Casino operators always ask themselves which slots to install at the top of their online casino site and which ones to send down, to the bottom of the page.
Of course, casino operators want to maximize their casino revenue and less interested in how players enjoy the slot game.
At the same time, it is clear that the interest of the online casino operators is the same as the players’ interest because if the players like a particular game and it looks more attractive to them, the game will give the casino operator more money.
“Player appeal”, or similar words with the same meaning, is a widely used term in the slot machine games providers industry. The term often refers to the revenues that a slot machine is able to produce during operation. This article thus refers to player appeal as to all the combined real as well as putative structural characteristics of slot machine design that have an impact on the amount of revenues per unit it produces, i.e. the win/unit of a slot machine.
Slot machine design is here used in a broad sense of the word to include the attributes of software, game features and looks of slot machines that affect both the putative perception of the machine as well as how the machine works functionally.
Slot machine providers usually measure player appeal in relational terms, i.e., if one slot machine is receiving a higher win/unit than competing machines of a similar type (given the same initial conditions on the online casino page), the difference is said to be due to higher play appeal.
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The player appeal of a slot machine changes over time. A slot machine that once had a high degree of player appeal might lose this status, e.g. due to new competition of other player appealing slot machines, or because players becomes tired of the concept.
Despite some shifts over time regarding the relative importance of different competitive factors, player appeal has remained the most important. Online Casino managers base their slots location decision foremost on the perceived player appeal of the slot machines available. This has a clear rationale; casino operators is not so price sensitive regarding the costs of the equipment because of the relatively short payback period for slot machine purchases in relation to their lifespan of high win/unit in operation.
As a result, even minor differences in the player appeal (win/unit) of a slot machine have a relatively high impact for the casino’s bottom line in the long run. The empirical part of this article give examples of how certain innovative player appealing slot machines have been able to produce more than twice as high win/unit than average. Given the discrepancies in player appeal between different slot machines, there is a constant innovative search for more player appealing slot machines among games providers.
Pricing power, on behalf of games providers, is closely related to the player appeal of their machines. If a slot machine from a certain games provider has player appeal that allows it to produce a higher win/unit than its competitors, that machine can be sold/rented for a significantly higher price than other slot machines with average player appeal.
One condition for this pricing power is that the operators are aware of the potential player appeal of the slot machines that they install. For new slot machines, operators are uncertain of the player appeal for their investments both in the short and in the long run. In order to decrease this uncertainty, it is common practice in the industry that slot machines are provided for a trial period in operation among online casinos before a purchasing/location decision has to be made.
For slot machines with exceptionally high player appeal, games providers have instead introduced other business models than sales. Revenue-sharing agreements between the games provider and the casino operators are the common business model for these machines. Provided that the player appeal of these slot machines de facto is considerable higher than the average, this business model are able to gain more revenues for games providers, and come to grip with the pricing power inhibiting effect of uncertainties among casino operators.
People deal in different ways with the primitive urge to get our literally mind-altering chemicals flowing: some will literally risk there lives in driving over the speed limit, extreme sports, others do so competing in business, while gambling introduces an entertainment fashion of dealing with risk.
To understand how different performance attributes of game design could affect player appeal, it is useful to break down the slot machine gambling process into its constituent parts and study each part’s performance variables in detail. The gambling process for slot machines could be divided into three related sub-processes, each with performance variables that add to the total win/unit. Hence, the order of causation of factors influencing the player appeal of a slot machine is the following:
Performance attributes of the slot machines design → Performance variables in the gambling process → Player appeal (win/unit) of the slot machine.
The performance variables that theoretically would produce the highest win/unit for casino operators can be constructed. The initial attraction of the slot machine would be high. The gambling activity would be characterized by a lengthy total gaming session, a high amount of money wagered on each gaming event, and a high gambling event frequency.
Finally, the retention potential of the machine would be high. In the empirical reality, compared to the theoretical ideal, this theoretical process is not achievable. In many instances, a number of the tradeoff between performance attributes has to be made.
Different slot machines create player appeal by influencing the gambling process in different ways. Slot machine gamblers are also a heterogeneous group with diverging gambling preferences. For example, a slot machine that is player appealing among local gamblers might not have the same appeal among worldwide gamblers.
Underlying the performance variables in the gambling process is a large number of performance attributes of slot machine design. These performance attributes are both based on the psychological perception of the slot machine as well as how it functionally works.
They could e.g. be based on such things as the feel of control of the button of a spinning-reel machine (start/stop), volatility, jackpot sizes, near-miss designs during play, game math, different game “features”, game themes, bonus games, interactivity, perceived entertainment value, perceived immersion in gambling, perceived ability to soften losses, attraction of look and signage etc.
Technological development has been a key driving factor in enabling the introduction of new types of performance attributes.
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