Relax Gaming Daniel Eskola: How Jackpots Have Evolved to Suit the Modern Player

We spoke with Daniel Eskola, Head of Research & Development at Relax Gaming who walked us through some of the company’s main considerations when designing jackpot titles. Eskola tracks the historic changes in the vertical and its reputational gains over the years, as well as Relax’s own part in the vibrant jackpot ecosystem. Read our conversation with Eskola here.

Q: How have player preferences changed in recent years with regard to jackpots?

Looking at the development of new mechanics and innovations compared to standard slots, there’s definitely been less focus on jackpots and new ideas. As a result, players have not had as much on offer when it comes to offering a fresh jackpot experience. From the supply side, we’ve seen a notable shift from infrequently dropping, life-changing wins, to far more frequent, daily-dropping jackpots. However, aside from that, up until now not much has changed.

With that in mind, our Dream Drop innovation fulfilled exactly what the modern player is looking for in a jackpot – combining those smaller more regular wins with the possibility of being in with a chance of life-changing Mega win as well. Given that we’ve merged the two, operators can expect to see a great deal of traffic with the jackpot, particularly when it’s hot. So far, we’ve seen two players hit the Mega Jackpot worth €997,779.17 and then €924,386.51. Player interest and recognition of the product are set to increase exponentially as a result, and we’re very excited about the months ahead.  

Q: Are jackpots an evergreen safe bet, or are players likely to become underwhelmed if the mechanic doesn’t see more innovation?

The key factor to consider is whether or not players are having the best possible experience for the money they’ve deposited. With this in mind, jackpot games need to offer a high level of entertainment, excitement and a sense of near wins.

Due to the nature of jackpot games with part of the players’ bets going into the jackpot pools, the risk is of course, that players may feel the deposited money does not last long enough, which is reducing the core component of the entertainment factor. If the base game and general mathematics profile aren’t up to scratch, then you’re just not going to be able to reach an optimal level of engagement and retention. Jackpots will always be an essential part of an operator’s offering as it carries with it the association of a that fantastic thrill of the big win – which means they can’t be ignored.

Q: How do modern jackpots compare with other tools operators have at their disposal in terms of the acquisition and retention of players?

There isn’t much that beats the message that you could be one win away from landing an astronomical sum!

At the end of the day, each player dreams of that big jackpot hit, as that’s what chance is all about. Utilising jackpots in a business’ CRM strategy is very powerful, but this needs to be done well or it will end up costing too much. Taking Dream Drop as an example for reactivating a lapsed database, compared to the use of some other classic tools on offer – such an exciting opportunity presents a far greater opportunity for uptake and success.

Advising the player that they could get 20 free spins if they log in – and informing them that Dream Dropis currently at €1.2m, with a guaranteed winner for someone currently ‘in’ the casino before it reaches €1.5m is a formidable combination. The win potential from normal slot games with low value is small and will not necessarily incentivise players to make the effort to log in for a small win. Change that message to winning a larger sum, and reactivation numbers go through the roof.

Q: Ultimately, if players enjoy their sessions more, their lifecycle will be longer. What innovations are being developed to make jackpots more exciting and enjoyable?

The key thing is offering players the feeling of “Oh, wow, I was close” and creating those moments of engagement-driving jackpot rounds. Big classic jackpots can easily feel too much of a grind with little in terms of anticipation and excitement. The game design here needs to be spot on to deliver the most entertaining feeling for the deposited cash. A sense of value for money is an essential ingredient in retaining players. 

This goes for both the game itself and the jackpot element – the modern player will not take to a subpar or mediocre game with a big jackpot attached to it. The combination of the two is what today’s players want from their slots experience.

Creating familiarity with Dream Drop over different games will be refreshing to players as well. We’re creating multiple games connected to the same jackpots, and each game will have a different way for players to enter and win each jackpot. Figuring out how to achieve this across different games will be extremely gratifying for players and will enhance cross-sell between the games.

Q: With the US regulating so rapidly, do you have any insight into how this demographic of players will respond to the most up-to-date jackpot offerings?

The US demographic is very familiar with jackpots both in the lottery sector with one of the jackpots being over one billion dollars and a frenzy from players across the country. Brick-and-mortar casinos have always had a large selection of jackpots and anyone walking around a casino will see jackpot amounts on many slots.

The land-based sector has previously been in the driving seat for mechanics, but the online sector is innovating at a much faster pace now. There’s an appetite for the right jackpot mechanics for both the US online and offline sector and this demographic feels completely right for this.

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