Jackpots have been around since the early days of gambling – the concept of the big win for many is the very essence of the pastime but where does it stand today? Recent developments have seen the daily jackpot rise to prominence, but does this mean a move away from the allure of a life-changing progressive win? We examine where the classic feature currently sits and where it’s headed. Today we sit down with four prominent figures from the industry to discuss jackpot size and whether it (always) matters? Joining us are Habanero head of business development Arcangelo Lonoce, Blueprint Gaming director of key accounts and marketing UK Jo Purvis, Kalamba head of games Andy Sekula, and Realistic Games commercial director Rob Lee.
How much appetite from players in today’s market is there for large progressive jackpots? Has the tide turned toward those favoring daily/hourly draws?
AL: The tide hasn’t necessarily turned towards them across the board, but daily and hourly draws allow for more frequent wins than those available in the larger, progressive jackpots. Those large jackpots have been a feature of the gambling landscape for decades, but winning them is a rarity – a reality that has permeated the psychology of most players.
From an operator’s perspective, daily and hourly jackpots can be easily configured, and marketed in a more sophisticated way than the larger alternatives. Most local regulations mandate that jackpot margins be ring-fenced within the territory, which obviously limits their potential size. That restricts the scope for models which rely on the size of the jackpot.
JP: Despite the increase in the number of daily/hourly jackpot products in the industry, the large progressive prizes are still the pinnacle of jackpots in online casino. The huge sums of money that can be won from a single spin of a progressive jackpot-enabled game will always be very attractive for a large segment of players. Knowing that every spin offers significant win potential keeps them engaged and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
There’s no doubt that daily/hourly jackpot drops serve a purpose, but they simply cannot match the appetite from players for the seven-figure cash sums that the industry’s leading progressive jackpots typically offer. Also, big jackpots are community-built and can’t be achieved solely within a single game via a multiple of your stake win.
AS: The promise of a life-changing win has always been enticing. Just look at the national lotteries around the world and how many people buy a ticket every week in the hope of winning the big pot. On the other hand, more frequent, but not so life-changing amounts are also very attractive, especially the ‘must drop ones’ that guarantees the win within a specified timeframe. There is definitely room for both kinds as they attract different types of players and I believe we will see jackpots remaining in the limelight for some time with even more suppliers introducing their own take on the trend.
RL: I think this question pretty much answers itself, when you take a look around at the large progressives that continue to rise quite rapidly, with the likes of Mega Moolah and Jackpot King in particular. There is also a growing market as we have seen over the years for the must-win progressives. These two different types of progressives enable suppliers to offer something different for various types of players. There will be the player chasing that once in a lifetime progressive that if they hit will probably change their life forever – then there are other players who want the thrill of winning a progressive but want to play for one that is much more winnable – that is where the hourly and daily progressives have and continue to prove popular with players.
Which types of jackpots currently prove more popular in your games and why?
AL: We offer local jackpots and our industry-first Jackpot Race. Both are very popular, but the performance of either one depends on the operator partner in question and how they want to use jackpots – after all, some have no interest in them at all.
Jackpot Race has been enthusiastically welcomed by a wide range of operators, fusing the logic of a poker-style pot with a must-drop solution that can be configured at the backend by partners. It’s different from a local jackpot, which is often congregated by operators, who collate the jackpots offered by different suppliers into a single stream.
JP: Blueprint Gaming’s Jackpot King was one of the first progressive systems launched in the online sector and to this day continues to attract the interest of players across Europe. Earlier this year, Jackpot King paid out €8.1 million to one lucky PokerStars Casino player who triggered the Wheel King feature whilst playing Deal or No Deal Megaways. That was a record prize for Jackpot King and generated significant interest from within the online casino community.
We continue to keep Jackpot King fresh and appealing to players by introducing new titles to the system’s games library. Recent additions to Jackpot King include Diamond Mine, the first licensed Megaways game released to the global market, and our branded title Top Cat Most Wanted. We’re constantly reviewing which Blueprint games are next in line to join Jackpot King, as well as identify new ways we can update its look and feel.
AS: Our personal progressive jackpots have always been popular in our games. The challenge that we have faced has been in relation to certain jurisdictions, which explicitly state that progressive jackpots are not allowed. Some regulations are so strict that you cannot even use the phrase ‘jackpot’ in any shape or form. That’s why we came up with our feature Cashpots which offers players the possibility to claim five different levels of bonuses within a game. This provides the opportunity to win big, but without the progressive part.
RL: At present, we only offer one progressive game to our operators, this falls into the category of more achievable and they are won very frequently. While not offering life-changing sums of money, the player has the chance of winning a number of them in one playing session, which adds to the overall allure of the gameplay.
Is there scope to innovate further within jackpots? What new concepts are you working on?
AL: The use of jackpots within the social casinos is something that we are very excited about, and the idea of adding or at least mixing jackpot models with tournament models is very interesting. That means you not only have jackpot winners but competition between players. Such community-based, social interactions would help to attract the new generation of players, who have grown up in constant communication with their peers.
Jackpot Race gives you the opportunity to have several winners, which you could put on a leaderboard, driving engagement and retention by stimulating competition between players, which I predict will be a key calling card for operators going forward.
JP: Very much so, particularly as online casinos look to broaden their offering and appeal to the next generation of players coming through. One example of how we’ve recently evolved Jackpot King is by making it into its own slot outright. The game incorporates our new Prize Lines mechanic and offers an alternative way to activate the iconic Wheel King and win one of Jackpot King’s three pots. During each game consisting of five spins, players aim to climb the prize ladder by completing Prize Lines, which pay horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. A full house of Prize Lines gains entry to the Wheel King.
The beauty of Blueprint Gaming is that we’re constantly reviewing the gaming experience and finding new ways of delivering entertainment for players. Taking the jackpots genre forward is definitely a key priority for us, so watch this space for future innovations that we have up our sleeve.
AS: There’s always room for innovation, especially in an industry such as ours. We recently introduced Jackpots as a part of our Bullseye promo tools suite. This tool allows our partners to launch campaigns with progressive linked jackpots of different levels to cater to both short-term and long-term engagement and retention needs. We see a lot of potential in different variants of must-drop and community-based jackpots which we are currently exploring intensely.
RL: There is always scope to innovate in any product area, jackpots are no different. We are currently working on a product that takes the proven aspects of some of the areas we have mentioned and building on them to add unique and innovative gameplay elements, enhancing the product to match the demands of today’s players and their preferences.
Games that feature progressive jackpots continue to be hugely popular, so we’re committed to developing new twists to keep the experience fresh and appealing. Watch this space in 2022!