The Gamification of Online Slots
Have you been noticing a lot of changes in the recent slot games? Nowadays, most online slot games have storylines, bonuses, etc. and as much as you like it, you don’t really understand why these changes – called gamification - are happening.
What gamification is and why it is so appealing?
First of all, what does gamification mean?
Gamification is the principle of integrating a game and/or competition aspect to a mundane task to make it more engaging to the participant. Marketers quickly adopted the principle of gamification and have been using it in various types of campaigns or day-to-day experience. For example, the Nike+’s app makes the joggers compete against one another by recording the speed and distances of the user’s run and then encourage them to share their result. This functionality isn’t just a plus for its users, it’s also a great way to market the brand. That’s gamification. Another example you probably came across is the new type of in-app advertisement that lets you try out a game directly in the ad. That way, it engages you and makes you more likely to want to keep playing and download the game. That’s also gamification. But how does it link to online casinos?
Gamification in online casinos
One of the biggest challenges to casino games has always been to keep the player engaged, especially when there is no way to keep track of the progression. In today’s world, where most gamblers grew up playing video games and where even grocery shopping can be gamefied, it’s hard to imagine that one of the biggest entertainment sectors would not see the benefice in adding video-game aspects to their gambling games.
Online slot games, in particular, have been gaining more and more video-game qualities. Between the 3D graphics, the creation of bonus symbols and the insertion of mini-games, video slot games started lining up with traditional video games years ago. But it’s only in the past few years, think 2016/2017, that online slot games really started to resemble traditional video games with the added bonus of playing with real money. The new features, such as the one described below, keep the player involved and wanting for more.
The narrative of gamification
Here is a question for you: which one of the games below do you think you’ll play the longest?
- On this cowboy themed slot game, you have the classic reel/payline experience. You make your bet, spin and then either loose, win or hit the jackpot. Then you try again.
- In this other slot game, you meet a pirate who must win diamonds to buy back all the broken pieces of his lost treasure map. In addition to the classic reel/payline experience, every spin gets your pirate closer to finding his fortune. When you get a piece of the treasure map, you get to level-up and your prizes get bigger. The second game will probably keep you engage the longest. By adding a narrative content to the slot game, you get invested in the plot and want to help your characters reach their objective. That is even truer if the casino software developer added other features to the game.
The only negative aspect to these types of games is that they can become highly addictive and it can become hard to keep track, which is why here at Jackpot City we have a responsible gaming guide to help you if you feel the need.
In many slot games, new content is unlocked as the player powers through different levels. Every time he reaches a certain point, like a fixed number of spins or an amount of wins, the games changes and gets a new background, color scheme, bonuses… It can even make your avatar grow up. That’s the strength of unlockable content. It can be highly personalized to the game and helps the player advance. It can even increase the wins as the bonuses grow and grow.
As we saw in our example above, the pirate’s main objective is to find his treasure by obtaining the pieces of his treasure map. Your objective is to help him as well as increasing your own gains. By having a final quest that is decomposed in two sets of smaller objective (obtaining diamonds to obtain the pieces of the treasure map), the game is sure to keep you coming for more as every spin makes you more committed to achieving your (and the pirate’s) goal.
Gamification and levels
We just saw that gamified online slot games often have the player reach some objectives. But what fun would it be if nothing happened when he reached his aim? That’s why these games often use the concept usually found in traditional video games: levelling-up. If you’ve ever played Forge of Empire, for example, you’ll remember that every era had a certain number of objectives (research, building, experience points –XP- etc.) to reach. Once you achieved them, you would get to a new age with its own unique challenges. Gamified slot games are often the same.
For example, every time our pirate gets a new piece of the treasure map, he gets to travel to a new island with its own background, bonuses, mini-games… This feature is called map completion.
Sense of community and competition, social media
Best online slot games also made the choice of integrating a sociable side to their casino game. Instead of having the gambler play by himself, they connected the game through the internet, allowing a vast range of new functionalities to arise.
User profile and personalization
A profile is a collection of information on the player. On an online casino, the information a profile could ask for is a username, country of origin, rank… It can also give the possibility to customize your avatar. So instead of having a typical pirate character, you could for example give it a wooden leg, make it a woman or dress it in a yellow vest.
The user profile you created can be used for various things. It can be simply used to have an idea of who the other gamblers are. But it can also be a way to integrate a greater interactiveness to the game. If the casino has a forum, the profile can be used to give the players an idea of who they are chatting with. If the game is played on a tournament base, it can be a great way to know who you are up against.
This gamification element is a crowd favourite all over the world, and Canadian players are no different. It has something to do with the thrill of having your username show up on top of the others as well as the clear objective of trying to beat your opponents.
Another recent aspect of online casino is the inclusion of sharing on social media. Today, most land-based and online casinos have a Facebook page that allows them to share the newest information to their guests and reciprocally give the players the possibility to share their achievements with the world!
Points or virtual currency
Another element borrowed from traditional video games is the creation of special in-game currency that has no monetary value outside the game (or casino). This type of money is a great way for the casino to keep you engaged, as collecting it becomes an additional challenge at no cost to the casino. In the pirate slot game for example, every spin makes you win real money but you also have a chance of winning diamonds. Those diamonds are the ones that make you advance in the game so you are equally pleased to receive them.
*It should not be compared to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, that have real-life value even if they only exist in digital form. *
An example of slot games with a gamification system: Avalon
Microgaming’s series Avalon, which can be played here at Jackpot City, is a perfect example of the inclusion of gamification in an online slot. Although Avalon II came out in 2014, it still is a favourite in Canada and in the rest of the world. Between the storyline, graphics, bonuses, mini-games, etc. this game is the proof that gamification of slot games works.