We sat down with Robert Lee, Commercial Director of Realistic Games to discuss a busy year, recent collaborations, the exciting release of the Game Changer series, and what we can expect next from Realistic after 18 years in the industry.
Hi Robert, thanks for speaking with us. Can you give us a bit of background about your role at Realistic and your time at the company?
You could say that I wear many hats! I joined Realistic Games in 2017 as Commercial Director, driving growth of both the product and client portfolios. It’s my job to make sure that our fantastic games are available to as many players as possible, but as a slot player myself, it’s great to get stuck into the content roadmap too.
It’s been quite the year, especially with the launch of your Game Changer slot, which features an exciting mechanic of the same name. Can you give us a bit of background on the development of the game and mechanic, and why it’s been so popular?
The idea had been floating around for a while, but it was really towards the end of 2019 that we fired the starting gun on development. The concept is simple: players move around a squared boardgame by rolling random dice, collecting prizes until the round comes to an end. This simplicity is what makes the feature so transferable.
With each adaption, we’ve played around with the math model and reward structure to keep it fresh but retained the intuitive and nostalgic elements that have made the concept so popular. When the dice are rolling in your favour and the winnings are rising, the excitement factor is hard to match!
Which slot from the Game Changer Series has been the most popular?
The title that started it all, which is also called Game Changer, was a standout hit that quickly earned a spot in the Realistic hall of fame. With any franchise, it’s often difficult to match the success of the original, but each release in the series has attracted a wide audience as players know they’re in for an entertaining experience with the Game Changer trademark.
The most recent addition, Super Graphics Game Changer, has rivalled the popularity of the original, combining the theme of another fan-favourite Realistic series – Super Graphics – with the Game Changer feature, making for the perfect marriage of ideas.
Do you have a personal favourite?
Super Graphics! I was already a fan of the original series, with Super Graphics Upside Down ranking as one of my all-time favourites, and the addition of the Game Changer concept takes the experience to a whole new level. The way the team have incorporated Wilds into the bonus round is an entirely unique approach that keeps pulses racing.
The winning potential is also a big selling point. Within its first week of release, one lucky player claimed the maximum prize of £20,000 from just a 20p stake, and it’s continued to reward well delivering impressive amounts to players ever since.
Part of your Game Changer Series includes a remake of the 3-reel slot BAR-X™ and Super BAR-X™, in collaboration with the makers of the original land-based slot Electrocoin. How did this relationship come to be?
Many of the Realistic team are old-school slot players and have fond memories of playing Bar-X™ and Super Bar-X™ machines in arcades and bingo halls back when online gaming was a pipe dream.
Together with the Electrocoin team, we wanted to make sure that these iconic games would live on in the digital era and could be enjoyed by online players for years to come. The brands have such longevity that they continue to attract new audiences almost four decades after they were first released and we’re proud to be a part of the journey.
Were there any challenges in developing such an iconic slot for online use in 2020?
It certainly wasn’t a straightforward process. In terms of the mechanics, there was no point in changing what made the original titles so successful, instead focusing on finetuning the details to recreate the original excitement.
The development team had to make sure our online versions mirrored the key elements of the land-based games exactly. That included the replication of the original glass, the sounds, and all of the features that land-based players enjoy. We even perfected the attract mode that plays when the game isn’t active for a period of time and used the original reel bands (which we bought on eBay!).
Super Graphics Game Changer has gained great traction since it’s release and even saw someone win the top payout of 100,000x which is a record for Realistic. Was that a proud moment?
Absolutely – especially as it was the highest ever multiplier win on a Realistic game! We create slot games to entertain people and bring them excitement, so when players win incredible prizes like this through one of our creations it gives you a little lift. We all hope the lucky winner enjoys the reward.
Can we expect the Game Changer mechanic to be integrated into more classic games?
There’s so much potential with the feature that we’ve created a strong roadmap of titles that extends right through to 2021, including both reimagined classics and brand-new concepts.
Its flexibility means we can be really creative in the application and it’s exciting to see the collection grow with even more innovative – or even Game Changing – additions.
Has it been challenging adapting to the changes Covid-19 has brought?
The first few weeks were difficult for almost every business, but we are now fully in the swing of a new normal. Luckily for Realistic, we had agility on our side. Not having face to face contact took some getting used to, but to give credit to the whole team, we quickly transitioned to a new working environment whilst maintaining a first-rate service for our clients.
Do you think it will bring permanent repercussions to the iGaming industry?
Perhaps, but since we’re still not out the other end just yet, it is still too early to tell. In comparison to sports betting and retail, the online casino sector managed to escape a significant blow and, in some cases, even experienced growth.
The industry will no doubt bounce back eventually, providing that we continue to advance the experience offered to players across all verticals and learn from the challenges 2020 has presented.
What other releases can we expect in 2020?
Realistic’s development team have been busy replicating more of our favourite Electrocoin classics, so expect a few iconic additions to that collection before the year ends.
Our table game portfolio has had a facelift too, with some of the most popular titles in the range converted to HTML5. It’s been a truly extraordinary year, and we’re on track to deliver another stellar roadmap of games in 2021.