Developing games for online gambling establishments is undoubtedly a complex yet simultaneously captivating and quite profitable endeavor. It’s no wonder that there exist so many game development studios in the world dedicated to games for gaming parlors. If you’re an attentive observer of the market or at least keep up with the news on a slightly deeper level than the average person, you may have noticed that the number of such developers only continues to grow over time, rather than decrease. Studios become quite large and are present in many online betting clubs literally within 3-5 years. And those who have managed to stay in the market for 10-15 years are considered mastodons today. What else could this be if not a clear indication that such a business is lucrative? That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide on creating games for houses of gambling so that our readers, business partners, and clients can consider whether they should venture into this business direction after reading it.

Introduction

A casino game is a distinct business proposition developed by companies specializing in supplying games to online gaming venues. It’s a separate piece of software added to gaming venue catalogs for their punters through technological integration between the developer’s servers and the gaming venue’s servers.

To develop it, companies need a pool of knowledge and people with specific specializations, where each will play the role assigned to them. This involves designers, developers (coders), computer system engineers, graphic and sound artists, testers, data analysts, as well as support staff (lawyers, accountants, mathematicians, physicists, marketing specialists, monetization experts, social media managers, copywriters, support, technical, and servicing staff). Everything is overseen by the managers (owners) of the company. As a result, the teams working on game development are mainly technical specialists in the IT field, each with their own specialization. So, the development studios are essentially IT companies. 

The number of personnel involved in game creation can vary greatly. If the studio is small, for example, operating as a startup or focusing on niche games without the goal of expansive growth, the total number of personnel can be 5-10-20 people. There are many examples when it all started with just 2 people! Typically, these are the founders of the company who then hire more people as it grows. 

However, large companies that have outgrown the “studio” stage can have hundreds or thousands of employees, among which, for example, there can be 50-200 developers. Such monstrous companies already know perfectly well how to develop your own casino game and this article is not for them. Read it if you are a startup or at the stage of contemplating your business, or are interested in how game development for gaming venues works in general.

First and foremost, any development is creative. And even more so — game development. After all, to do everything right, you need not only to be able to come up with and develop concepts of how the game will look, but also to understand its RTP, game mechanics, design, and what innovations will be in it. To do this, you need to study and understand the market, punter preferences, and current trends.

Dive into the process of launching your casino game

Concept Development

To develop your own casino online game, start with concept development.

The concept of a game is what the game is about and what format it has (or gaming variety; for example, slots are significantly different from bingo, or blackjack from crash games). Next, what its theme will be (that’s especially relevant for slots), and sound design. The game mechanics are, for example, in the case of slots:

  • the size of the playing field
  • the presence and number of special symbols and their behavior (exploding, substituting, sticky, increasing winnings, triggering bonus games, etc.)
  • whether it will be regular spins or cluster play
  • whether there will be mini-games within the game and what they will be
  • in-game purchases
  • maximum bet sizes, the presence of auto-spin, and other settings.

Also, at this stage (during further development), a mathematical model is developed that calculates the probability of winning, RTP, and volatility. Or one of the existing models is applied (if any).

Ideas and concepts for all these things can arise either spontaneously, as a result of targeted brainstorming, or as a result of the ongoing work of the company’s creative department. Most often, it’s a mix.

Once the best ideas have been cherry-picked, in order for them to be developed, market research is conducted to see if there is already such a game exactly or, if there are similar ones and how they are structured. Today’s realities are such that in the world of online gaming venues inventing something completely unique is no longer possible (at least, at this stage of technology development). Therefore, the team working on a new game should ensure that the game does not end up looking like a plagiarism of an existing game from another studio. For example: the Cluster Play was a conceptual novelty in the slot market once, becoming the fresh replacement for the mechanics of regular spins of individual reels. But now they are considered common and not new anymore.

Feedback about the game-to-be-designed is also collected from acquaintances, friends, all stakeholders, and other people to understand what can be improved or additionally implemented.

After conducting market research, the game concept is elaborated in detail to become a roadmap for its implementation at the programming, design, and artist work levels.

Design and Development

During the design stage, the “mundane” methodological work is done that determines all aspects of the game:

  • interface
  • detailed rules
  • detailed description of the game mechanics and mathematics (and, if necessary, physics)
  • description of its functions and the behavior of its gaming elements
  • bet sizes and payouts, and more.

All this comes together in a game design document (GDD) — such documents are standard in the game development business. There are even working templates that can be downloaded from the Internet and used either as a ready-made canvas for filling in or, at least, as a good starting point for creating your own document in your company.

Based on an example of GDD developed and used by the Unity Company for non-gambling games, a comprehensive template for the gambling sphere may be elaborated, which might include the following content:

  • game name
  • genre
  • legend/glossary
  • main and auxiliary game elements
  • number of punters simultaneously
  • technical specifications (2D/3D graphics, camera angle, available gaming platforms, user devices and their operating systems, programming languages and frameworks)
  • description of physics, mathematics, RNG, RTP, and volatility
  • gameplay outline (start, development, options, brief summary (story), modes, levels, punter control elements, victory options, loss options, conclusion)
  • detailed description of gameplay (main, additional, auxiliary, etc.)
  • description of graphic and video design elements
  • description of sound design elements
  • key advantages of the game, interesting for punters
  • description of the technical and visual behavior of game elements
  • game flowchart (a visual of how the different game elements and their properties interact: objects, properties, and actions)
  • detailed description of punter and gaming venue behavior
  • detailed description of the interface (UI)
  • localization (geo, languages)
  • guidelines for designers and developers
  • legal restrictions
  • compliance.

There are also auxiliary specifications associated with the GDD on the market that can be used to get more details of what is included in the GDD sections. For example, what is included in the UI description or in the guidelines for designers and developers.

Once this document is created and signed by responsible persons in the company, it is green-lit. Depending on the company’s working processes and the number of personnel, additional documents may be created based on it. For example, business requirements that are further transformed into technical requirements (or the business requirements stage may be skipped for good). Or the GDD may be directly sent to all responsible developers, designers, and artists who start working on the parts that concern them.

During the development stage, which is the most important part and the most technologically complex in the whole process, the actual creation of the game occurs at all its levels: prototyping, programming (coding), creation of visual, video, and audio elements, and technical testing.

Different software is used for all this. Particularly, for coding and compilation, these are typically used:

  1. Programming languages: C++, C#, JavaScript, HTML5, TypeScript, Phaser, and others that are operated in various programming environments, such as Visual Studio, Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, Sublime Text, Atom, Xcode, Unity, Unreal Engine, or Phaser Editor. 
  2. Version control software: Git, GitHub, Bitbucket.
  3. Compilation (technical “assembly” or “packaging” of all elements into a single coherent piece of the game): Unity Build Settings, Unreal Engine Packaging, Xcode, Android Studio, Steamworks SDK, and others.
Study this guide to find out how to develop your own casino game

Graphics and Sound Design

Graphics are what immediately catch our attention. If we don’t like it, we won’t play, right? 

Game engines (graphics basis) are created using Unity (fast and flexible) and Unreal Engine (for the most realistically looking interfaces, especially the modern Unreal Engine 5, which as of 2024 is capable of rendering visualizations indistinguishable from the real world). Here, in addition to the visual component, game logic, user interface, game mechanics, behavioral patterns, and cross-platform compatibility are also developed.

To work with individual graphic elements and their animation, besides the engines, various programs are used, such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Blender, Autodesk Maya, Substance Painter, ZBrush, and others.

Sound is also important in gaming venue games, although not all punters actually turn on the sound during the game. Pro Tools, FL Studio, Audacity, Wwise, FMOD Studio, and other programs are used for sound recording and processing.

Sound takes on special importance in immersive games, such as live games and video slots, where a special atmosphere is created largely thanks to the sound, complementing what is happening on the screen in the visual part.

Many game providers have their own distinct visual and sound styles when creating games. Some stand out for the better, while others may not. Some may prefer games with fantastic graphic detail, while others may be fine with standard. The style of sound and graphics depends not only on the programs used and the cool things that can be created in them but also on the style of the specific artists hired for the project and the limitations of their knowledge and skills.

Integration and Testing

After completing all the developments described in the two previous chapters, testing takes place. The software used for testing includes Unity Test Framework, NUnit, xUnit, TestComplete, Selenium, and others.

At this stage, all bugs, inconsistencies, poor functionality, glitches, visual, auditory, and logical errors, and everything else that shouldn’t be in a good game are identified. Gameplay, win results, and everything else is checked, too, to ensure that the game runs smoothly after deployment on the production server.

After successful testing, all identified issues should be fixed. This is a normal stage of the technological process, so time is initially allocated for it in the overall development project plan.

The same specialists who developed the game — designers, programmers, artists, and others — are involved in fixing all the identified bugs and glitches.

Upon completion, retesting is scheduled, where additional problems may be discovered and addressed. Ideally, after the second iteration of fixes, no new issues should be found (in reality, there may be more iterations, of course).

The final technical step is deploying the game, meaning it appears in the world as a new commercial product ready for punters to use. Deployment platforms include Steam, Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Kongregate, Facebook Instant Games, proprietary websites, cloud storage, or other platforms — depending on the company’s strategy and legal restrictions. For example, Google, Apple, and Facebook companies adhere to fairly strict restrictions on gaming venue games and gaming venues themselves, only allowing those that are fully certified according to national legislation of specific geographies and licensed according to iGambling rules in that geography.

Start crafting your casino game concept today!

Regulatory Compliance

Unlike regular mobile or computer games, which are primarily limited by the OS version and the power of the punter’s gaming device, gambling games are about, well, gambling, that is, making money bets for the game outcome. And that means they are subject to legal restrictions, which vary greatly from country to country around the world.

The legal landscape in specific geos can generally be classified as follows:

  • Complete prohibition of gambling
  • Full permission for gambling
  • Everything in between.

In the second and third scenarios lies the devil, as they say, because it is in the detail: there are no two identical countries or territories that have absolutely identical restrictions and permissions for gambling. In practice, this can manifest in the following ways:

  1. What types of gambling (games or directions) are allowed and which are prohibited.
  2. Operation of online gambling clubs: yes/no/conditional. The same applies to other forms of money betting: sports, lotteries, horse racing, dog racing, keno, or bingo.
  3. Whether anyone or only the state operator is allowed in the local gambling market.
  4. What is allowed and not allowed in attracting and encouraging punters.
  5. What can and cannot be said in advertising and promotions, and where they should be placed.
  6. Restrictions on the gaming of minors or vulnerable categories of gamers.
  7. Requirements for national licensing of gambling operators and games.
  8. Requirements for self-exclusion and self-withdrawal, AML, and KYC.
  9. Opportunities for working with payment systems and cryptocurrencies in specific geos, and other aspects.

Depending on this, when developing a game, all possible options for restrictions and limits imposed on the game in specific geos must be considered. Depending on this, it may be available, unavailable, or restricted in a specific country or territory. And this will determine where it can be placed in some gaming venues (and the price of this game in a specific geo because of that).

Read this article-guide to discover how to create your own casino game

Marketing and Promotion

Marketing for a new game can be the responsibility of the developer or a specific gaming venue. We’ll delve a bit deeper into advertising new games in the “Monetization Strategies” section below: it depends on which scheme the gaming venue uses to acquire the game.

In any case, the market and people therein need to know about the new game release. And for this, a marketing strategy for game promotion must be developed. If the gaming venue or developer lacks experience or relevant personnel, the task can be outsourced to a hired agency. Typically, the marketing strategy includes the following issues:

  • Defining the target audience
  • Branding and positioning
  • Planning online presence and promotional activities: information on the developer and/or gaming venue website, social media, viral marketing, offline advertising, influencer marketing, email marketing, paid adverts, etc.
  • Participation in targeted offline and online events
  • Community engagement
  • Including the game in various gaming venue promo programs: tournaments, bonus programs, VIP levels, progressive jackpots, etc.

A budget for promotion should also be determined, depending on the marketing strategy (or vice versa, the strategy may depend on the existing budget).

Remember: if nobody knows about the game, nobody plays it. That’s why you often see promotional information about new games online, including on the websites of houses of gambling and game developers.

Launch and Post-Launch Support

Launching a new game in any gambling establishment should be preceded by an informational campaign, as we just discussed above, to create buzz around it. Along with this, support should be provided for people who want to learn more about the game and for punters who may encounter difficulties while playing it. Support can be provided by both the gaming venue and the game developer (together or separately), which helps to quickly resolve issues and build customer loyalty towards the gaming venue.

The game can appear as an offering within the gaming venue’s game catalog or as a standalone offering in the form of its own app, available for download on mobile app stores of Google and other companies (if permitted by legal and other restrictions of the specific geo and the game itself).

When and if the game becomes popular among punters, it makes sense to release its sequel or some kind of upgrade (for example, themed decorations — Christmas, Easter, etc.). The sequel can be appended with “2”, “3” (signifying a regular linear continuation) or “Megaways”/“Cluster pays” etc. (indicating a change in gameplay mechanics), or make a cross-teaming with some other popular game (for example, combine your hero or ambiance with the concept of the game Gonzo’s Quest). There are many options for development in terms of continuation — get ideas about it through brainstorming or on the Internet.

Monetization Strategies

When you create your own casino game, it’s natural to develop a method of monetizing this game. In today’s market, there are several ways in which monetization occurs (that’s how studios making games for gaming parlors earn):

  • Licensing for use. The developer grants a specific gaming venue or aggregator company a license to use its games in the game catalog (here, geo-restrictions are usually set for various reasons, such as legal). When a specific game is added to the catalog, even if no one plays it, the gaming venue pays for its presence there. It’s the venue’s responsibility to promote it in the market to popularize its use.
  • RevShare. A portion of the revenue earned by the gaming venue from punters playing this game goes to the developer. Typically, it’s determined by a percentage.
  • Direct sales to gambling houses. The development company releases new games hoping that they will be purchased by gaming venues in a lump sum. Direct sales allow more room for creativity since they impose fewer restrictions on what the game should be. Payment for the game is made by the gambling house only once, and thereafter it pays nothing for its use.
  • Custom game development for gaming venues. Large gaming venues quite often order custom developments from various game suppliers. For example, to place their branding in the game, showing its exclusivity, giving their punters the feeling that this gaming venue is premium. Here, payment is made for a specific service, which is several times or an order of magnitude higher than the price usually set by developers for a regular game product.
  • White-Label solutions. Sometimes, particularly large studios develop not only games but also entire infrastructure solutions used by gaming venues as ready-made products to run their business. These solutions combine a full-featured gaming venue platform, including a website with a game catalog from this company (possibly joining games from other providers), a back office and front office for gaming venue employees and managers, reporting systems, punter registration, deposit and payout systems, monitoring, anti-fraud, KYC, AML, and more. In this case, payment for games is just part of the payment for using this large solution, the support of which is provided by the developer, leaving the gaming venue itself only to focus on its core operations.
  • In-game purchases. Even those who have never thought about how to create your own casino online game are familiar with the concept of in-game purchases: in mobile games, one can buy some achievement, skin, upgrade, boost, or unlock an unavailable level. It’s roughly the same with gambling games: purchases directly in the game, without going to the gaming venue’s store, buying free spins & currency, or participating in a tournament organized by the development company or the casino itself. How profits are divided in this case is a matter of agreement between the venue and the developer.

To understand what works best in each specific case, developers and gaming venues need to gather feedback from punters, implementing improvements and suggestions.

Things you need to know to develop your own casino game

Conclusion

Developing a new game is a complex endeavor that requires a team of dedicated individuals focused on results. A large company can release over 20 games a year, with a team of hundreds or even thousands of people onboard. Meanwhile, a small studio is doing well if it releases 1-2 games every six months. Nevertheless, it’s a promising business direction that, with proper development, can yield good dividends and recognition within the community of game designers.

Transform your casino game concept into a masterpiece

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