We’ve sat down with Jo Purvis from Blueprint Gaming, reflecting back on a hectic start to the year, lockdown life and what’s next in store for Blueprint.
How do you look back on your growth since 2007 and where do you see the industry going during the next decade?
We certainly hold a lot of pride at how far we’ve come since launching our first online video slot back in 2009. We’ve built a quality team full of fantastic people that are passionate about the games we produce, underpinned by our strong management. Our slots are now available to play across the globe via the world’s leading operator groups.
A number of innovative gameplay features that have become the norm in our industry originated from Blueprint titles. Supporting promotional and engagement tools, such as our Jackpot King progressive system, lead the way and are hugely popular with players worldwide.
Our design and development team consisting of slot enthusiasts are determined to play their part in evolving the online casino world and taking Blueprint in new directions. We’ll keep bringing new ideas to the table and taking the gameplay to a new level.
You released two significant titles in May – Legacy of the Gods Megaways and Rhino Rampage. What’s the initial feedback been like, and how are consumers reacting to the new Lightning Spins bonus?
The initial feedback from players regarding our new Lightning Spins™ bonus feature has been very positive. It’s another example of how we’ve evolved the jackpot experience, where one of four in-game progressive jackpots can be claimed during play.
The Lightning Spins™ scatter symbols that appear on the reels during the bonus round awards a cash value and will reset the remaining free spins to three. Revealing the Mini, Major or Mega jackpots from a scatter symbol guarantees a payout, while a full window of Lightning Spin Scatters awards the main jackpot prize.
Players have certainly enjoyed the exciting gameplay this mechanic brings, so we’ll certainly be utilising it more in the future, with a couple of games planned for release featuring Lightning Spins in the coming months.
Much of the digital world has been working from home since governments began introducing lockdowns – how have things changed with the team working remotely?
It’s been a challenge for everyone in our industry, but like so many others we’ve shown our resilience and have continued to deliver a flurry of new games for our operating partners and fanbase. The wellbeing of our employees is of huge importance to us, which is why we launched a home schooling programme to help those with families during the lockdown. Managing a busy workload while also having to care for children who can’t go to school at present can cause a real headache for some. The initiative has been well received by staff members, and features core subjects such as Maths and English, alongside topics that help to build confidence such as drama and dance.
What is Blueprint’s most popular self-developed slot – why has it done so well?
The Goonies™ is the standout performer from our library of games. The slot inspired by the classic film received critical acclaim from both players and the industry for its immersive gameplay that brings the iconic gang back together as they look to unearth the long-lost fortune of One-Eyed Willy. It’s one of our best-performing games over time and still attracts huge interest.
King Kong Cash is another game that excites players, even after four years of being in the market. The loveable, snoozing ape was brought to life again recently after becoming the latest addition to our Jackpot King series.
We’re also proud of the Reel Time Gaming titles that we’ve transitioned from the retail market to the online space. Slots such as Eye of Horus and Fishin’ Frenzy already held a strong fan base across the retail sector, but we’ve now been able to extend their audience reach to online players and their simplicity has been very well received.
You’ve worked on a number of IP themed hit slots, such as Rick and Morty, Beavis and Butt-Head, and Ted. Do you find consumers are more receptive to familiar characters and do you have any exciting IP-themed slots in the works?
We’ve developed some great branded games in our history. Rick and Morty™ broke Blueprint records to become our most successful game launch ever, while The Goonies™ received industry recognition for its high-quality gameplay. A well-known brand certainly helps to drive interest in the new slot before it’s even launched, as you’re capturing the interest of both seasoned slot players and the fanbase of the brand itself.
What many people may not appreciate is the hard work that goes into developing a licensed slot. Every single aspect of the game’s development must adhere to the licence holder’s strict guidelines, which makes for a different approach compared to the creation of own slot. Given our reputation for building quality branded games that appeal to a wide audience, licence holders actually approach us now, knowing that we have the experience of bringing their IP to life in the casino world.
Which 2020 release has seen the most traction so far and why do you think that is?
Although Eye of Horus and Fishin’ Frenzy were originally released in 2018, the extended family tree of these titles still affords a huge following in the slots world, which keeps them right at the top of our popularity charts.
This is a trend which we intend to continue with some exciting plans for the future, Including the recently released Megaways versions of Eye of Horus and a brand-new ‘Gamblers’ version of both which will be hitting sites in the coming month. We’ll also be adding Eye of Horus to the Jackpot King suite.
Do you have a personal favourite from the Blueprint catalogue?
It’s difficult to choose a single title as so many have made a huge impact over the years in many different ways, whether they are great performers or opened a new route to market for Blueprint.
From launching Viz over a decade ago, at no point have we ever rested on our laurels, keeping our production and quality high, releasing fresh new ideas into the market, but always keep a tongue-in-cheek approach which our loyal players enjoy.
If I had to pick one game, it would have to be ted™. Our development team did a superb job in transitioning the humorous character for the slots market. The feedback from operators and players to the release was overwhelmingly positive, so the news that we are adding ted™ to Megaways™ has come with great excitement from all parties.
How does your team work together to roll a new title out, from ideation to rolling them out to players?
The team here at Blueprint absolutely love playing online slots, so we’re never short of new ideas on how we can bring innovative concepts to market. Many have experience from both the online and retail space, which means we’re capable of delivering a variety of market leading games featuring different themes and mechanics.
We’ll never stop pushing the boundaries in slot provision. Our design and development team constantly keep up to date of the latest trends in the market and know which features will resonate with a large segment of players.
As an industry, we have an obligation to protect vulnerable players, particularly during times of uncertainty – what steps do you take when it comes to responsible gambling?
We take responsible gambling very seriously and work closely with our operating partners to ensure that players experience our titles in a safe and secure environment.
Blueprint works very closely with the UK Gambling Commission around the design of innovative features, listening to their feedback from a compliance perspective before they are released to market. As required by law, all games go through compliance testing at designated labs to ensure every game meets the exacting standards set.
Do UK consumers have any unique preferences in slot games compared to other markets? Are there any mechanics or themes that are a smash hit in a particular geographical region?
Some of our games have been produced and tailored for a specific market, such as our Pub Fruit Series which is very UK-focused. These slots are inspired by the traditional fruit machine format from the land-based market in the UK, which don’t necessarily work in other territories.
Deal or No Deal, which is a hugely recognisable brand and format for the UK player is probably as close to a ‘banker’ for success as you can get for the UK market. It has history in the UK gambling environment, from being a populate brand in the retail market for many years, to today where we’ve used it on a number of top-rated titles across various slot formats.
No game is guaranteed to be a smash hit in any market, It all boils down to how the final game is developed and whether it resonates with players.
What does the rest of the year hold in store for Blueprint?
It’s sure to be a busy end to the year with lots of new games planned for release over the coming months. We’ve got a few more additions to our Megaways™ portfolio that I’m sure Blueprint fans will love. We’re also breathing new life into our classic hit Wish Upon a Jackpot, which will benefit from the inclusion of Megaways™ for the first time.
One of the most intriguing releases will be the return of our famous Genie. He’s gained a few pounds during lockdown, but this hasn’t detracted from his magic and we cannot wait to unveil Genie Jackpots Wishmaker to the gaming public.