It’s the usual end of the month buzz of activity at Reflex Gaming as the leading independent manufacturer prepares to release its latest game, Desperate Dawgs. On the market from 4 October, the canine frolic maintains the prolific output at the Newark games design centre; its new release a month policy is keeping players and cashbox very happy. With ACOS 2021 on the horizon, Mat Ingram talks to Coinslot about merging creative energy with the science of player engagement.
Desperate Dawgs is the latest addition to Reflex Gaming’s ‘GamePro family’. The 10th new game launched this year, it’s a wild west romp set against the backdrop of a glorious sunset as three mischievous dogs – Dog Holliday, Josey Tails and The Chumdance Kid – fashion their way through an exciting slot game that offers three separate bonus games. Based on one of Reflex’s most successful online slots, Desperate Dawgs includes a Free Spins feature with a progressive win multiplier, all available in GamePro, GamePro Twin and GamePro Max.
It’s destined to make a mark; after all, it’s from a stable that has been producing games that are consistently notching up circa 10 index point leads in the CLMS machine charts for the best part of the year.
“We’ve come out of Covid reasonably strong,” Reflex Gaming’s Chief Product Officer Mat Ingram told Coinslot ahead of the DD debut. “We’ve definitely consolidated our status as the independent number one from a games performance point of view.”
There seems to be little argument about that. This year’s big success, Bar X, continues to be Reflex Gaming’s best performer this year, a well-known theme for pub players that certainly resonated in the post Covid months where nostalgia and familiarity seemed to dominate the social and entertainment mood around the country. That, and the fact that it is a very good game.
“Bar X hit the spot coming out of Covid,” noted Ingram. “It was a familiar theme and machine, and it’s a game that players keep coming back to on the digital slots menu.”
The September release, Frozen Kingdom, was another strong showing, hitting top three throughout the month and, it was a similar story for Pecking Pete, one of Reflex’s full three-screen games.
“We like to mix it up a little, and the three screen market offers great visual options. Peckin Pete did very well and it was good fun – a different style to Frozen Kingdom, but it did the important thing of pushing income up, keeping players engaged and entertained.”
And that, for Ingram, is crucial. “You cannot underplay the importance of entertaining players. They’re in a social environment and they want to enjoy playing, whether they win or lose.”
And then there’s the science – the science of machine management that is. With such a vast portfolio of games, Reflex will ‘hero’ a game a month, backing the launch with a profile and promo push on the platform. But Ingram insists, it’s as important to keep a good balance between volatile and steady games.
“Most operators want regular, consistent income from machines, and whilst we aim for strong peaks throughout the year, we also put a lot of emphasis on the bread and butter games which remain popular over a long period. With a game a month, we’re able to mix this up and provide a strong balance between steadily rising incomes and the exciting volatile hikes.”
In fairness though, science is never perfect; some hits come from unexpected places. For Reflex, two of their best performers – Lucky Gems and Lucky Mushrooms – were almost shoe-ins; they delivered as expected, and probably more. But next week’s launch, Desperate Dawgs, has an interesting backstory. It’s been brought to land-based from online – although that’s not where it began. It started life out in the pub and arcade sector as Safe Cracker many years ago and emerged as a market leading game.
Ingram picks up the story. “It was such a good mechanic that we digitised it and then adapted it for online, just to see the reaction. There was no expectation of it being a hit online – the two markets are so different, but Safe Cracker was a great game. So having revised it, we put it on the Yggdrasil platform, and it proved a major success, and continues to be so today.”
Which explains why Ingram is looking forward to Desperate Dawgs making a ‘comeback’ to GamePro in its new incarnation. “I am excited about it. The original Safe Cracker wasn’t designed to be a sophisticated game; it had a very UK-centric vibe to it and a very targeted market. But it was a funny idea that translated to online really well. So we wanted to customise that with a bit of a difference and Desperate Dawgs is the result. You have to make people smile whilst they’re playing and so we make sure we keep games enjoyable and fun. And Desperate Dawgs fits the bill.”
The game will get the special Reflex treatment; it will be heroed over the coming month and will move on up to the main menu in four weeks time to make way for the next monthly release.
Pressure on the creatives? Not really, Ingram has driven the monthly output of games. It is, he says, “the right balance to deliver sufficient content, keep players interested and income flowing”
“And we have a small and talented team of creatives,” he noted proudly.
No wonder he’s letting the Dawgs out this week.