At Best New Bingo Sites we’re always interested in hearing about the latest innovations in slot games. I caught up with Henry McLean, the co-founder and commercial and marketing director at 4ThePlayer for an inside angle from one of the industry’s leading challenger brand game suppliers.
Q: How did you first get started in slot game creation? How has game design changed since then?
I got involved in gaming nearly 20 years ago! Initially, it was a Uni placement in a multimedia agency that later evolved into Ash Gaming. I worked there for many years, developing the brand and marketing the games. We then sold that business to Playtech. I worked at Playtech for many more years across all products (Casino, Live, Sports, Bingo, Poker, Virtual, Retail) globally, before deciding it was time to return to startups, and the rest is history 🙂
A lot has changed in all those years, not only in regulation but also in players’ appetites and market trends. The gaming space is just like any other industry where things come into fashion and quickly fall out of fashion!
Another significant change is how educated many of the players are now. I often have detailed conversations with players about their experiences and the mathematics behind them, discussing hit frequency and volatility. This is something that never would have happened years ago!
Q: What was the first game you published at 4theplayer and how well did it go down with players? Would you go back and change anything?
Our first slot game was 9k Yeti. We aimed to create a slot game that was both memorable and classic, yet exciting enough to leave an impression of what we were about. I am pleased to say that 9k Yeti was an instant hit and continues to be a player favourite today! In terms of what I would change, I wouldn’t change anything, as we learned so much from launching that game and it laid the foundations for what we are releasing today.
Q: You have worked with Yggdrasil to create games with their Gigablox mechanic and with Relax Gaming to create a game for their Dream Drop progressive jackpot system. How did you find the collaboration process?
We have great relationships with both, as we are part of their third-party programs, YGS Masters and Relax Silver Bullet. This involvement is how we were invited to work with their mechanics. The process was very similar to our normal development process.
With Gigablox, the biggest challenge is always the math – those Gigablox are super powerful, so balancing the game presents a lot of challenges for Andrew, who is our CEO as well as our ‘Math Magician’!
If you enjoy Gigablox, wait until you see what we have coming in 2024 – 4 Fantastic Fish Gigablox!
Regarding Dream Drop, one of its best features from a game studio’s point of view is that we can design the Jackpot feature exactly as we want to! However, that presents additional challenges as we aim to make sure it’s just right, offering the right amount of anticipation and excitement. I am proud of what we created with 5k Gold Mine Dream Drop. On its second day of release, one lucky player hit the top Jackpot, winning €2,311,598.41 from a 0.60 spin – we hope another player can hit the 5k Gold Mine again next year!
Q: Tell us about your latest game 1K Yeti. How does it differ from previous Yeti games?
Every game we create has a purpose and a reason, with 1k Yeti we wanted to create a lines game, rather than our traditional Ways mechanic – as players and casinos have been asking us for lines games. So we decided on 40 lines.
When looking into it we also thought it was a great opportunity to make a lower volatility Yeti, with a stripped-back but still powerful feature – the Yeti Rush feature. Which is a walking wild stack in the free spins. As a result, 1k Yeti was born!
The game has only just been released, but the initial results show that players love what we created.
We now have a Yeti for all player types, 90k Yeti Gigablox is your highly volatile game, 9k Yeti is your middle Yeti with its snowstorm feature and 1k Yeti is your softer less volatile Yeti.
Q: Speaking of Yeti games, 9K Yeti comes in a regular and a Christmas version. Was that planned from the start? And what’s involved in producing a Christmas version of a game?
Everyone knows Yeti loves Christmas! Haha, no, seriously, this idea first came about because we were fed up with seeing all these lacklustre Christmas games that were rushed out for the season. We wondered if there was a way to add a festive twist to a non-seasonal, good game, and that’s how Yetimas was born!
It is not actually a separate game; it’s the same game where Yeti automatically enters the festive spirit in December across all Yeti games. Including our recently released 9k Yeti retail, so make sure you check the machine in your local pub, arcade and club – you might just find 9k Yeti.
Q: What game themes and features can we expect to see from you in 2024?
We have a very busy 2024 planned, with lots of exciting games up our sleeve. Our first game in 2024 is 4 Fantastic Fish Gigablox, followed by 7 Gold Fruits, which is a classic-themed game with an awesome 4ThePlayer twist.
Despite having more games planned than ever before, we are still staying true to our mantra that we are for the player. We make games we would want to play, focusing on fun and experiences, and see ourselves as a boutique, rather than just a factory churning out a game a week.
Before I go I just want to say thank you to all our players, we really appreciate you! If you want to get in touch please feel free to do so via socials or our website. We hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a winning 2024!
Thank you Henry for talking to us and a very Merry Christmas to you too! Really excited to see the new games that are coming in 2024!
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