Back in the old days, branded slots were something fresh, cool, and new. Whether you wanted to bang your head to Guns N Roses or Jimi Hendrix, or find artifacts like Lara Croft - they were a force to be reckoned with. However, in the past few years, I have a feeling we are all getting a bit bored of them. It’s like they are not as exciting as they used to be, especially compared to new original titles that get progressively better. Are these games still hens that lay golden eggs, or a fad that will soon be forgotten, just like the fidget spinner?
When I first became involved with the online casino industry, branded slots were my jam! For me as a newbie, they were a safe haven, something familiar, and the least intimidating games I could find. Why play Starburst, when I can have the whole DC Universe all for myself? It’s like when you are at a party full of strangers, and finally notice a friend! I can’t be the only one who felt like this. Seeing something I know in an overwhelming environment (and we all know how glitzy and flashy online casinos can be), was inviting me to stay.
The same thing happens to players every day. They enter a casino, notice popular characters, and decide to sign up. There is nothing wrong with that. But after having enough courage to try other games as well, very few people will go back to branded slots. I know I didn’t. And here’s why!
One of the things I dislike about branded slots is they, more often than not, look like lazy releases. I am pretty aware that the casino scene is experiencing dozens of new titles each week, so finding a solid high-quality game can be a bit of a challenge. Yet, somehow, I still encounter a really interesting unique new slot every 10 days or so. At the same time, I don’t remember when was the last time I got really excited about a branded slot.
I am no legal expert, and I never signed a deal with WB, Universal, or DC Comics (or any other movie or music company for that matter). Still, I think it is general knowledge that in order to produce copyrighted merchandise (which slots definitely are), you have to play by the rules. Such rules limit creativity in every way. Yes, having a catchy tune all ready and set up to put in your slot can speed up the production process tremendously, and it shows, but I struggle to come up with even one branded title that could be considered an industry evergreen.
The most recent branded slots I played reminded me of movie trailers on repeat. They bring nothing new to the game, not even innovative features. On most occasions, we have experienced them before, just with another set of superheroes, or whatnot.
Meanwhile, the worlds of Gonzo’s Quest, Immortal Romance, and other original classics are gifts that keep on giving. Original, each unique in their own way, and intriguing, they can be played over and over again.
Another thing I don’t like about branded slots is that I have a feeling they speak to underage audiences. In this case, I know I’m not the only one. Recently, one concerned citizen reported Ladbrokes for advertising the slot The Goonies. In their opinion, it was targeting children and teens. UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) disregarded the complaint and explained The Goonies is a cult classic movie, appealing to audiences that have already grown up.
With all due respect, I think ASA missed an opportunity to encourage the protection of the most vulnerable groups. Maybe I’m wrong, but I notice a strong 80s and 90s revival in all forms of mass media (think Stranger Things, Super Mario, Friends, Wonder Woman 1984). Kids these days are crazy about movies and shows released or set decades ago, so yes, such kids would play The Goonies slot if they had the chance.
The Goonies are not alone. There is also Jumanji and a bunch of other family-friendly movies. Some of them even have recent remakes! And don’t even get me started on those inspired by video games or board games. Yes, the Narcos slot is, without a doubt, targeting adult players, but Jurassic Park could be targeting anyone from 7 to 107. Kids sure love their dinosaurs!
Of course, it is not only game providers to blame, but also production companies and musical conglomerates. They’ll try to squeeze the last penny from every copyright they possess. From my point of view, it is important to understand everyone is responsible when it comes to the protection of those who can’t protect themselves. Limiting how certain characters and materials can be used might not go hand in hand with the free market, but it should be considered a social responsibility.
Providers who want to release branded slots should use their negotiation powers to keep as much freedom as possible while avoiding themes and characters that appeal to children. They should try to think from a customer’s point of view and bring something exciting to the mix, rather than just relying on what they already have. We need branded slots that are not mere promotional materials placed into reels, but innovative, attention-grabbing concepts that keep players engaged. If companies can’t deliver at least that, they can keep their branded “masterpieces”. I sure know I won't be playing them. I’ll stick to the originals, instead.
This article delivers the thoughts and opinions of the author, and it doesn't represent the stance of GoodLuckMate.