Promoted feature: Staying fresh – the evolution of mechanics

CEO Nicola Longmuir discusses why its award-winning PopWins™ mechanic put AvatarUX Studios firmly on the igaming map and reveals plans for the flagship brand

As an industry, igaming often likes to discuss itself through the prism of innovation and cutting-edge thought leaders. We have a space that is filled with hundreds of suppliers, from tiny studios to global behemoths, all looking to be the next development house to create something truly spectacular that sets the world alight.

This leads to a cat-and-mouse style game from many suppliers where, afraid of missing the jump for the ‘next big thing’, titles follow similar themes or mechanics to ensure that while nothing is a copy, there is a definite feel of similarity across the industry.

When an innovation does break ground, many swiftly look to incorporate it into their roadmap. There are plenty of examples we can mention, with Megaways™ by Big Time Gaming, Slingo™ by Gaming Realms and Gigablox™ by Yggdrasil among the most popular. When launched, the ‘Slingo™’ genre, for instance, introduced an unprecedented combination of slots and bingo mechanics. Such innovative mechanics, together with IP, are definite growth factors, as they help increase followers and retain players. Go on many major operator sites now and you’ll be able to search for games with such mechanics, sometimes even find a dedicated tab or subsection on its own.

These are some popular examples of innovation wowing the industry, but the igaming space has a plethora of them in all verticals.

Standing out through true innovation

As a new studio, finding a way to stand out in the early stages is vital. This can be bold marketing tactics, creative commercial packages, or spectacular products. Aside from a fun-filled graphic style, AvatarUX’s games are instantly recognisable thanks to our PopWins™ mechanic.

In basic terms, the mechanic will see winning combinations ‘pop’, before two new symbols take their place on screen, expanding the reel height by 1x. This can be further expanded with new symbols cascading down the reels, and further adding the potential of a new pop, for bigger wins. Reels can continue to expand until they reach a set max height, with significantly increased ways to win and win potential adding to the excitement.

PopWins™ has become a core competitive advantage for us and we have also given trademark rights to another provider through a licensing agreement. As with other popular mechanics on the market, we truly believe PopWins™ has a lot to offer operators and players alike and we have decided to share this fun, full of potential mechanic, with other studios. Its simplicity makes it suitable for any game, and we are focusing on expanding this type of licensing further, not only due to its popularity among players, but also because associating the mechanics to other game suppliers and their titles allows further reach and increased brand awareness in new and existing markets and territories.

From the first PopWins™ game, PopRocks™, right through to our latest instalment, MonkeyPop™, we have continually added to and refined the mechanic. It isn’t enough to just plug in a mechanic and expect players to continuously enjoy it purely because it contains PopWins™, or jackpots, or pays both ways, etc. Players can quickly shift their appetites, especially in such a competitive industry.

What we do is listen to player feedback, explore data and listen to our own intuition to see where we can take PopWins™ with each new iteration or added new features. From adding multipliers to expanding reel heights or increasing max win potential, there is so much that can be added to each game.

Keeping things fresh

While we are immensely proud of the PopWins™ mechanic, it is something we are looking to build on, always. The most recent example of the improved mechanic is in Lollipop™, which includes a hybrid free spins/respins bonus round incorporating PopWins™ – something that is truly unmatched in the industry.

Every winning spin will reward players with more lives or taller reels, with one of just two symbols able to land during free spins – Scatters and Hearts. A Scatter symbol, which can take the form of a variety of different Lollipops, will expand the reel by 1x, while also giving a cash value, while Hearts will award an additional life or two. If Lollipop symbols match, they are upgraded to a higher tier, further increasing their value.

The unique round has seen Lollipop™ swiftly establish itself as yet another key release, with its launch seeing an increase in both unique users and bets.

Adapting the content but staying true to the brand

As with all innovations, they can become stale over time. It is imperative that developers look to refine, add and adapt content to meet player demands, as well as satisfying regulatory restrictions.

Our growing roadmap means we have the perfect opportunity to diversify the PopWins™ offering, and Q4 will see the introduction of Multipop™. Nominally similar to the PopWins™ mechanic, winning symbols in any combination will be replaced by one symbol, rather than two, but this fresh icon will have a multiplier attached. This can happen again and again, as long as wins are possible, so a mammoth multiplier can occur for gigantic wins.

This is an addition to our plans, plans that we’re extremely proud of, and will give different experiences to players without straying from our popular games and delivering something completely alien.

Our core mission will always be to deliver innovative, exciting, quality content to players, and through proven, dynamic mechanics we’re able to do this. As a small studio, developing world-class products such as our PopWins™ series has allowed us to stand out, and now we can’t wait to see where we can take it.

Nicola Longmuir is the CEO of award-winning AvatarUX Studios. With over 15 years of experience in the igaming industry, gained from pivotal roles with Sky Betting & Gaming, Betfair, Ladbrokes Coral, Gaming Realms and more recently Push Gaming, she plays a crucial role in expanding AvatarUX’s growth and accelerating its product strategy.

AvatarUX | Graphics | Mechanic | Strategy