At the latest Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, which is kind of like a Comic-Con for casino industry bosses and enthusiasts, there was one theme above all that connected the showcased games – celebrity endorsed casino products. Having casino games based on famous movies, tv shows and musicians is nothing new, and it sometimes works very well, but some of the stuff at the expo was just, well, weird.
For example, one of the big hits at the convention was the new Willie Nelson slot machine. For those not aware, Nelson has been a huge country music star, especially in the US, for the last 50 years. He is a big advocate of marijuana, a critic of Donald Trump, liberal activist and poet. For some reason, they decided to build a new slot machine based on the music of the 85-year-old counterculture icon.
Strange branding for 4D slot
Next up, there was one of the world’s first 4D slot machines. 4D technology allows you to interact directly with the slot game, controlling features with a flick of your eyes for example. But with such an innovative, revolutionary technology, how would you brand the new casino game? With some iconic superheroes like the Avengers? Batman? Star Wars? That’d be cool, right? Nope. They chose Sex and the City. A slightly-outdated 90s TV show is the branding of choice for what is expected to be a game-changing slot machine. Frankly, it’s a bit bizarre.
Of course, it’s easy to understand the reasons why developers of casino games choose some type of celebrity branding. In the past, casino slots were nearly all build with simple imagery – bars, 7s, cherries etc. – then later with symbols of luck, such as four-leafed clovers, Egyptian hieroglyphs and so on. It doesn’t make sense to keep building games with the same imagery. Moreover, developers will be aware that branding with famous faces works – it’s the reason you see celebrities hawking everything from perfume to credit cards on television.
Branding can be on point at times
However, that’s not to say branded casino games are bad. In fact, in many cases some of the best online slots are based on movies and television shows. For example, at Ladylucks Casino you will find spectacular slots based on movies like Planet of the Apes, Jurassic World and Jumanji. There are also games based on TV shows like Family Guy and Highlander, all of which have been officially licensed and branded. In most cases, the branding is not simply there for the sake of it. It’s not as if they simply stick Peter Griffin’s face on a slot machine and leave it at that. Rather, they incorporate elements of the show into the game, creating an enticing product for fans and a fresh experience for casino games aficionados.
In the end, as with movies, musicians and TV shows themselves, sometimes the casino games will be terrible, but other times it will be right on the money (both literally and figuratively). Jurassic World slot is a good example, as just like the movie it was a sequel of a beloved slot game. And, just like the movie, they hit the jackpot with a smash hit. The game, created by Microgaming, could be used as an example of why you should brand your casino games with icons of popular culture. With Sex and the City? The jury is still out.