As an established provider of instant win games to the Lottery sector, we asked IWG how innovation will drive the sector to the next level.
The instant win vertical has firmly positioned itself as a viable and profitable product for North American Lotteries, as the likes of the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, Michigan Lottery and Pennsylvania Lottery have proved. So, how does the vertical evolve to the next stage and help Lotteries drive further engagement and increased funds for good causes?
According to IWG CEO Rhydian Fisher, the answer lies in innovation. “We’re continuously exploring how we can add to the player experience in terms of the games that we develop,” he says. “New and emerging technologies consistently appear that are set to add a whole new dimension to the vertical, allowing us to steadily and effectively improve the user experience.”
The instant win provider is developing new games that incorporate augmented reality (AR), which is already being used across various forms of entertainment thanks to advancements in technology. In the lottery space, Fisher is hopeful AR can help close the loop with retail in a very meaningful and exciting way.
”AR has come of age and will soon offer an incredibly engaging and entertaining experience for instant win players,” he says. “Players will simply view the retail ticket with the Lottery’s mobile app, and a digital version of the game will emerge from physical card allowing them to play the AR version of the same game – seamlessly mixing the real environment around the card with the online experience in a way that is huge fun and totally new.”
In partnership with leading AR developer PlayFusion, IWG is set to release its innovative Cash Buster AR game later this year, providing an alternative form of gameplay to its already successful Cash Buster series.
AR is just one area of innovation which IWG is currently exploring. In response to the emerging sports betting market in the U.S., the company has developed a brand-new product for North American lotteries—instant win virtual sports.
IWG have already forged a partnership with Inspired Entertainment and recently developed the new game ‘Endzone Payout.’ The gameplay sees a virtual football video clip played with a prize table popping up, and if the result of the video matches an outcome in the prize table, the player wins the matching prize.
Fisher explains that instant virtual sports are an ideal way to introduce players to sports betting. “The games add a completely different, extremely rich gameplay experience to the instants category, which also helps Lotteries to engage with a new and passionate sports audience,” he says.
The Michigan Lottery will be the first to go live with Endzone Payout just ahead of the Super Bowl, with the Lottery’s Deputy Director of Digital Operations, Shannon DeHaven, excited to capture some of the fever that goes with one of the world’s biggest sporting events.
“Endzone Payout is the type of innovation we are looking for at the Michigan Lottery and we cannot be more excited for its launch,” says DeHaven. ”The game is so unique that we do not have another like it in our portfolio. It is the perfect complement to our online product offering and we expect that it will appeal to a wide market in Michigan.”
Gameplay isn’t the only area where innovation can improve the player experience. An imaginative approach to the prizes themselves can be just as effective. IWG is now offering ‘money can’t buy experiences’ as an alternative to cash prizes, which not only create more winners, but also offer inspirational prizes that Fisher says will showcase lotteries on social media as a place where dreams come true.
“Focus groups continuously report that younger players seek exclusive experiences and social credibility, and the lottery is in a unique position to provide that,” says Fisher. “These prizes resonate with younger players much more than the generic picture of a winner with a giant check. It’s something that the console gaming industry has used with tremendous success.”
Through its partnership with Extraordinary Experiences, IWG games can now offer a prize structure aimed at providing lucky players with experiences they can share with friends and on social media that they will never forget. “Unique prizes, like being backstage at your favorite band’s gig, also create hugely valuable social media equity for lotteries to use. Regularly and very publically demonstrating to new players that the lottery is a place which changes lives and creates winners every day,” adds Fisher.
While many of these innovations are directed at enhancing the player experience, this can only be achieved as a result of platform improvements. IWG has remained committed to innovating its ‘Progressive Play’ platform and are constantly working to update and improve what the platform can offer customers and players alike.
Simon Bucknall, Chief Operating Officer at IWG, states that the company’s open and flexible approach at platform level is what sets them apart.
“We have focused on pushing ourselves to deliver a better player experience through our platform and we have dedicated a lot of time and resource to deliver these improvements.
Product innovation is what gets our customers excited but it’s worthless unless you can back it up with the level of reliability and integrity that lotteries demand.”
IWG recently introduced the ability for third party developers to integrate their content and are also adding multi provincial progressive jackpots that will offer massive prizes. “We’re constantly looking at ways to improve our internal processes to make sure we have speed to market and the flexibility to update our games when required. Being able to respond quickly to our customers is something we have a strong reputation for and we think it’s a vital asset for any game developer. We have to be prepared for anything!”
Through constant innovation at both front and back-end operations, IWG is set to bring an exciting new gaming experience to the instant win sector and help lotteries attract new players. Watch this space.