For Chris Rowe, the secret to slot games that draw millions of players from numerous countries and cultures rests on one simple principle.
“They’ve got to be fun. Very fun,” says Rowe, Aristocrat Gaming’s managing director of LATAM and EMEA, whose responsibilities include being the corporate liaison for company efforts throughout Latin America (including Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America), plus Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “This is all about (providing) an enjoyable experience.”
Operating in more than 300 gaming jurisdictions and consistently ranking at the top of slot performance studies, Aristocrat has shown a talent for entertaining customers. Rowe credits that to the worldwide presence and experience of the Aristocrat workforce.
For example, French players relish some games that originated in the United States and others that came from Macau, Rowe said. A game developed for Australia introduced the revolutionary hold-and-spin mechanic in the United States. Games originating in Asia have fans around the world.
Operating on a global scale requires dealing with different languages, different currencies, and regulations that vary from country to country, such as betting limits, win limits, and, in some cases, marketing restrictions.
“It isn’t one-size-fits-all,” Rowe said. “It is important to spend time there and understand what is popular and what players enjoy. Aristocrat’s presence around the world in many different markets helps us assemble the right portfolio for (a specific) market.”
Regulations can create “very nuanced” distinctions between countries. “There are markets where, for example, we take our best-performing products out of the United States and they’re almost an ideal fit for a particular market in Europe,” Rowe said. “For others, we have to do customization to the game to fit within what is an approvable product.”
February’s ICE London show will be something of a reunion for Aristocrat and many of its international customers. Because of pandemic-related travel restrictions, few land-based operators were able to attend the 2022 show, Rowe said. “This is super exciting to be face-to-face with our greatest customers across Europe and Africa.” At ICE London, from Feb. 7 through 9, the company will exhibit a new collection of for-sale Link games, including Mo Mummy, Ji Cai Hao Yun, Mighty Cash Ultra, and 5 Dragons Ultra.
“We’re excited for the lineup of products that we will have, because we really have spent quite a lot of time in tuning our global portfolio for the needs of the EMEA market,” Rowe said.
Aristocrat will offer games tailored for specific markets at ICE. The company’s new oneLINK mystery solution is included on classic titles and five new games aimed at the South African bingo market, while Midnight Express is the first multi-game for the Spanish arcade market. Both feature a hold-and-spin mechanic.
Rowe said ideas for games tend to flow from the initial market outward rather than being handed down from corporate.
“We have teams of people in each individual market, living and breathing that market on a daily basis,” he said. “(An idea) tends to start with a first market and then go out, but the first market could be any of our global markets that have a need,” he explained. After developing the initial game, “we look for the opportunity to parlay that experience into other markets around the world.” He cited these examples:
- Lightning Link, developed for the Australian market, made a “big splash” in the United States, pioneering the hold-and-spin mechanic.
- Bao Zhu Zhao Fu, first developed for the U.S. market, is now popular around the world.
- Jin Cai Hao Yun and Good Fortune were developed for Asia but are now and will be enjoyed by players in numerous countries.
“It’s been fun to work across Europe and see that blend,” said Rowe, who sees a type of “magic” in adapting titles that gain fans around the world. “There are games that come from the United States, from Asia, and from Australia that all enjoy some level of success in Europe as well.”