Bridging the Digital Divide
Robert Lee of Realistic Games, and Gabino Stergides of Electrocoin, explain how the casino content developer is recreating Electrocoin’s land-based AWPs for the online gaming sector.
How did the partnership come about?
Gabino Stergides: Realistic’s founders have been big fans of Electrocoin games over the years and we’ve watched quietly from afar as they’ve made a name for themselves in the industry with great games like Hot Cross Bunnies and the recent Game Changer series. We’ve always been impressed with their originality and style, qualities which shine through with the Game Changer concept. It brings the fun back into bonus rounds and in my view is a bigger and better slot innovation than even Megaways.
It also helps that we have a lot in common, making it a natural partnership to pursue. Both our companies are based in the UK and know the market inside out. We agreed that it was about time the online slot environment offered some arcade fun and Realistic are the perfect team to make it happen.
Whilst Realistic Games has a sound understanding of what makes online gamers tick, how do you select which land-based games will appeal to your players?
Robert Lee: Realistic Games has always had an affinity with the traditional UK arcades and casino floors of days gone by, so we know a timeless game when we see one. Electrocoin’s Bar-X, Super Bar-X, Big 7, Magic 7, Magic 10 and Bar-X 7even are such iconic titles in the land-based space that they will continue to attract fans in the online world. After talking with Gabino, we decided very early on into the relationship that as a minimum we would take each of these famous land-based titles online, but we also saw huge opportunity to further develop the brand that started it all.
The Bar-X catalogue has seen new, modern additions in the form of five-reel slots, as well as some instant win games. Judging by the performance of the four online games under the Bar-X and Super Bar-X brands that we’ve released so far, the Electrocoin classics – and those with a Realistic spin – have a strong online lifetime ahead of them.
Is the partnership part of a drive to keep traditionally land-based players engaged online as casinos re-open?
Gabino Stergides: In part, but it is more a case of the online world being ready to experience the joys of where it all began with AWP machines. We want to provide online audiences with entertainment – or amusement – rather than just the straight gambling slot experience. Since the Bar-X franchise is synonymous with land- based gaming, it was the perfect title to do so. The time was right to convert the games for the online market and to also take the experience to the next level with Realistic’s innovative Game Changer concept. As an idea with incredible potential, we wanted to be the first to back it.
What is the process for converting content online? How are the various assets managed?
Robert Lee: With a lot of skill and precision. The team has worked incredibly hard to ensure that the key elements of the land-based titles have been mirrored exactly in our online versions of the games, from the replication of the exact original glass, the sounds, and all of the features that land-based players enjoy, right down to the attract mode that plays when the game isn’t active for a period of time. But we didn’t stop there either. We even purchased some reel bands from the original machines on eBay to ensure we got the games exactly right.
Gabino Stergides: Certain titles in the Bar-X collection are over 30 years old, so the original assets have had to be expertly recreated. This involved redrawing every element of an old cabinet, including the “haze” on the Reel Glass. Sounds like hard work, but to give credit where its due, the Realistic team have made the process seamless from start to finish.
How do you ensure land-based titles retain the elements and essence of the games that proved popular on the casino floor whilst also appealing to online player preferences?
Gabino Stergides: I can’t give away all the secrets, but what I will say is that it’s a fine balance. Bar-X Game Changer and Super Bar-X Game Changer are both five-reel online style slots designed for online players, but include the traditional sounds, graphics and features that made the original cabinet machines so popular. We wanted to capture an element of nostalgia with these games but also experience the excitement of the Game Changer bonus round concept, whilst including modern mechanics to appeal to new audiences.
In the traditional three-reel games such as Bar- X and Big 7 players will get to choose the stake to prize ratio just like in the arcades, bingo halls or casinos. The well-loved “hold after a nudge” feature has also been converted, and we’ve even used the original reel bands. Fans of the traditional games will be pleased to see we’ve retained original features in some way, shape or form, and pleasantly surprised by the new spin.
Robert Lee: This was an easy one for the Realistic team. They all grew up playing these games in arcades and bingo halls up and down the country, and probably know them just as well as the creators themselves. One of the reasons we partnered with Electrocoin was because we had the upmost confidence in our ability to replicate the games online. Admittedly, it’s not an easy job, but with the passion, knowledge and experience of our development team, we were more than up to the challenge. I know both Electrocoin and everyone at Realistic is extremely pleased of the results.
Ideally, you don’t change the mechanics of such successful titles otherwise there isn’t much point in taking the games to the online market. What we’ve tried to do – and succeeded in doing – is to replicate the original excitement by perfecting the details of the land-based versions to an absolute tee. As we release most of the catalogue over the coming months, players will see the expert work that has gone into creating the games for the online audience. The more volatile games such as Magic 7, Magic 10 and Bar-X 7even are ones to watch out for.
How do you calculate the success of a converted land-based game? What metrics do you use?
Robert Lee: The metrics for a converted land- based game are no different to us than a normal online game. Player numbers, stake and of course GGR are the all-important metrics that give a holistic view on how well a game has performed and how well it continues to perform after the first six to eight weeks. For those players who have been part of the Electrocoin journey for many years, we’re confident the digital versions won’t disappoint, and we’re proud to be bringing the classics to audiences who have never had the pleasure of experiencing the entertainment of these iconic games before!
Gabino Stergides: Measuring success in the online world is far different to land based. Income can be affected by multiple factors, such as multi-stakes and the number of operators the game is available with. What we can say is that the first Bar-X classic game went online in 2008, and 12 years later it continues to be a consistent strong performer with a strong and loyal fanbase. There aren’t many games or “brands” nowadays that can claim such longstanding success. However, as the original online version was built in Flash, it was time for a reboot.
Now developed with HTML5 framework, we are able to attract the next generation of players who have come online since Bar-X was first converted but haven’t had a chance to experience the Electrocoin suite of games. Bar- X, Big-7, Bar-X 7even and even Labyrinth are all land-based classics that we look forward to bringing to the market in partnership with Realistic Games.