As seen on Gambling Insider
Branded titles will always have a home in the marketplace. They are a great bridge to slots for players who may not have played before, and when well executed, they can really add value to a game.
If incorporated well, a brand can be a great thing but this is not always the case and we often see brands used in lieu of good game design. This is especially problematic in a market where these games often carry an extra fee over standard content and in recent years has put some operators off adopting the games in their portfolios.
If a provider wants to charge a premium for branded content, then the brand should add value to the game. IP deals often come with access to visuals, audio and even video clips which can be used to create feature rich and immersive experiences where a game is specifically designed to incorporate all of the brand’s elements. This does not however guarantee a successful game as the math, features and playability all need to be there and are more important in ensuring the long-term success of the title.
As the US and Canada opens up to online slots, there is a lot of scope for branded content to really find its niche in a market where the land-based space is dominated by a multitude of branded games, featuring game shows, movies, music and more. The trick will be in finding the right IP to take online, executing it well and then ensuring you market and promote the game well with the operators releasing it.
Finding the right IP can be a challenge. For a studio which serves multiple global regions, the best value is from a brand which resonates internationally and can serve all your markets. This howevers can come with high costs and some limitations on its usage as large international brands will always be very protective of their IP. This is not only expensive but can also impact on delivery, with back and forth on legalities, sign off on design and asset use etc. On the other hand, smaller more local deals can give flexibility but offer a more limited space to achieve ROI while adding a significant cost to your game development. It’s a fine balance which can be hard to achieve and a significant factor as to why we don’t see a very high volume of branded games in the current market.
As the markets mature, branded games become less important as players ultimately seek out good mechanics and themes but there will always be room for a well-executed slot based on a strong and popular brand. I think these will occur through opportunistic deals and collaborations as opposed to a defined product strategy.