Slots should look to Call of Duty for inspiration: Savvas Fellas


Slots just aren’t innovating as fast as some people would like. While everyone in the industry bangs their head on a few key ideas, Savvas Fellas, founder of Lindar Media, suggests they might want to look to games like Call of Duty: Warzone for inspiration.

During a panel at the SBC Digital Summit Berclona, Fellas bemoaned the lack of new features in slots gaming. “Innovation, our bar is too low,” he said, citing a lack of progress specifically in skill features in gaming.

But one of the hottest video games this year, Warzone has lots of features slots could borrow from, increasing social aspects that could do wonders during a time of pandemic.

Things like customized guns, blinged out name tags and spray paints are not new features in video games, having existed for years now. While they provide no tangible advantage to the player, people pay and work to get the ones they want, and that encourages others to do the same. That could hold lessons for the slot industry, Fellas said, as so many crave a more social experience while locked at home.

Alexandre Tomic, co-founder of Alea and moderator of the panel, was initially skeptical that there was any social element to slot gambling. But he noted he’s come around to the idea, as recent visits to the casino made it plain to him that slot players are always peaking at each other’s machines to see how they’re doing.

Unfortunately, the more you gussy up a slot experience to allow players to compare each other’s journeys, the more you risk annoying regulators, hoping to stamp down on the more glamorous advertising efforts a slot can offer.

The panel also discussed how operators can increase their M&A value by building their own slots, rather than renting from providers. “You’re diminishing your own value by taking 3rd party stuff,” Fellas said.

Josefine Hellstrom, Head of Casino for Casumo, agreed, but noted that many operators simply lack the tech stack nowadays to build a compelling offering. Emphasizing the future of skill-based slots, Vladimir Malakchi, Chief Business Development Officer for Evoplay Entertainment, noted: “As operators, you should have some skill-based games, and you should work with this audience. And also for software provider, you should have diversification of products.”

Toward the end of the panel, Tomic asked what innovation’s the panel’s seen as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and received mostly silence in response. Malakchi pointed to a sport themed offering from NetEnt, but the group agreed that this wasn’t really innovative, and more capitalistic than anything. Fellas suggested that with the increased expectation from regulators to monitor all of the risk elements of slots, it makes for very few opportunities to truly innovate.

The SBC Summit Barcelona Digital will be running for the rest of the week. If you’re attending the event, come visit us at the booth, or stay tuned here for all the latest coverage.