Interview with Hannah Farrugia from AvatarUX

Posted on: January 19, 2023. Last updated on: January 19, 2023 Realcasinocanada Avatarux interview

Hello, Hannah and welcome to the Realcasinoscanada’s Q&A session. We appreciate you taking the time to respond to our questions.

Tell our audience a little bit about yourself, your experience in the iGaming industry, and the history of AvatarUX.

It’s great to get the opportunity to speak with you and thanks for showing interest in AvatarUX. I’ve been working in tech and product management for over 11 years and have been in the iGaming industry for four years working in game development and product management.

AvatarUX was founded with a vision where player experience is at heart of product development, so much so that “UX” is in the name and is a core part of our identity. The history of our product is very much formed around the slot mechanic engagement, following the massive success of PopWins in games like CherryPop™, we have been iterating on features and new mechanics with games like PiggyPop™, MonkeyPop™ and CritterPop™ apart from further improving on PopWins itself.

How would you describe the company’s approach to the new tendencies that the gaming industry has faced in recent years?

We are very receptive and look into how player’s preferences develop over time, the changing player demographics, market opportunities and competitor landscape. The market is quite exciting and when we think about developing a new feature or concept we look at it from different angles and form it into something that we believe players will enjoy. We’re very lucky to have an amazing team that is constantly pushing the boundaries of what can be possible. Just looking at the past year in the beginning of 2022 and looking forward to another amazing year, we’ve come very far in a short amount of time – and this is very much driven by the desire to put out an even better game each time.

What are you most proud of accomplishing at AvatarUX?

The team has been working very hard in different ways at accomplishing exciting games and UX. I’m very proud of us accomplishing our game MonkeyPop™ in 2022 – not only because it was a success on the market, but also because it helped us kickstart new approaches to developing great UX as well as exploring different visual styles and Math profiles.

Monkeypop slot

To your mind, what core characteristics make your games stand out among others?

The core characteristic that makes our games stand out is definitely in our mechanics. PopWins™ has proven to be a success and a favourite among many of our players. Apart from that, an engaging flow of smooth animations, transitions and satisfying wins that lets players really dive into another world – Our games have a certain visual charm that makes them easy to love.

Nowadays, players are more informed than ever about variables like volatility and RTP. Do you think this is a problem for the slot machine industry?

Players are educating themselves more and more and this drives slot developers to become more transparent than ever with their game design and math profile. I don’t think it poses a problem for the industry because as long as studios are ready to adapt it strengthens the relationship between player and developer. We often post more detailed statistics and share these with our player community, not only RTP and volatility level, but even data on the probability to hit the maximum win or high win levels, feature hit frequencies and bonus-specific statistics too. Players have reacted positively to this information, and it just shows that they are taking a more in-depth interest in slots.

Do you have any interesting stories behind your productions? What is the process of game development in your company?

I’m very proud of working with an amazing team – every individual including the company’s stakeholders has a drive and attitude to achieve greatness. When we look at players and streamers playing our games, anticipating a huge win at the edge of their seat, winning, laughing and commenting on the game – we take this to heart and there’s no doubt that each and everyone of us genuinely cares about creating an entertaining experience. Sometimes we share some ideas for feedback, and I’ll never forget when one of our feedback participants fell in love with a concept idea we had, so much so that they kept asking us about it months later!

We start development by following an approach of pre production, where we discuss and brainstorm concepts, prototype them, then evolve them iteratively. When we’re happy with this, the game goes into a cycle where the game flow, art, animations, client and sounds are worked on.

Tell us a little bit more about your latest titles – HipHopPop™ and HelioPOPolis™.

HipHopPop™ takes place in a world of dance and rap battles, featuring some very catchy tunes. Players can experience two different features along with PopWins which are Synced Reels or Guaranteed Wilds. Each feature can be bought separately as a bonus. The game also includes a Super Buy which combines both features – this is where the win potential goes to another level. Thinking about unlocking a massive amount of ways with popwins, then landing a couple of synced reels and wilds in the same spin with an incremental global multiplier, greatly increases the probability to hit the maximum win of 50,000x the player bet !

HelioPOPolis™ is one of my favourites – set in an ancient Egyptian world with a technological twist to it. The best thing about HelioPOPolis™ is that the different features it has can all come together. When a player enters the bonus round they can pick which bonus round they’d like to play. The first, known as the “Big Sync”, includes huge 2×2 symbols and synced reels. The second “Great Wilds” features expanding symbols and random wilds. Things really get exciting if you manage to reach the maximum grid height in either mode through PopWins™. When that happens, all features from Big Sync and Great Wilds are unlocked and play together. Also, if players want to buy into all the features together from the get go, players also have the option to do that through our higher buy option.

HipHopPop slot

In your opinion, which release has been the most successful thus far, and why?

CherryPop™ has definitely been our greatest hit so far and for different reasons. At its core, CherryPop™ carries so much excitement and win potential that is attributed to the PopWins mechanic and the Gamble Wheel. The gamble wheel also has an option to grant extra freespins, with a maximum of 16 free spins, so that increases the chances greatly for getting a high win. CherryPop™ is also really easy to understand and carries a simple UX with a classical theme, which makes it appealing to the mass market.

What is your personal favourite title?

Personally I enjoy slot games that deliver some diversity in experience between different sessions because it keeps you guessing what’s going to happen next – and many of our games do this. My utmost favourite however is CritterPop™ which really fulfils this goal because of its bonus reward reel that draws a different group of rewards each time. It’s a different flavour of gameplay every session and we’ve seen players and streamers coming back to this game because of this.

How do you see the gambling industry evolving over the next few years? Will it undergo any big changes that could affect how the company develops?

In the short term I think the majority of the gambling industry and market won’t go through a massive change. However in some markets It’s evident that crypto casinos are quickly growing especially as more regulatory restrictions are introduced in different jurisdictions. So if we had to look at the slot game space in 2-5 years, I think we will see a difference in the ratios of market segments, where the crypto-market will grow stronger than ever.

For game providers, this can impact their product strategy – depending on which players they want to focus on.

Similarly as the spending power of different generations shifts, I anticipate player demands for personalised game features and gamification, social slot gambling and NFT gambling to increase.

What about your goals, ambitions, and priorities? In the nearest future, how do you anticipate AvatarUX developing?

AvatarUX continues to push itself to the next level, in the near future we’re looking at releasing more engaging games and mechanics and expanding our distribution to more operators and markets. My goals, priorities and ambitions are all set for making this happen.

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