Hannah Farrugia, AvatarUX: game creation is not an ‘a la carte’ menu to pick and choose from
CasinoBeats talks to Hannah Farrugia, Head of Product & Product Strategy at AvatarUX, to find out more about the supplier’s mechanics, and the inspiration behind the development of the ‘Pop’ family of features.
CB:For those that might not know, can you walk us through the key differences between your PopWins and MultiPop mechanics?
HF: PopWins was our first milestone mechanic, and integrated it into our games, the spin sequence and reel potential is instantly enhanced – ultimately giving players an even better gaming experience.
Every time a player spins a winning combination, the symbol ‘pop’ is replaced by two new symbols, while expanding the reel – offering the potential for another win. The PopWins sequence provides great potential, since the feature continues to roll if the pops keep creating new wins.
MultiPop follows a similar route in that winning symbols pop and are replaced, but rather than two new symbols replacing it, only one does – but this one comes attached with a multiplier. If the replacement symbol is also part of a winning combination, then the multiplier increases again by +1x. The more pops, the higher the multiplier.
By introducing MultiPop, we have successfully evolved a mechanic that has been proven extremely popular with players around the globe and taken it to a new level, ensuring we stay relevant in what is a hyper-competitive industry.
CB: What would you say are the key challenges in ensuring your mechanics stand up against those such as Megaways?
HF: Game development isn’t about challenging established mechanics or similarly copying the entire thing, it’s about studios carving their own paths to deliver great games to players. Some of the best studios in the industry have done just that, and have found success that not only pushed themselves forward, but inspired others to innovate too.
We’ve found huge success with our PopWins mechanic because it offers a different experience to what existed in the market. We pride ourselves on innovation, and the mechanic marries well with our unique art style and gameplay. We’ve looked to add a new element via MultiPop, which takes the pop element and adds a new twist.
If suppliers spent their entire time looking to compete with Megaways and the like, we would stand still as a sector. It is such an exciting, forward-looking industry, and competition and differentiation are what allow the entire gaming community to advance.
CB: How do you take a mechanic from a simple feature within an overall game to a staple within your wider game portfolio?
HF: It depends how well received it is. There’s no point putting all your eggs in one basket if the mechanic flops – which occasionally happens, of course. However, once a mechanic has been established within the industry, its use can be explored further.
It also depends on how flexible the mechanic is. PopWins™, for example, can be complemented by so many features – it just works well, and you can design different games with this mechanic that deliver a completely different experience.
All mechanics have started this way, it must be proven repeatedly, with different demographics, themes, features and maths models before it can establish itself in the industry as one that’s widely respected and enjoyed. We’re well on our journey through this process with PopWins, and it’s something that fills us with pride as we see how far we have come.
CB: When coming up with new titles, is the game creation process influenced by your pre-existing mechanics? Or do you create the games and tweak the mechanic to fit with the title?
HF: Game creation is a fluid process, but one that requires all elements to work in harmony. However, we know what is required to build a framework that can fit PopWins or MultiPop into it and have outlined at the start if a game will include the mechanic or not.
However, it’s not an a la carte menu when it comes to game creation – all elements need to be carefully planned in advance to ensure that a seamless product is launched. Sound, characters, maths, and other visual elements all need to work in tandem, as well as any additional features and mechanics, to create a game that players will want to play.
CB: What can we expect to see in the AvatarUX roadmap over the next few months?
HF: In short, plenty of excitement! We don’t want to give everything away, but we’ve got a trip to an ancient civilisation to undertake before 2022 is out, and then we’ll see plenty of PopWins products rolled out in 2023 – including some new mechanics and features never seen before in our games.
We’ll also see our partnership with Light & Wonder really start to establish itself, producing proprietary games and also seeing our footprint expand significantly in major markets through the OpenGaming aggregation platform. It is another landmark deal for us, alongside our YG Masters commitments with Yggdrasil, as we look to further push ourselves to new heights.
Finally, ICE is also very much round the corner, so we can’t wait to meet up with friends and the wider industry in London shortly!