Rob Proctor, VP of Game Development at Light & Wonder, talks exclusively to Slots Gods about the new Wonder 500 slots series
As player habits begin to evolve and new UK gambling recommendations look set to make their way into the law books in the coming months, slot developers are starting to rethink their approach to the traditional slot setup. Wager limits and max payouts are under the spotlight right now and Light & Wonder is poised to make some interesting adaptations to its product offering. Here's what VP of Game Development, Rob Proctor, had to say about these changes and how Light & Wonder is preparing for the future.
Here at Slot Gods, we're passionate about two things, online slots and responsible gambling, so naturally we were delighted when Light & Wonder announced Wonder 500 ahead of ICE this year. Can you start by explaining exactly what Wonder 500 is and how it works?
Wonder 500 is a collection of Light & Wonder slots that have been modified to feature a maximum stake level of £2 and a maximum win of 500x. This means we can offer an exciting, bonus-led gameplay that casual players are so keen on, whilst ensuring responsible gambling is at the heart of our offering.
It is important that players don’t see the lower maximum win potential and assume that this is just a way for suppliers and operators to be tighter with payouts, it is quite the opposite actually. In bringing down the maximum win to 500x we have been able to implement a significantly higher bonus hit rate, which is a win for all involved as the gameplay is more enjoyable and prizes are more attainable.
In setting stakes at a maximum of £2 and wins at 500x, these games see bonuses trigger more frequently. Do you think players will naturally shift towards Wonder 500 games for the excitement factor?
Genuinely yes, I do believe players will shift towards these games; however, we recognise that it might take a bit of time for players to acclimatise to our Wonder 500 offering. The last time players saw price caps on slots in the UK it was a very different situation as the hammer was coming down hard on fixed odds betting terminals, but in this instance, we are ahead of the game and focused on maintaining the entertainment factor within these changes. We have not only implemented a stake cap with player safety in mind though but also to offer players a feature-rich experience that utilises our much-loved portfolio of games.
With the UK Gambling Act reform on the horizon, do you think suppliers across the UK will be forced to cap their game stakes at a lower denomination, much like you have done with Wonder 500 titles?
We have spent the last few months having in-depth conversations with operators around potential reforms to the UK Gambling Act. Time and again we found ourselves talking about slots that feature huge maximum wins reaching into the hundreds of thousands.
These big-money games are becoming less and less attractive in the current climate, not only do they encourage players to bet bigger to chase huge wins, they are also proving risky for the operator. There’s a good chance that whenever someone wins a maximum prize on one of these games, they will leave their ecosystem forever.
While we are still waiting on some form of outcome regarding the UK Gambling Act, I do believe more suppliers will see what we are doing at Light & Wonder and look to emulate it as we edge closer and closer to gambling reform.
Should Wonder 500 be a success in the UK, will you look at developing more games that are specifically tailored for markets facing restrictions or regulatory unrest?
It has always been our intention to roll the Wonder 500 concept out on a much larger scale in the future should this be a success, we are viewing the United Kingdom as our test market so to speak. All of the conditions here are well suited for the product, but we are well aware that there are other regulated markets such as Germany that would also benefit from a tailored approach to game development. Right now, Wonder 500 is available exclusively to Sky Betting & Gaming’s customers in the UK, but there are plenty of operators out there that will be looking at what we are doing together and want a piece of the action themselves.
Are you able to give us an insight into what games will be added to the Wonder 500 line-up in 2023 and beyond?
We have more games in the pipeline for 2023, dates and titles are TBC. Additionally, to this we have big plans to extend the series in 2024!