When we head online or out to a betting shop these days, we are very likely to see slots games with themes from popular culture. Anything from movies and their characters to famous pop stars can apparently be represented by their very own slots game, while wider thematic experiences such as places and times in history are particularly popular with game designers.
The question is: how much more likely am I to choose one of these themed games than a traditional, Liberty Bell-style slot? Why associate a game with a seemingly random theme that appears to add little content to the game itself? Who might themed slots appeal to most?
Let me take you back more than three thousand years to Ancient Egypt. It is early evening and still hot, so the mighty Pharaoh decides he needs to relax in the shade. And what better way to relax than by playing his favourite slot game.
It’s not a very likely narrative. However, while an outsider looking into the world of slots may be confused by an Ancient Egyptian theme for a slot game, the popularity of titles such as Eye of Horus speak for themselves, using themed symbols, card flips and bonus features to keep audiences interested.
These wider historical themes have cropped up as iGaming has developed and grown in popularity. And with the development of the industry have come many rivalries between iGaming companies and software developers. What a theme does provide is a selling point to fans and enthusiasts of that theme through a familiar type of game. In a sophisticated iGaming suite, it can also provide a more immersive slots experience with greater drama and gravitas than watching traditional reels and light-up bonuses. It is the job of top game developers to generate the most engaging version of that same, traditional slots game that we all know and love, rather than to change the playing field entirely.
Same game – Different worlds
We all inhabit our own worlds, and it makes some sense that there should be a slots game that’s right in tune with you, just as we may buy toys based on our favourite superheroes, games of our favourite sports, and clothes that our style icons wear.
This ‘branding’ of slots games gives us a feeling of comfort and familiarity. It is the same reason that slots games without such branding rely on names that are associated with money and winning. You feel that there is a huge opportunity for you if you choose that particular game.
It is safe to say that this is nothing new in a commercial sense. A theme gives more personality to a slots game that will be, in reality, rather simple and straightforward to understand. Fancy hieroglyphs and pots of gold may not help you win more free spins, but they sure make the game look better when you are showing it to your friends. And on that basis, I would always choose a themed slot over a traditional one.