In a presentation at The European Lottery (EL) Industry Days in June 2022, IGT’s Srini Nedunuri, Vice President Global iLottery, shared video clips of recent player interviews and recommendations on how to create a winning eInstant player experience.
Some clear themes emerged from the players across Europe and the U.K., who offered insights in their own words on various topics, including what attracts them to an eInstant game and how they like to win. Players said they play for fun and entertainment; are attracted to catchy game titles, colorful graphics; and love bonus games and winning surprises. Some reported that they like the chance to win bigger prizes, and others like to win more frequently as they play.
Given the diverse player segments, each lottery needs a balanced portfolio that includes a variety of games. With its data-driven game design and portfolio management approach, IGT understands what games resonate with the different player segments. The company partners with lotteries to utilize game performance data and IGT’s eInstant formula for success to develop games and recommend the right game portfolios. The formula highlights the different eInstant parameters lotteries can use to optimize player experiences, deliver fun and entertaining games, and ultimately maximize revenues for good causes.
There are four main independent levers to pull, based on a lottery’s player base and jurisdiction:
Variety is “the spice of life” in an eInstant portfolio. Lotteries must understand which games will gain and retain their player segments in order to offer diverse play styles, mechanics, and themes that appeal to their wide audience.
From game performance data, IGT found that a fast-paced game appeals to both young adult players and traditional retail players alike, however, the game-mechanic appeal differs slightly. For example, younger adult players tend to gravitate toward the newer play styles like a tumble mechanic or jackpot progressive, whereas number match games appeal to a traditional retail player.
Longer play styles also interest both demographics, but different themes are engaging to different players. A crossword or bingo mechanic attracts a traditional retail player, whereas a younger adult player may try a casual play-style game with a quirkier theme, such as a game featuring emojis. Incorporating a range of entertaining themes is also important to achieve that balance.
Nedunuri noted, “New online players may be uncertain about digital content. Offering familiar brands from a trusted lottery encourages players to register and deposit. Omnichannel content that is available at both retail and online builds digital credibility.”
Incorporating popular licensed-content brands like Wheel of Fortune and familiar brands like IGT’s globally recognized proprietary brand, Cleopatra, are tactics to drive new player acquisition, along with seasonal content. Seasonal content is a nice surprise for players, and when a lottery increases game-launch cadence, they can accommodate content with a shorter shelf life.
Player Experience Optimization
Creating that immersive player experience and random rewards, as mentioned by behavioral scientist Owain Service during the keynote presentation, is key to retention. “As humans, we are likely to disengage if we never see any reward,” said Service. “We find these rewards, delivered randomly, much more compelling.”
A way to meet this need is by incorporating surprise factors like instant wins, multipliers, free turns, and entertaining bonus rounds into a lottery’s game portfolio. Nedunuri remarked, “Each game we design has elements of surprise plus elevated animations, graphics, and sounds. ” IGT’s Emoti Collect family of eInstant games is the highest grossing in the international market. Other popular eInstant titles from IGT include the Wheel of Fortune brand, Ruby 7s, Pots O’ Plenty, and Jammin’ Gemstones. In the European market, sales of IGT’s traditional eInstants lottery games and leisure-style games are also driven by the inclusion of plenty of bonus games.
”I'm attracted by cool graphics and bonus games, so if the game offers a bonus game, I'm in.”
Prize Structure Optimization
Players are drawn to play because of the games and brands, however, what retains this diverse group of players are the prize structures. Players like to win differently: Some enjoy the idea of winning a smaller, more frequent prize, while others will play for the jackpot. Optimizing prize structures is the third parameter that drives player experience and engagement.
For those who enjoy smaller wins, lotteries can include games with a casual play style, lower volatility, and a lower top prize. A “I hope to win the big prize one day” player enjoys a game with a faster play style, higher volatility, and a higher top prize. Match the right prize structure with the right playstyle and game theme to optimize overall portfolio performance.
Again, no two players are alike. Provide players a choice on how they want to play – lower price points offer play value for less, while a higher price point translates into the chance for a larger win. Every game needs a variety of price points and, through analysis, a lottery can determine the right mix and default price point for their market and player segments.
When a lottery only offers a single price point in a game, it only presents a game that appeals to a particular player segment. “For example, if you have 50 games in your portfolio and a particular player only plays $2 games, they filter in the lobby and only find seven with that single price point – limiting their choice,” said Nedunuri. On the other hand, with expanded, multiple price points, that same player could filter on $2 games and find all 50 games to play. Multiple price points expand the universe of available games and enhance the player experience with the ability to easily move from price point to price point within a game.
Putting It All Together
The four levers can be used together or separately. However, the following are two constant parameters throughout this process: Responsible Gaming and game analysis. Responsible game design is paramount and at the forefront of all IGT game development. IGT follows principles to ensure games are straightforward with a clear design, name, and symbol hierarchy plus include configurable game speeds that meet lottery requirements.
The second constant is game analysis. Player behaviors evolve over time. IGT and the lottery must continuously monitor game performance and use that data for game development and customer portfolio planning.
As noted by Naïké Van Hulle, Business & Product Management Instant, Loterie Nationale of Belgium (LNB), who manages eInstants planning for LNB’s iLottery program, “Our players have enjoyed our eInstant games since 2017. Today, our game library has nearly doubled, and we are delighted to offer a variety of game styles that appeal to a wide range of players. IGT works very closely with us to analyze game performance, make game recommendations, and deliver quality, relevant content.
“With IGT helping shape our roadmap, our mix includes casual games as well as games with adjusted play styles that increased our sales 100% year-over-year from April 2021 to 2022. We look forward to launching more games with IGT.”
IGT uses key performance indicators to understand how often a game is played and parlays the data into the development of new content. The company continues to raise the bar and is committed to developing top-performing content following Responsible Gaming principles as well as partnering with customers to provide players a winning experience.