Pallavi Deshmukh: “Gen Z Is Looking for Edgy Themes, Simple Gameplay & Edgy Sounds”

As the iGaming business evolves, developer studios get more opportunities to create amazing gambling games. Although many players are used to seeing classic features in modern video slots, this niche definitely has room for innovative solutions.

To find out more about the upcoming trends that are shaping the development process these days, our team spoke with Pallavi Deshmukh, Chief Executive Officer at NetGaming. Her iGaming journey began back in 2003 at PartyGaming, where she led the affiliate program for 13 years. Thanks to many years of managerial experience, she was able to launch her development studio in 2019, and it has become one of the fastest-growing companies in the global iGaming market.

In the interview, Pallavi shared her thoughts on the innovation in slot development, thematic trends for Gen Z and Millennials, game mechanics, and more.

In your opinion, what factors play the biggest role in gaining traction in the highly competitive environment of casino gaming?

I think the biggest factor is to carve out a niche as an organization. It is important to offer a unique proposition to customers.

We have incorporated various levels of customization in our games. This way, ops can offer a personalized experience to their players via some of the features that are built into the games. We also focus on crypto and NFT in the development strategy, creating various NFT-themed slots.

The multiplier feature of these slots has been very popular. We have split our NFT and crypto strategy into 2 parts. Our focus has been to build NFT-themed slots in 2022 and start integrating with the crypto world in 2023.

We are looking beyond themed slots to see how we can leverage web 3.0 technology to distribute the iGaming content via channels that the consumer of the future will be using. Gen Z is a very different type of player profile: they are less engaged than more traditional slot players, and there are lots of other digital entertainment options competing for their time. So, this approach to game design offers these players something innovative and engaging.  

How does your team approach game development? Do you prefer to create classic slots with traditional elements or to innovate in every single title you create? Why? 

To cater to a large cross-section of the player community and customers, we take a balanced approach to game development. A significant part of our roadmap is dedicated to innovative content. One of our recent releases is a unique mash-up of slot and arcade with unlimited free spins and a boss fight. Some slots also have the very exciting #WAGMI multiplier that offers a random multiplier on each spin which can increase or decrease with each spin. It builds anticipation and excitement also making each game session a unique experience. In 2023, we are pushing our boundaries further with some truly groundbreaking concepts that have never been seen before. 

Although most of the industry is looking for unique content, there is a significant portion of the market that expects more traditional games. The top-performing game in our portfolio is a 3×3 slot with 3 unique features per joker. A classic slot that performs across all countries but especially in Norway and Finland. While we are keen to offer innovative content, we don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to appeal to classic casinos and traditional slot players.  

From your perspective, what gameplay and thematic trends are the most promising for modern slots?

The market trends are changing quite significantly. Although there is still a market for old-school slot themes like Egypt, Leprechauns, and fruits, the modern player is less interested in them. Gen Z is looking for edgy themes, simple gameplay, and epic sounds. NFT-themed slots are proving very popular.

At NetGaming, we ensure our themes are tightly integrated with the game mechanics. Simple gameplay has the maximum market reach as a majority of the players enjoy it. We aim to make our games intuitive; this ensures higher engagement as players do not need to go through the game rules to understand the game. Multipliers have proven extremely popular; re-spins and mini jackpot features all seem to be doing well. 

How do you encourage players to be loyal to your brand? What elements should the game include in order for gamblers to have the most enjoyable experience while playing?

Consistently delivering entertaining content and ensuring that we are at the top of casino lobbies are a couple of key factors that drive loyalty. Game math, mechanics, and art are crafted based on player preferences. We receive a lot of customer feedback, and we try to incorporate everything relevant in our games.

Simple games with clear win opportunities that allow players to understand what they need to aim for are the key. If a game is journey-driven, in which the player explores various features as they progress, then this should reflect in the game design, art, and visual representations. Some of the key elements that make a game entertaining are bonus features, anticipation, and music. These build excitement and improve player engagement.

In your opinion, should development studios prioritize the quality of games over their quantity? Or will the studio not be able to make it in this industry with only a few slots?

Quality vs quantity is always an interesting debate. I firmly believe in quality over quantity. There are several other content providers who have a target of 2, 3, or 4 game releases per month. In doing so they may clone game mechanics and not develop each game from scratch. There are multiple factors that come into play while deciding quality vs quantity. The number of resources, other priorities in the organization, monthly budgets, and demand in the market. Delivering more than 1 game per month might cannibalize the performance of other games from the same studio. 

What innovative game mechanics do you consider the most advanced and successful in recent years?

The last time a game mechanic really took the industry by storm was Megaways. The number of games with that mechanic in the market is a testament to its success.

What technology can take slot gaming to the next level in the foreseeable future? Does your company plan to implement it?

At NetGaming, we are actively looking at web 3 and how we can leverage the technology. It is highly complex, there aren’t a lot of platforms available to plug and play. It is important to explore the technology and adapt elements that make the most sense to our organization.

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