Exclusive Interview with Quickspin
“If you play those three games, you’d take a pretty good journey from where Quickspin began and where we are today.”
Today I’m excited to feature a kick-ass Swedish games developer, Quickspin.
But not in a new slot review — as my honoured guest in the exclusive Mvideoslots.com interview series.
In these casual yet thought-provoking conversations I go about asking iGaming studios interesting questions about their products, the thinking and planning that goes into making great games, and other fun facts that help break the ice between casino players and developers.
Whether you’re a seasoned player or a casual gambler alike, you’re bound to find something that you wouldn’t normally find in a regular news report.
So, grab a drink, relax and join me for an exciting behind-the-scenes interview with Erik Gullstrand, leading Chief Product Officer at Quickspin.
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Quickspin is well-known for popular video slots, like Big Bad Wolf and Sakura Fortune. What it takes to create world-class games like this? Could you shed some light on some interesting facts that most players or critics are unaware of?
One thing I don’t think most players and critics are aware of, is just how much time we’re spending on trying out different types of game mechanics, to figure out what kind of mechanical elements we should work with in our games.
For instance, we spend a lot of time on different kinds of Wilds and their various attributes, but also on the reel strips and how they’re created, and how the symbols are positioned in relation to the other symbols on the reels strips that are rolling past. The one thing that we’re focusing on when we’re doing all of this, is always: what kind of player are we creating this game for? Is it someone who wants to win a lot of money, or is it someone who’s just looking for some entertainment? Depending on the intended player, we would design the games very differently.
It also varies depending on which market the game is intended for. Is it a broader game, aimed at all markets, or is it a more niched game, aimed at a very specific market? It’s like in the movie industry, where they have their blockbusters that are intended for a huge audience, and then they have their smaller art house films that are aimed at a specific market and target audience. It’s the same way in the slot industry.
Could you explain a casual gambler in layman’s terms, how to tell apart a quality video slot from a poorly made game?
I would say that a casual player is someone who’s looking for a fun gaming experience first and foremost. The driving force isn’t to win big, or to have a life-changing experience – they’re just killing time and having fun. A casual player might just as well do something else to entertain themselves, like watch Netflix. A high roller on the other hand is looking for a big win, and they’re driven by other things.
Traditionally, Quickspin has always targeted casual players. But in the last few years the whole industry has pivoted towards players who like high volatility and big wins, so we’ve followed that development as well.
When it comes to telling apart a high-quality slot from a bad quality slot, our answer would be that it’s difficult to understand when you’re winning in a poorly designed one. In a well-designed slot, everything is intuitive and it’s easy to understand what you should want to chase in the game. In a poorly designed slot, the symbols look really similar to one another and it tends to be difficult to understand what you’re supposed to want, what kind of scenario you should be aiming for.
You have your first jackpot game coming out in June this year. Could you tell us a little more what players can expect in anticipation of this monumental release?
Yes, this is a very exciting release for us! It’s still under construction though, so I’m afraid I can’t go into much detail right now. What I can say is that it will be a feature-packed slot and that the graphics and effects will be of the highest quality, as always with Quickspin. There will also be a clear differentiation between the symbols, and a very intense jackpot feature.
Speaking of new games, you’ve recently revamped your offering with your most complex game to date: Dwarfs Gone Wild. With this in mind, do you see any major changes or trends in the video slots design as a whole in the coming years?
I think that the change we’re seeing right now, with more and more games being released all the time, is that it’s putting more pressure on the games to be even more clear about what the player is meant to accomplish in the game. And in general, this is contributing to a trend towards simpler game mechanics and a clearer design.
This means that we’re seeing fewer and fewer complex games with greater depth, as those kinds of games require a much greater marketing effort from the casinos. It takes a lot more work, and money, for them to market those games in a way that makes a large enough number of players understand the creative depth that’s been invested in the game. So that change, I think it’s something we’re already seeing.
As a result of all of this, the games are becoming more and more alike, and they’re getting simpler in their design as well. It’s getting harder to differentiate yourself, which puts more pressure on the design of the game mechanics. You need to come up with something that’s completely new and interesting whilst at the same time being intuitive and easy to understand.
I think we’re going to see a lot more attempts at designing new game mechanics, but not that many successful ones. With that being said, our attitude is that we’re going to keep creating a certain number of games each year, where we’re trying different things. But we’ll also mix this up with more traditional slot games, which we still think offer the most value for players.
Speaking of game trends, you also seem to be investing heavily into gamification features and game add-ons, like Tournaments, Challenges and Achievements. Could you tell us a little more about the player benefits of this customer retention tool that you have going as part of Quickspin Promote?
I would say that the benefit for the player is that you get an incentive to explore most of the Quickspin universe and all our features. And you’ll also, just like when you play a free-to-play game, be led in, and you’ll get a deeper and greater experience of all the things we create.
You’ve recently boosted your portfolio with high-variance online slots, like Tiger’s Glory, which also means that the jackpots have never been as high as they are now. What’s the biggest or most memorable win you know that someone triggered on a Quickspin game?
We’re not allowed to play the games ourselves as it’s against the existing licensing rules, but we’ve seen players win a lot of money on our games. The biggest wins we’ve seen has been in the range of hundreds of thousands of euros.
You’ve had an amazing run as an independent company since 2011. As many may know, in March 2016, Quickspin was acquired by Playtech, a publicly-listed iGaming giant. What’s the one thing that you’ve learned from them, or that you’ve taught them, which has had the biggest impact on the creation of games?
I would say that we’re still operating very independently of Playtech. We tend to meet up a few times a year at different conferences to exchange ideas. And of course, we share knowledge with each other about different markets, trends we’re seeing in the video slot industry, and similar things. But other than that, we’ve always operated extremely independently from Playtech.
🌮 Note: How cosy is Quickspin’s office? Take a quick tour in the YouTube video below:
Finally, to wrap it up, if you were new to slots and had €100 but you’ve never played Quickspin slots, where would you start or what games would you choose to play?
Good question! I would start with some of the classic Quickspin slots, to kind of understand how we’re thinking and what’s important to us, because we’re players ourselves and we love to play games.
I would definitely start with Big Bad Wolf, which is an evergreen game that’s still one of our best-performing slots to this day. Then I would try some of our more recent games. Maybe Northern Sky, which is in many ways a new development along the same thinking, but in a completely new shape and form. And finally, I would probably go for Eastern Emeralds, a slot that’s still very much up to par with what’s expected from casinos today, including the win potential.
If you play those three games, you’d take a pretty good journey from where Quickspin began and where we are today.
Hope you gained some interesting insights from this conversation. Be sure to read my Quickspin slot reviews for more in-depth info on their bonuses and features.
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