Design Works Gaming (DWG) UK chief executive officer Andy Harris urges us to ignore fancy graphics and focus on math models.

There has been a lot of discussion in the industry lately about the improvements being made to games and the direction in which it should go. After nearly 25 years in the industry, I hope I have a pretty good understanding of the crucial elements required to make successful slot games. Luckily, Design Works Gaming (DWG) sides with me on the most important of all: that it’s the mathematical model which truly drives the game.

Looking back at the industry’s top-performers over many years, it is hard to find even one slot that has succeeded due to its amazing 3D graphics and animations. Time after time it has been the games with the best math models that top the rankings.

People will argue that these older games are popular simply because they were around when there wasn’t so much competition, or because the capability to produce Pixar-like ‘productions’ didn’t exist then. You only have to look at the majority of more recent successes in the industry to see this simply isn’t the case. The games that bring players back time and again are those that feature the most engaging math models.

In recent times, the significant move towards mobile has accentuated the importance of math models. Although the capacity and capability of these devices continues to improve, they still can’t process games filled with 3D graphics and lots of animations effectively and still maintain an acceptable player experience. That is even more pertinent in certain emerging markets, where the most popular mobile devices are less advanced. Therefore, the onus should never be on these front-end elements of the game alone.

Using my children as a reliable barometer, I watch them initiate and consume media at such an alarming rate, with any delay in consumption resulting in instant shut down. As generation Z become adults, game loading speeds and a game’s capability of gaining and holding a player’s attention will only increase in importance.

My belief in the significance of a game’s math is what drew me to DWG. The company has a massive focus on building compelling models and a huge hunger and appetite to use their data to ensure they are continuously improving them. They’ve made a strategic decision to make sure they benefit from the data they collect in ways others don’t.

In the land-based arena, DWG spent time using that data to refine and innovate its models and make them more engaging. They then leveraged their position as an operator of social casinos, utilising large volumes of player data and behaviours, to help inform new math models and test hypotheses. This has allowed them to deliver continual improvement to the commercial performance of the content.

Furthermore, they introduced a simple yet effective way of validating models. DWG uses a proprietary algorithm, which considers a number of key indicators and other factors, to measure the success of a game. The strongest performing models are then packaged up with alternative front ends and located in different areas of their five social casinos, to test the strength of the math. The results, with very few exceptions, show that games with the best performing models will always deliver great results despite their presentation. This hasn’t changed for all the time that DWG has been in operation.

This data driven approach to creating, improving and validating math models has enabled DWG to create an immense catalogue of proven games. They are all derived from a complex process built up over many years. The emphasis is always on the mathematical model first, as we know that is the most critical part of a player deciding to come back.

It is probably the case that RMG operators are taken in by too many wolves in sheep’s clothing. The risk they take in licensing untested, overly-animated games is unnecessary. The core of the casino industry, since the beginning of time, has always been rooted in numbers. The more time spent on generating and improving math models, the better games will be, leading to happy players and operators.