Meet 4ThePlayer: A newly approved gaming studio that's shaking things up, disrupting the market, and bringing peak player entertainment to the US casino space!
If you're not familiar with 4ThePlayer, you soon will be. They are a cutting-edge games developer that creates show-stopping titles with innovative mechanics that focus on the user. Put simply; they are 4ThePlayer in every sense.
Founded in the UK, they hit the States earlier this month, gaining a New Jersey license waiver and their game content went live with 9K Yeti, which is already trending at top NJ online casinos.
This week we were lucky enough to sit down and put our questions to Henry Mclean, Co-founder, Commercial & Marketing Director of 4ThePlayer. Ready to find out more? Dive in and read all about it exclusively with Casino Cabbie.
Casino Cabbie: What is an NJDGE license waiver, and how did you get it?
Henry McLean: The New Jersey DGE Transactional waiver is the first step towards getting our license in New Jersey! It means customers can now put our games live in New Jersey - our first game, 9k Yeti, is live in all the big casinos, with more taking the game every week!
We are applying for a full license in New Jersey - it's not a quick process but a very exciting one, and we are glad we are now at the point where our games can go live!
We are also underway with license applications in Michigan and Pennsylvania, so hopefully, players in those states can enjoy our games soon as well.
CC: What's your roadmap for games in the US over the next year or two? Any big releases you want to tell us about?
HM: We have lots of exciting and award-winning games to bring to the US!
Our first game, 9k Yeti, is one of our top-performing games outside the US. 9k Yeti introduces our majestic, mighty, yet endearing Yeti to players - he brings a Snowstorm feature that can shuffle a losing spin into a win or improve a win. This feature is very popular with players - so much so we have incorporated it into 2 other games!
9k Yeti will be followed by 6 Wild Sharks and 3 Secret Cities.
6 Wild Sharks features ultimate player choice: players can buy up to 6 locked wilds on the reels at a time! They can also trade their free spins for locked wilds in the bonus, depending on how much volatility they want to bite.
3 Secret Cities introduces BONUS↑UP, the only mechanic in a game that actually improves your bonus potential the longer you wait for it to land - in 3 Secret Cities, you can get better bonuses if you don't hit them quickly. You also go on an adventurous exploration around 3 lost cities, and the further you go, the better the bonus potential. Your progress is saved on the server so you can come back and pick up where you left off at any point.
CC: Wow, BONUS↑UP sounds like an amazing mechanic, and it recognizes the issue of players feeling frustrated while waiting to hit a bonus round. We love that it turns this on its head and makes it a rewarding process!
HM: There's more, here's a small tip… whenever you finish a bonus, you have a better chance of hitting another bonus within the next 33 spins!
CC: What's unique about 4TP slots, and how will they wow US players?
HM: The thing that makes us different is our approach to game development and how we think about each game. We're not a slot factory, we are a boutique slot house, and we focus on each title to give it the love and attention it deserves before releasing it into the wild for players to enjoy.
All of our games have a fun innovation or twist that is designed purely with the player and their entertainment in mind.
The founding team are all big slots players ourselves, so we understand the special feelings you get when you find a slot you enjoy, just as we understand the painful moments to avoid - things a lot of other providers just don't get.
Every time we create anything, we ask ourselves, 'how does this improve the player experience, and is it fun?' if it isn't, we simply don't do it. We want players to have fun and create memorable experiences for their money!
One cool player-centric innovation in our slots is Big Reel Portrait Mode. This uses up to 85% of the portrait screen rather than the dreadful tiny 20% letterbox a lot of games offer (if they offer it at all - we've all seen those 'rotate device' messages!).
CC: What slot trends do you see hitting the US market?
HM: We watch global trends; we are based in the UK and are new to the US, but we look at what works everywhere and how we can learn from it. At the end of the day, a good game is a good game - although we appreciate theming appropriately can massively impact country-specific performance. Going back to trends, we think player choice is a key trend and so we have embraced it in our games. Players now expect to be able to interact with their slots. The offline casino world has been doing it for years but online is just playing catch up.
CC: How do you react to new slot trends, and how long does it take 4TP to turn a game around?
HM: As a team, we play a lot of games - we have a slot session every Friday where we spend a few hours playing the latest releases, commenting on what we like and spotting any emerging trends. We also spend a lot of time talking to players, casinos, and the media to learn about what they want and what they see out there.
In terms of how long it takes us to build a game… the time from initial conversations to final certification and go-live is around 12 months. That said, every game is different - we do not have a cookie cutter or conveyor belt.
CC: What are the biggest challenges to entering US markets, and which states are next?
HM: The biggest challenge is the licensing process and the costs associated with it. That said, we are big fans of player protection, which is what licensing is ultimately about. Licensing also creates opportunities as there are not so many slot providers in the US as in Europe!
CC: How hard do you feel it is to get a space in casino lobbies as a newer developer? You've strategically used different distribution agreements as a way into other markets (Yggdrasil, Relax, etc.). How do you feel about this element of the industry and the effect on innovation for smaller studios?
HM: It is very hard - there are more game developers than ever, which is why you need to be doing something different. We use Gaming Realms in the US, and outside the US we use the Relax and Yggdrasil platforms as well. We do that because we don't have our own platform, which lets us focus on making amazing games that stand out.
Seth Godin put it well when he said:
"In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is failing. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible."
4ThePlayer is a challenger brand - we want to disrupt and bring peak player entertainment and fun to the US casino space!
If you, like us, cannot wait to sit down and spin a 4TP slot, then here are the casinos we recommend you check out - you can start by trying 9k Yeti play at BetMGM!