One-man focus group reveals insights on player likes and dislikes

I’ve interviewed a lot of slot players in the course of the consulting work that we do, and those players always share great insight into how our casino clients can make the slot player more loyal and the slot playing experience more enjoyable. I’m literally amazed that more casinos don’t talk to these folks on a regular basis (ask your customers what they want…then give it to them!).

The Interview

Me:OK, so you’re a new slot player who has had a pretty good taste of the product and the experience. So whaddya think?

Myself: Well, as a “smart” casino gambler, it’s almost embarrassing to admit that overall, I have enjoyed it and can now see more clearly why so many millions slurp up this slot commodity in such prodigious quantities.

Me:What did you especially like about the slots?

Myself:Wow, where should I start? Well, first of all, that whole “bonus” thing just kind of hangs out there like this lurking pot of gold and the anticipation of getting to that bonus round is probably more adrenalin-producing than the bonus round itself. The frequency of getting paid SOMETHING on any given spin was pretty impressive and made it less distressing the many times my credit bankroll was being whittled away. I’m sure B.F. Skinner is smiling somewhere.

Me: What games did you play?

Myself: I tried to play some of the newest games from as many slot manufacturers as I could (they were mostly all new for me however) and I tended to focus on the 1 cent and 5 cent video slots, although I enjoyed a few of the latest multiline reel games as well. I think it was that bonus thing again driving my behavior.

Me:Any other parts of the “slot ride” that you especially liked?

Myself: Well I hate to harp on this bonus thing, but I liked the games that had three or four levels of progressive bonuses, where you played a bonus round where getting a little further, or a little luckier, got you to a bigger bonus level. I also liked some of the game icons and some of the lights and sounds, but certainly not all of them. I very much liked the “community games,” where any player’s good fortune could trigger a bonus for the whole bank of machine players. But most of all, having heard so much over the years from slot execs about “the math” of the slot games, I really liked it when the “math” seemed right, as subjective as that sounds. Kind of like “LOSE, LOSE, LOSE, SMALL PAY, SMALL PAY, MEDIUM PAY, LOSE, LOSE, BONUS ROUND.” Or something like that. I think I understand now when slot players tell me they don’t mind losing if the game will just “tease them a little.” That’s probably good math at work.

Me:And what didn’t you like about your slot experience?

Myself: Well, there were a lot of little things, but only if all those little things converged at once did it get modestly annoying. Slot stools are still too uncomfortable and the reach to hit the buttons still needs some ERGONOMICS 101. Some games have annoying sounds, at least after you’ve heard the same music or voice 100 times. Noise from competing slots can start to wear you out, too. I don’t like it when several of the slot symbols look alike, so that it “feels” that you should have won on a spin. Sometimes the bonus round feels way too infrequent or too low-paying. My pet peeve is a slot game that makes you wait 30 seconds before you can cash out, because “you are still eligible for the bonus.” And slot jackpot pays still seem to take too long. But all in all, I’ve been entertained and don’t begrudge the slot dollars that I have lost.

Me:Any closing thoughts?

Myself: Well, I’m still a hard-core table game player, but I’ll venture into the slots now and spend a few bucks there and not feel stupid about it. There must be a lesson here for the slot manufacturers. If they’re listening.