovation to come through,” he said. “From my perspective, we’re a software company, so we provide a game server platform, which we believe is efficient and enables rapid development of games.”
Despite decades of advances in gambling technology, the space has reached a bit of a plateau. “To be honest, most of the industry at the moment is working with legacy systems,” Plaskow explained. “They’re slow, and they’re difficult to use. So innovating games on using that software can be a challenge. On top of that, we also had a conversation which revolved on a requirement and a need to innovate. And the reality is that our industry, particularly in Europe and also we heard in the Asian region, doesn’t really need to innovate at the moment. They make lots of money, they’re still growing, we’ve had continued growth in Europe for 15 or 20 years.”
It might be a few years until the next major leap in games, and that will come as the next generation is ready to play. “I think until that point comes where there is a need for us to provide content for a younger player base, I think it’s going to be a challenge to see actual genuine innovation,” he guessed. “We see lots of people building slots, they’re still making lots of money. Even though we talk about over supply of slots, the operators still have an almost insatiable demand for them. So I think we got a few things to happen from a software perspective and also a player perspective before we genuinely see any innovation.”
What will that next new advance be? It might be a simple variation on something familiar. “I think it’s going to be a bit more step by step rather than this kind of pipe dream of building a brand new game that everyone’s going to suddenly play, I just don’t think that’s going to happen,” Plaskow noted. “I think slot players now, they sit at a machine, they press one button, they have very little interactivity. Online, they have slightly more interactivity, you can start choosing your bonus rounds now and your volatility. And I think the next generation are going to demand much more interactivity. They’re going to demand community features, interacting with other players during the games, and to be honest I’m not quite sure anyone really knows what that looks like yet.”
Delivering that innovation will always need to take the operators needs in mind, as they won’t necessarily be willing to risk what they already have for an untested quantity. “A lot of them are very big companies, and they have targets they have to hit,” said Plaskow. “They know how much money they’re going to make by launching another slot. If you go to them with something that is different, there is a challenge for them to hit the same ROI. And then, as I say, from a software perspective, and also a hardware perspective, testing games at the moment, you’re testing games on a hundred plus handsets.”
Don’t expect too much to happen until the industry demands change though. Plaskow concluded, “The market will slow down, we’ll stop seeing growth, and as I say, the player demographic will slightly change and people’s demands will come different to a slot based economy.”