Interview: Playson and the path to success

6th June 2023 9:30 am GMT

Following the recent release of Buffalo Power 2: Hold and Win, Gaming Intelligence speaks to Playson chief operating officer Vsevolod Lapin about what makes a successful slot game and what players can expect from the sequel to one of its most popular slots.

Having launched in 2012, Playson has gone from a Malta-based start-up to one of the industry’s most recognized suppliers, with a portfolio of over 85 omni-channel casino games now available in 22 regulated jurisdictions around the world.

This growth has been driven by games such as Buffalo Power: Hold and Win, which was released in 2020 and has quickly become a major game changer for the company.

“It is one of our most valuable games and a very important part of our portfolio because we can see that these mechanics are very exciting and popular with the players,” explains Lapin, who has been with Playson since October 2017. “Hold and Win is a very big trend in the online gaming market, and we want to be one of the leaders in this trend.

“We believe our games are quite popular because they are clean and crisp, with a very clear focus on the bonus game, so the game feels very well balanced. Pay-outs are fair, the frequencies are maintained to fit into the mobile game session, and also on the back-end we ensure that all of our Hold and Wins are very snappy and play very smoothly.”

Lapin believes that since the release of the first Buffalo Power game, Playson has greatly evolved as a gaming supplier.

“Since its launch in the market in the last three years, it is now clear that we are also in a very different position as a company,” he says. “We now have more leverage and more coverage from regulated markets. We also have more experience - we know how to get the details right.”

The follow up title, Buffalo Power 2: Hold and Win, was released last month, and Playson fully expects it to be another hit.

“It’s a pretty high bar to beat but with all the new knowledge and new capabilities we have built in the last three years, we are in a great position, so we believe it will be more successful than its predecessor,” continues Lapin.

While the mechanics of the original game remain the same, the sequel does have some upgrades.

“The free spins have quite interesting mechanics with growing multiplayers, so they are much more volatile and much more exciting, and of course they come with bigger jackpots,” says Lapin.

The new title has a x5000 jackpot, while the first game only had x1000. Other tweaks include the collector feature, which collects the bonus symbols that can trigger the bonus games at random for the player.

There are small changes to the timings as well, the game is snappier and all in all the quality and production of the game is much higher than the first one,” adds Lapin.

Key to a successful slot

Much like its predecessor, the new release will also be simple to use, which Lapin believes is key to a successful slot.

“What makes a game popular is the ease in understanding what the game has to offer, and how intuitive it is,” said Lapin. “Basically, the innovations must be so limited that players can understand the win potential immediately, they don’t need a tutorial to understand how the game plays.

“Other factors such as mechanics and attention to detail are also significant factors in a game’s success. When we design a slot game, we look at what the game can offer in terms of volatility, the pay-outs and the mechanics, and of course the smoothness of the game are all very important factors, because the game can be exciting, but the spin time can be too long, or they can be lax or have technical issues,” he says.

Meanwhile, bringing a sense of nostalgia is also important.

“While games must offer something new it must also be familiar at the same time because slots are also about finding something that players are accustomed to. We have found our games are popular in markets that prefer simplicity rather than more sophisticated games.

“Our older titles such as Solar Queen, which we released back in 2019, is still one of the top titles for us, as is Royal Coins 2, which is off the charts for us."

Lapin claims that in addition to simplicity, the “charisma” of the game is very significant, as is the general combination of the theme and mechanics, which are gearing towards faster loading times.

“Games will become more accessible; they will be at the fingertips,” he says. “Faster, clean math, good math and of course there will be some varieties where we can see a lot more innovation around bonus modes.

“Jackpots will also increase. But for the mass audience it will be about accessibility and the real excitement and simplicity of the game.”

Playson is eager to implement the latter as the supplier prepares for a busy year ahead.

“We are aiming to release around 20 games this year, so we are nearly doubling our games, a huge step up versus the previous year, which was quite a challenging one for us,” says Lapin.

In addition to its portfolio of Hold and Win games, Playson will also focus on Scatter Pays and Match 5 titles, which Lapin describes as an “interesting niche for quite a different audience”.

 “So, we will have a few releases up our sleeves in that area, one of them will be a sequel to the very much renowned Crystal Land game, which we released in 2018,” reveals Lapin.

Expanding across European markets remains a big focus for the supplier this year.

“We feel there’s room for growth in Europe both in quantity and quality, so we want to grow in Europe predominantly because it is our home ground,” Lapin continues. “Our biggest markets are the regulated markets of Europe such as Italy and Greece.

“We have also had quite a successful entry into the Netherlands and in Switzerland this year, while Portugal is becoming more and more important.”

Across the pond, Canada has also been added to the supplier’s regulated markets portfolio after its launch in Ontario last September, which Lapin says is “quite an interesting market and not as saturated.”

South of the border, Playson’s plan to enter the United States is being put on the backburner for the foreseeable future as “it is not a priority right now”.

We are excited for this year,” Lapin concludes. “This year is ambitious for us, and we are looking for a lot of growth in terms of new markets and some exciting new games.”

Eleven years after its emergence, Playson’s growth momentum shows no sign of abating.