OLD GAMES, NEW TRICKS - THE SUBTLE ART OF INNOVATION
In a world in which innovation is prized and the new always beats the old, what can official lotteries offer players to keep them interested and excited? Is it a matter of constantly introducing new games, or can a more subtle approach be taken? Antonis Dimos, Group director of Lotteries at INTRALOT, argues for the subtle approach – tweaks and adjustments rather than sweeping changes.
Customer expectations are boundless; customers today have very little patience with products that they deem traditional. Innovation cycles are rapidly becoming shorter, which means that companies have to constantly be on their toes, turning out new products, new services and, often, new solutions.
In this fast-changing world, government-endorsed lotteries were bound to be forced out of their protective cocoon sooner than later; more changes have occurred in just the last five years, than during the previous twenty years combined.
Were they all successful? The easy answer would be “no” – not all initiatives brought the highly anticipated increase in sales, attracted new players or captured the elusive Millennial audience… What's more, nowadays, when official lotteries create and market a new game, within six months some online company operating in their jurisdiction has produced a similar offering, leveraging the lottery’s robust marketing efforts for their own benefit.
Regardless of their actual success, most changes have produced useful insight on what works and what does not.
The importance of this lesson increases exponentially when taking into account that consumers’ reasons for purchasing do not always align with what they state in market research. In certain cases, the reason cited for purchase significantly deviates from the product attribute people expressed interest in, suggesting that existing offerings do not currently fulfill certain needs. These areas present strong product development opportunities.
Leverage brand power by starting at the finish line
When it comes to innovation, small ideas can bring big wins; improvements and extensions can include an incrementally better version, a game extension or a new play style, and can significantly change the growth line projections.
Just as a line extension can improve the chances for new product success, the right additions can also enhance the core brand’s strength. Ideally, a line extension strengthens the parent brand by addressing one of its weaknesses. In order to develop a successful innovation, marketers need to conduct an in-depth review of brand performance to understand how well the game is meeting consumers’ needs. By addressing the areas that fall short, there is an opportunity to strengthen the brand as a whole.
At INTRALOT, we specialize in advancing new lottery products and developing ways to estimate, gain and manage incremental sales growth. To get there, we take a player-centric approach. We use market research to gather player insights, and then work from the top down to new product development and creative marketing initiatives to meet and exceed business and marketing objectives. By being good listeners, we develop initiatives that result in incremental sales for the lottery. In the following paragraphs, we take a sneak-peak at the company’s patented product roadmap.
Player’s choice – increasing the entry price, without a price increase
The decision of whether to increase the entry price, how often and how much, has tormented operators since the launch of the first lottery games. To address this concern, INTRALOT created “Player’s Choice”, a new game concept that combines multiple game differentiations (in terms of price, payout, winning experience) into a single offering with a unified jackpot to be shared among winners, depending on their participation parameters.
The aim is to provide players with a variety of choices in one, high-jackpot game.
This concept can be introduced as an entirely new game offering, or an enhancement of an existing game. Players are presented with a familiar concept enhanced by a simple twist, meaning, from the players’ perspective, no redundant complexity is added to the game mechanics. Simultaneously, for the lottery operator, the effort and costs involved are kept to a minimum, considering the fact that the game concept includes multiple single games – one for each price point – into one collective game.
Providing game options that transcend those currently offered (e.g. consecutive draws, stake multipliers) is the main focus of this new concept. Players can opt for higher jackpots, increased winning experience, or lower entry price according to their preferences, without having to alter their game of choice.
One common pool is funded by all price points, allowing the jackpot to grow beyond the separately collected top prizes, thereby creating amplified anticipation and excitement among the players when communicated.
Extended games – keep players coming for more
Player retention is as important as player acquisition – even more so in mature markets with high levels of brand awareness. Keeping players engaged is a bet worth pursuing, especially in an environment full of distractions.
INTRALOT has created the extended draw games category to meet exactly that requirement; these are games of multiple linked draws, with each successfully completed draw bringing the winner closer to the higher prize (either jackpot or fixed amount).
The ability for a player to control the flow of their game is a novel concept for the numerical lottery games. Deciding whether to continue for greater prizes or settle for current winnings will enhance the player experience and engagement, and will appeal to a younger, more informed audience.
The aim is to refresh the current games portfolio, offering the players a sense of progressive anticipation, while including different features and factors from alternative game genres.
There are two different types of such games designed: one that focuses on higher jackpots, and one that focuses on higher winning possibility and speed.
Labyrinth (focus on the jackpot)
Labyrinth offers level-up rewards and a high jackpot in a creative lottery game design.
The player, in order to win the jackpot, needs to match their selected numbers with the numbers drawn in each one of the draws (e.g. 5). In the case of no jackpot winner, the jackpot will roll over for the next set of draws.
This game concept ensures the continuous involvement of the players throughout the draw cycle; players have the chance to win in every single draw, while building up excitement and anticipation for the final draw awarding the jackpot.
Money ladders (focus on higher winning possibility and speed)
This is a new game concept that consists of several levels or “ladders”. In each ladder, following a winning result, the player is presented with the decision whether to continue to the next ladder, thus exercising control over their progress.
The aim is to involve the player more deeply in the gaming process and, at the same time, prolong their presence at the point of sale.
In order to participate, the player selects one digit for the first level and, if they win the prize for that level, they may opt to forfeit the amount won and participate in the second level, by selecting a new digit. The same procedure is repeated until the ticket either does not win in a draw or the fifth and final level is played.
This is a fast, engaging game that can work together with, or instead of, a keno-type game. It is designed to enhance a sense of winning for the players, and recycling effect for the lotteries, as well as cultivating the relationship between the lottery and its players by expanding life-cycle value for both stakeholders.
For a quarter of a century, INTRALOT has developed innovative products that focus on delivering high levels of player satisfaction through their participation in games that offer both a life-changing opportunity and an entertaining experience. Together with our clients, we continue to walk the thin line between adding value and increasing complexity, aiming to make each new launch a new gaming experience, rather than another game.
Increased uncertainty urges us not only to facilitate innovation effectively, but also maintain agility for inevitable future changes.
The need to be different, the pressure to bring revenue and the opportunities to create are greater than ever, and so are the rewards to be reaped.
Antonis Dimos is Group Director of Lotteries in the Products and Services Division at INTRALOT. He has almost 24 years of gaming industry experience and has fulfilled various international operations roles at INTRALOT.