The following is the full transcript of our interview with Quickspin’s CPO, Joachim Timmermans, about the company’s new Achievements loyalty program. It’s been one of the most anticipated releases in iGaming since the first announcement, with plenty of questions thrown up with regards to how Achievements will be implemented at online casinos.
So, armed with a decent arsenal of queries, concerns and comments that many of us in the industry shared, we asked Joachim to explain Quickspin’s Achievements in full. Being one of the founding members of the company and a key driver behind this new feature, he was the perfect person to turn to. Here’s what he came back with.
Tell us about the new feature Achievements – how will it change the game experience for players?
Achievements is basically a new gameplay layer that we’re adding to our games. The idea is that we want to create an additional reason for people to play our slots, a little bit like in the video game industry where you’ve seen additional challenges come up in the last 10 years or so. Even though they’re not crucial for the ultimate goal of the game, they still give you an additional reason, or carrot for you to chase, should you want to stay longer than you need to.
A good example is Grand Theft Auto – it’s a big, open-world environment whereby if you run out of missions and quests to do, you can still take on extra tasks. There’s a silly one where you have to kill 200 pigeons. That is not something you’re going to do if you don’t enjoy the game! However, if you really enjoy the game then an achievements-like module is a perfect way of doing that. So, we want to bring that into slots and give people who enjoy these games deeper enjoyment from it.
We are introducing 6 Achievements per game. Each one is tied into a game event that we have in the slots, and every event is something meaningful to the player. For example, in Sakura Fortune, whenever you get a respin this is tied to an event, whenever you enter the free spins bonus round there is an event, whenever you get a big win there is an event, and so on. Each Achievement has 4 levels – bronze, silver, gold and diamond – with every one of these being progressively more difficult to achieve, but also more rewarding. So, the player can see their progress towards completing each level of each achievement within the game. Whenever a player has completed an Achievement, they get tokens as a reward.
The way that we’ve built this Achievements module is very similar to what operators do with their loyalty programs. They always aim to give a certain return to players, typically a cashback principle, to reward them based on their turnover last month. What we’ve done is we’ve made it real-time in our games, make it very visual, make it more fun and entertaining for the player. But, ultimately, what we’re trying to do is give a fun experience and also a reward – a thank you for playing, basically.
Are you going to add Achievements to all your future games?
It will be starting with Sakura Fortune from 11th April, and, yes, every future slot will have Achievements available.
How about older slots, will they be redesigned with Achievements?
We would like to introduce Achievements to all our slots, our entire portfolio. We are aiming to have about 5 titles with Achievements before summer time – this is the ultimate goal. Overall, we’d like to offer it for all our games in the future. It’s a little bit dependent on how players and operators perceive it – if the feedback is good, the more people enjoy it, the higher the chances that we’ll roll it out to all our games.
As Achievements uses loyalty tokens, will these be shared across online casinos?
The loyalty tokens that players receive through the Achievements module is something that won’t be shared across casinos. As a player, you have a certain ID which gets communicated to Quickspin, so we don’t really know who is behind it. If you play at another brand, you get a different ID and for us you are a different person.
From that perspective, we can’t share tokens across different casinos. At the same time, casinos wouldn’t want this to happen because you use these tokens to trigger the free spins bonus from within our games. So, when you have, for example, 7 tokens you can trigger the free spins bonus in Sakura which ultimately means that a regular free spins bonus round gets played out. The outcome of that appears in your balance and is basically a cost to the operator.
So, they would not be happy for you to go and play at one casino and then cash in your tokens at another! Hence, you can only use your tokens at the casino site you play at.
Do you think all online casinos with Quickspin titles will offer Achievements?
We hope that all operators will offer Achievements, mostly because it is a nice additional experience to the player. From their perspective, they would be offering a lesser product if they didn’t enable Achievements. However, the biggest consideration that online casinos have, which is understandable, is that if they already run a loyalty program then this will be an extra cost. Due to this, I do expect some operators to not offer it just because they give similar value through their own channel – so then it wouldn’t be available.
However, the offering of Achievements is purely up to the operator. If it fits within their overall marketing strategy then they will offer it. If it doesn’t then they will probably switch it off.
As Achievements is seen as an industry-first in the iGaming world, do you expect other game providers to adopt a similar strategy?
We’ve done Achievements before through our partnership with Plumbee in the free-to-play space, where our games are available on Facebook and mobile. We have a very similar module there with a loyalty currency where you can trigger the free spins bonus round. It was very successful, people really liked it. So, since it’s been out there for a while, I assume that because now we’re taking it across the entire board, I think the visibility will be bigger. I think players and operators will be talking about it, so there is a higher chance that it will be picked up now than before.
Where I think the general trend is going within the online gaming space is operators taking this type of content within their own website and lobby. Ultimately, it’s them that have the direct relationship with the player, so it is them that should cater for Achievements and loyalty programs. I do think that, yes gamification features are going to be very important in the industry going forward, but that’s it’s going to be mostly the casinos driving it with suppliers helping them with building blocks rather than readymade solutions like Achievements. I think this kind of module that we’re building is the first step towards a wider gamification expansion in the industry.
You’ve recently stated your doubts that virtual reality is nothing more than a “novelty fad”. Do you see new gamification features, such as Achievements, being more important in the future rather than huge technological breakthroughs?
Yeah, I think that virtual reality is a little bit of a fad at the moment – and that’s mostly timing and industry related. Personally, I’m a big fan of virtual reality. Ever since I was a child, I saw footage on this gaming show on television where virtual reality was a promise – a promise that never really happened until today. However, if you look at the industry and the options that are out there for our players, you have the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift and the PlayStation Pro. Those are the 3 main virtual reality devices out there. Now, you need to have content that is very much catered towards the virtual reality experience, and when I play Resident Evil 7 on my PlayStation Pro, it’s fantastic! I love crawling around in this haunted mansion setting, being afraid of any zombie that can suddenly come out of nowhere and put his chainsaw in me – something that has happened many times. I love it!
However, like gamification, virtual reality should add something extra to the core experience. If it enriches it, it makes it so much better. It makes it absolutely worthwhile to go through all the hassle of connecting the million cables, which is it. You have to put this bucket on your head and you do feel nausea when using it – but at the same time it’s totally worth it for Resident Evil as it’s so much better than without it. If you look at slots, is it worth it to go through all that hassle to play virtual reality slots? I don’t think so, as, for me, it doesn’t add anything extra – in fact, it actually stands in the way of the slots experience!
I played Gonzo from Net Entertainment at ICE – I thought it was fantastically done. It was on par with what I’ve seen on the PlayStation Pro VR, but at the same time when I was done with it I was happy to have seen it but wouldn’t necessarily want to experience it again. I saw Gonzo dancing around, I saw this bird doing crazy things and it was amazing, really cool! However, at the same time, I was hardly paying attention to the slot itself. So, if I want to play Gonzo’s Quest, I’m not going to do the VR version, I’m going to do the regular version because why go through all the hassle?
I think for the fad comment, it’s mostly about the fact that it’s too expensive – very few of the players actually have access to VR. So, for us to develop slots for VR, it’s not going to generate any return. I think the bigger companies should definitely do it as they should be at the forefront of innovation – offering something that is new yet doesn’t necessarily generate a return now, possibly in 10 years. But for a company like us, rather small, we can’t afford to do that kind of investment.
I still believe that slots, specifically, is not the right target for VR. I can see it working with live dealers, table games, where you have a little bit of a social experience and it would make sense, maybe, to have that VR environment. But for slots, I don’t see it working.
That’s great. Finally, do you have anything you’d like to add for our readers?
As a last note, I’d say that we’re very happy and thankful that players have embraced our games. We started around 5 years ago with a hope of bringing some new slots to the market. We hoped that operators and players would like them, which they have done. This has allowed us to grow and expand our portfolio.
So, for us, it’s just a thank you to our players for supporting us, and we hope that we can produce better and more innovative content for them in the future.