High 5 Games is on a tireless mission to gather feedback essential to the development of successful games across land-based and online platforms
The social casino gaming market was worth an estimated US$2 billion in 2013 and is growing fast. SuperData Research predicts it could reach $4.4 billion by 2015.
New York-based slots developer High 5 Games was a pioneer in cultivating social gamers on Facebook, and its High 5 Casino social gaming platform ranks as one of the top-three-grossing Facebook apps with more than 1.8 million monthly active users.
More than the monetization opportunities they provide, however, those users bring High 5 Games tremendous value as strategic data collection points for creating games that will work terrestrially and in real-money, regulated online markets. High 5 Casino hosts players from more than 35 countries. The app is localized for 12 languages and 16 currencies. Game titles are ranked by total spins, spins per session and, of course, monetization. Apps are evaluated for effectiveness. User geography and language are analyzed. Player surveys are deliberately designed to be wide-ranging. Themes and features are queried. So are graphics and even music.
In December, High 5 Games launched its second online platform, Shake the Sky, a social site designed specifically for players seeking authentic Asian-themed games.
Shake the Sky boasts 30 titles created by Art Director Nick Chin, a Cannes Award-winning director, producer and writer who joined High 5 Games two and a half years ago.
“We’ve looked for themes that are known in Asian pop culture,” says Mr Chin. “Things that they’re already familiar with that they like. We’ve got the sweeping romantic themes, the Bai She, Chang E, Wuxia traditional-type games. At the moment in China casual gaming, as in cartoon-type games, are doing very well, and we have a whole bunch of those that we’ve put together. We’ve also got a bunch of games for people who play the MMO type of games, big battle games. So we have the variety to pull all those different demographics. Because in 2016 [when the next wave of casino resorts start to open on Cotai] these people will be coming, and it’s to have the mixture in there to get them.”
That larger world of film and television is a continual source of inspiration for Mr Chin, which isn’t surprising given his background, and one of the defining characteristics of High 5 Games’ innovative approach to story-telling. “We’re trying to hit all those key notes that will give atmosphere to the casino floor and help players establish a connection by making them feel emotionally involved,” he says.
High 5 Games has also begun proactively soliciting feedback directly from casino operators, as Alexandra Singer, vice president of Business Development & Partner Relations, explains:
“It’s really trying to hear direct feedback from the operators. We just want to understand what our partners really need, within their specific market. Overall, it’s an eye-opener for our partners to learn we have the mathematic and game design expertise to create anything they need. So the strong, successful game mechanics that we have distributed globally, we can bring to Asia with the right story to excite the players.
” She adds that High 5 Games is also able to give valuable feedback to operators based on the performance and analytics of Asian games on its social platforms.
High 5 Games’ land-based distribution partnerships have been important in gaining exposure for its games in this part of the world. Many players got their first taste of the company’s Asian-themed offerings via IGT’s West Journey Treasure Hunt and Golden Three Kingdom and Bally’s Zhi Nu and Liang Zhu.
High 5 Games has a library of more than 300 games, and just over the past year has created 100 new titles, 30 of which are specifically designed for Asia. “Our partners only have a selection of our games, so maybe the casino operators have not seen the breadth of what’s available to them,” reasons Mrs Singer. “High 5 Games’ social platforms give us the opportunity to glean insights from our player base, and allow us to create games tailored for specific marketplaces and demographics. Not only do our games have global recognition and longevity, but we want to bring that same experience on different platforms.”
The company is actively seeking new distribution partners across all mediums.
“It’s been our history to be successful in land-based casinos, but we’re a digital solution,” adds Mrs Singer. “We’re really a software company, always looking to see how we can distribute our games and be a technical provider.”