In 2021, we saw over 700 new themes hit the Eilers-Fantini Game Performance Database. New themes are exciting for countless reasons: novel features, spinoffs of player favorites, and innovative math models. With performance data, we validate which new core video themes and associated features are resonating with players (core = for-sale).
Hold-and-Spin on the Decline for New Core Games?
The popular mechanic, revolutionized by Aristocrat’s Lightning Link, is decreasing as a share of our top new core video themes. At the beginning of the year, 40 percent of these top titles utilized this feature (see Figure 1). Now it’s at 16 percent. This could mean two things: 1) player appetite for Hold-and-Spin is on the decline or 2) suppliers are focusing on other features in game design.
By examining the Eilers & Krejcik report, player appetite for Hold-and-Spin is most certainly not on the decline. We see new Premium Hold-and-Spin link games, such as the newest Dragon Link variants, Dragon Link – Golden Gong and Dragon Link – Silk Road, hit #1 and #2 on the new Premium Leased games on the Eilers & Krejcik performance report.
Other Hold-and-Spin games like Ultimate Fire Link and Ultra Hot Mega Link are still going strong and show up in our top ranks every month. We are left to assume that these titles are hard to imitate as a core game so top premium games on Eilers & Krejcik reports should be considered for lease as they seldom have comparable substitutes.
True Persistence Games = Flavor of the Month or Here to Stay?
One of the first items a slot industry professional learns is the following slot revenue formula: Slot Revenue = Average Bet * Hold Percent * Games Played
True Persistence games aim to augment the last coefficient. As the player wagers on a True Persistent style game, they accrue equity on the screen. The player will stay on the game to collect dividends from their historical play. For example, with AGS’ Captain Riches, players collect gold coins on reels to unlock generous wild multiplier reels. If a player is close to unlocking their reward, it is unlikely they’ll abandon their investment. At the beginning of the year, 28 percent of top themes had this property and it reached almost 50 percent in July 2021 (see Figure 1). It’s now at 32 percent.
Suppliers need to find the right balance with True Persistence games because if a game can result in excessive advantage play, it may hurt the overall experience for other customers. More specifically, players fluent with game play of these themes may balk play if a machine has insufficient equity generated when the machine is visited. In this sense, it could be advantageous for suppliers to develop True Persistence games like Scientific Games’ Cash Falls where the game cycles are shorter.
Theoretically, this would discourage players from skipping over games that are at the start of a new persistence cycle. On the other hand, we see continued success from game with longer True Persistence cycles such as IGT’s Regal Riches, a game in which players chase Progressive Wilds.
Referencing the segment for top low denom core video games which includes both new and old games can give us a better sense of longevity for these types of game. In the December Game Performance report, only one of the top 25 games in this list use True Persistence (down from two at the beginning of the year). Nevertheless, there are still an ample menu of strong True Persistence titles options that can reliably deliver 1.5x vs House even if the group isn’t largely represented in the top 25 list.
Trends to Watch for in 2022 … Perceived Persistence?
Operators and suppliers should watch out for player demand for Perceived Persistence games as new games are introduced to market. Perceived Persistence can take many forms such as triggering a Jackpot Pick Award or bonus feature. Typically, three symbols are required to trigger a bonus. These new games require just one symbol. The players perception (hence ‘Perceived Persistence’) is that the feature is easier to trigger because they only need one symbol.
The #1 new core video reel was Aristocrat’s Bao Zhu Zhao Fu Red Festival which uses Perceived Persistence. Players chase a fireworks meter above that triggers a Hold-and-Spin game with a second reel matrix, additional spins, and credit upgrades. We also see IGT successfully deploy this feature in Queenie where a lone heart symbol can trigger a Wheel bonus.
This feature is used in other unique ways such as AGS’ Rakin Bacon where the golden pig on the screen grows larger and larger as time goes on without a Jackpot feature. The portly pig is an indicator, visible even to those across the slot floor, that a lucrative prize is just a spin away.
A whopping 60 percent of top new core video use Perceived Persistence somewhere in the game whether it be a bonus feature or a jackpot feature (see Figure 1). 36 percent of the games on low denom core video list (which includes older games) have this feature suggesting robustness.
Suppliers continue to develop an ever-growing variety of slot games that combines popular mechanics for all types of players. Hold-and-Spin, True Persistence, and Perceive Persistence are just three qualities out of countless methods to generate a popular game. We will continue to monitor these motifs into 2022 to see if they stick.
This essay was produced using data from the Eilers-Fantini Game Performance Database. Premium subscribers also get access to our Game Attributes Dashboard. Please reach out to Brendan Moore at email@example.com for more information or a virtual demonstration.
Figure 1: Percentage of Top New Core Video Themes on Eilers & Krejcik Game Performance Report with Select Feature
Source: EILERS-FANTINI Game Performance Database