Slots games adopting themes from pop culture has been a trend for decades, with game makers attempting to piggyback on the success of mainstream franchises with their own licensed creations.
In spite of the enduring nature of this trend, in recent years there has been a significant uptick in both the number of movies and comics that are being adapted into slots, and the amount of cash they are raking in.
Here’s a look at why this is happening and how the market is likely to change and evolve in the future.
Slots makers are not the only ones to have realised that modern audiences are more engaged and aware of important IPs than ever before. Comic book movies continue to dominate the box office and there is seemingly an unending hunger for cross-platform promotions, tie-ins and cameos for well loved characters in every conceivable incarnation.
Ultimately, brand recognition means everything. There are still unique, original titles like the Starburst slot game to experience, but for every one stand-alone release there are many more which are either officially licensed from or indirectly inspired by a well known fictional franchise or entity.
Prior to the implementation of more movie and comic book branding in the slots market, developers tended to rely on historical figures to garner attention for their creations. Now, with more deals on the table, there is no need to go over the same ground again and again.
Production companies and publishers lending the likenesses of their characters to slots game developers makes more sense today than at any point in the past because there are simply more people playing these games than ever before.
The UK is a particular hotbed for this pastime, with the gambling industry as a whole generating more than £14.4 billion each year, of which £2 billion is associated with online slots alone.
The rise of internet gambling sites and the liberal regulations towards this practice has helped raise the profile of slots and get more people interested in playing.
Add to that the fact that smartphones make it possible to play slots on the go, rather than having to head to a pub or sit at home on a PC, and you have a perfect storm developing to create massive growth in the industry.
The final advantage of the online slot revolution is that it of course means that people from countries where gambling is more heavily restricted can spend their cash through web-based platforms. This brings in a constant and ever-increasing stream of money from markets that were not normally available.
Sell, Sell, Sell
It would be naive to imagine that the executives behind major movie production companies and those in charge of comic book publishing are not constantly on the lookout for new ways to wring more money out of the properties they own.
From the 1970s onwards, merchandising has been a huge part of the Hollywood model, with many franchises making more cash from selling spin-off products and licensing deals than they do from cinema ticket sales.
When billions of pounds are on the table, any potentially lucrative avenue is likely to be explored extensively on the off chance that it will bring in more money. Slots games have proven to be inexpensive to develop and provide a great return on investment. Furthermore there is already an established ecosystem of developers available for companies to use, meaning they do not need to build up in-house teams to tap into this market.
From Game of Thrones to Jurassic Park, online slots themed on movies, books and comics are commonplace. And as long as they make big bucks for developers and production houses, they will continue to reign.