Every casino game developer can wholeheartedly say that the question of what comes first – design or mechanics – has probably come to their mind at least once. It’s a question most developing teams tackle right at the beginning and the answer to that largely dictates the company’s whole portfolio.

But is there a right or a wrong answer? Some might think that amazing visuals are all it takes to winning the hearts of players. However, they might soon come to the conclusion that there must be a story behind the beautiful cover as well. Players might be captivated at first to play the game but once they realize there’s nothing much behind the visually gorgeous game, they’ll return to a visually subpar game that engages them with interesting mechanics.

Others might think that the valuable development time shouldn’t focus on design. Looks aren’t everything, are they? The game developer, believing in this claim, might focus on gameplay itself and create interesting bonus rounds that might even be one-of-a-kind. However, if looks are not enticing enough, the player might never even get as far as to activate those fascinating bonus rounds or they might not even play the game at all.

One can’t be without another

Many developers have fallen to the trap of this question and have either focused on creating supreme visual experience or fascinating interactive elements and cool bonus rounds. The result? They’ve realized it’s not possible to find success by focusing only on one or the other characteristic.

As with everything else in the world, there must be a balance. While looks are important and beautiful graphics are, without a doubt, one of the key ingredients, casino game developers have realized over and over again that players prefer higher payout rate to simply having a slot game with great graphics.

For example, NetEnt’s one of the all-time most popular slots is a very basic, classic video slot Starburst. Though not „ugly“, Starburst is nothing spectacular – just a slot game that features shiny gems. No animated characters or impressive soundtrack. However, it still maintains its position as one of the developer’s most played casino game in Estonia, all because of the payouts.

Same goes for another NetEnt’s classic Bloodsuckers. First Bloodsuckers slot had an impressive payout rate which was not just a theoretical number but really impressed players with great payouts in reality as well. In the hopes to recreate Bloodsuckers’ success, NetEnt launched a new modern version of the game, with better graphics – including an animated main character to spice things up.

The result was a great example of looks being subpar to mechanics: though the second version wasn’t bad at all, most players still found the original game to be better just because of the payout rate.

The moral here is simple: flashy looks can be good, but looks are not everything. The best developers out there realize that and they focus on first improving the gameplay and mechanics and then modernizing the graphics. Looks can’t get without mechanics and mechanics can’t get without looks – there must be a nice balance, in order to entice players and have them coming back for new gaming rounds.