With lockdowns now, a distant memory for most, player appetite for socially-oriented experiences is on the rise. Through features such as leaderboards and chatrooms, multiplayer games foster a sense of community – Gambling News spoke to Lloyd Purser, COO at FunFair Games, and Ivan Kravchuk, CEO at Evoplay, to discuss the latest in this innovative space.
Q: Through what means can developers create a sense of community in their games?
Lloyd Purser: Creating a competitive environment is one simple way for developers to create a sense of community. Unless it’s a player vs player game, like poker, casino games are normally against the house. However, at FunFair Games we are seeking to introduce a level of competition that increases the community element. If everyone is competing against each other as well as the house, it creates a far more immersive and collaborative experience.
An advantage for us is that we build our games with the community in mind, so our games are purpose-built with multiplayer at the forefront of our development process. This means we don’t take existing formats and try to force a communal experience there. Rather than just adding a social element to games as an afterthought, we look to make it an integral part of our product offering.
Ivan Kravchuk: The notion of community has a dominant theory behind it, one that is a scientifically proven fact. Human beings are social creatures, and by our very nature we need to interact with each other and create emotional connections.
From the standpoint of iGaming developers, this social element should be actively implemented into products in order to be consistent with the expectations of modern audiences. This is particularly important when speaking about the younger generations of players, for whom social media usage is a part of their everyday life. For example, 74% of centennials spend their free time online, with 73% communicating and 59% accessing entertainment, while millennials demonstrate no less interest in chatting and entertaining themselves via online channels. It has also been revealed that approximately 40% of both generations prefer socially fuelled and community-based gaming activities.
With this in mind, multiplayer games and their functionality become the solution. Thus, in-game chats, the opportunity to share achievements, cooperation modes, and social push notifications are all features that resonate with those that seek socialisation. However, we should remember that there is a category of players who choose multiplayer games because they crave competition rather than social interaction. In this case, leaderboards, achievements, and tables with other players’ progress can satisfy the needs of an emerging demographic.
Q: How do you differentiate your games to create higher levels of player engagement?
LP: We stay true to the foundation of our games, making each one social, community-based and engaging. It’s important that players are actively participating in the game, our games encourage real-time decision making which not only keeps players engaged but creates an immersive environment for everyone.
There are also other features you can add to increase player engagement, such as tournaments, leaderboards and community jackpots.
IK: A non-standard approach is what characterizes Evoplay. We like to ‘play’ with various features to invent something new. But at the same time, we leave room for traditional gaming elements which ensure a high level of engagement.
Speaking from a product point of view, we have incorporated features like room chats, an opportunity for players to create groups based on rounds, share results and invite friends to the game. This provides players with a social gaming experience and tools that encourage interaction. To enhance the feeling of competition, games such as Lucky Crumbling, High Striker and Save the Hamster include a list of top players or leaderboards – this motivates players to earn higher scores.
As an iGaming developer, we focus not only on the ‘interior life’ of our games but also on their external opportunities. To support the competitive spirit of our products, we organize local and network tournaments for our partners, picking top, themed, or seasonal games for the event and offering a lucrative prize pool for the first 100 players with the highest score. Due to the social and competitive nature of these tournaments, they act as a powerful engagement tool and provide players with days of slots-based fun.
Q: What is the importance of interactivity in games such as these? How do you demonstrate this in your own games?
LP: You need to offer some level of interactivity when you’re targeting a demographic of players that have grown up with games that are built around multiplayer capabilities. The passive single-player online gambling experience is not enough to grab the attention of these players.
Our games are community-driven and require real-time decision-making, which makes them more strategic and drives more interactivity. This can also increase the competitive nature of the title, with players battling it out to outperform each other and rank higher in the leaderboards.
Additionally, there are other elements you can add to games that improve interactivity, live chat allowing players to communicate or nickname features where players can create their own names and or avatars – building a better sense of community amongst players.
IK: As mentioned above, the social element is what needs to be elevated in iGaming products, simply because there is a strong demand for it. This is why multiplayer games provide the perfect platform for implementing social mechanics as they encourage interaction between players.
In our portfolio, we utilize the value of social practice, providing players with a plethora of ways to interact with each other. Whether they want to be a part of the community and share their accomplishments with people who have common interests or raise their level in the game hierarchy, there is a feature that meets their needs. We develop our games with the interest of players in mind. It’s important to deliver a social and interactive experience in modern games, this can make a huge difference when aiming to attract younger players that seek such features.