Meet the Slots Creators – Triple Edge’s Mike Bauerlein Interview

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Discover the world of online slots: Inside Triple Edge Studios

As you continue to explore the world of online slots you will see that the range of content available seems almost infinite. So how do you differentiate one game from another?

In this interview, we caught up with Mike Bauerlein from leading online slots developer, Triple Edge Studios. He gives us his ‘behind the scenes’ perspective on what it’s like working for Triple Edge, how to create a hit game, what separates their games from the crowd and more!

Tell us a bit about yourself. What makes you, you; and why have you chosen to work at Triple Edge Studios?

My background is actually quite varied and covers a few different disciplines that has worked really well for me in regard to coming into the slots industry in general.

I have an undergraduate degree that specialised in digital arts and sciences. My studies were mostly based around computer science and programme development mixed in with a raw passion for art. I have a master’s degree in Interactive Entertainment, which is something that usually leads to a career in the video game or film industry.

I first started working for Triple Edge Studios in 2015, back in the Flash programming days. I was actually one of the first few employees, something I’m really proud of as I’ve really been able to grow and develop with the company. I chose to work for Triple Edge because it gave me the chance to be part of something from the ground up and allowed me to use my skills in a fun, fast paced industry.

My current job title is a rather unique term in our company and it’s something I grew into. I head up Market Readiness and Logistics. Programme Management is my main responsibility but with a heavy focus on technical development and creative design, which are both areas that I’m well experienced in, leveraging these enables me to ensure our games are developed to the highest level.

We love big wins, so please tell us about some of the biggest payouts from your games?

We had so much fun developing Absolootly Mad: Mega Moolah for Microgaming’s progressive jackpot network. Everything about the game is fun and quirky, and having the record-breaking Mega Moolah jackpot baked in is undoubtedly a major attraction for players. We launched the game in May last year and have already seen three huge jackpot wins on the game – the equivalent of €2.6 million, €2.9 million and €6.5 million! I should also mention the €1.1 million win on Sisters of Oz™: WowPot in March this year, as that was from WowPot’s second-tier jackpot, the Major.

You have an impressive slots portfolio. Can you name the three best games you’ve produced to date?

We were delighted with the performance of a range of our titles, particularly Book of Oz, Lara Croft® Temples and Tombs™, and Assassin Moon.

2020 was a challenging year for all of us. Even so, Third Edge had multiple releases. Which slot takes the 2020 title of the best release?

2020 was a tricky year for us all but I’m really proud of how we adapted to the times as a company and as an industry. I’m happy to say we were still able to see some great success stories last year.

Our best-performing new game of the year so far is Assassin Moon, which is doing well across all key performance metrics. It’s a unique game allowing players to know what’s at stake right away, developed to include our new HyperHold feature and as all the players of that game will already know, ‘All roads lead to HyperHold’! It’s such a fun game, allowing players to shoot for the moon, I had a great time working on this. I’d like to say that the success of this game was a big surprise but to be honest, we almost always have an idea of how successful a game will be upon release. However, even by our standards, it’s done exceptionally well and continues do so.

Looking to the future, what is the next major release Triple Edge is planning?

Ancient Fortunes: Poseidon is due for global release in May and we’re all very excited about this one. It’s our first Megaways game, a great innovation in gaming that runs on a ground-breaking mechanic, a real milestone moment for us. We have very high hopes for this one, so stay tuned!

In a market with hundreds of game studios, what would you say is Triple Edge’s biggest differentiator?

I think there’s a couple of things that help to differentiate us from the crowd.

Firstly, our exclusive distribution deal with Microgaming. I think this helps players to be confident that they are going to get content and a gaming experience of the highest standard. Providing dependable, global access to our content.

Secondly, I believe our style of games also helps to separate us from the crowd. At Triple Edge Studios, through extensive research and pure passion we’ve been able to find the right balance between innovation and iteration. This means that we find successful game mechanics that have been proven in the market and then add our own innovative touch to create the best player experience possible. Striking the balance between something that feels new and something that is fondly familiar to our players.

Ancient Fortunes: Poseidon is a great example of this. Megaways is an already winning formula but now with the added jackpot, we’ve been able to give our own fresh take on it.

We would love to hear more about the slot creation process. Can you let us know which is the most exciting part of the entire process when creating a new slot?

There are many parts of the process that I really enjoy. The part I most enjoy is the stage after all of the initial legwork for the game has been done and necessary assets have been created. It’s at this point we then get to test the game and put it through its paces, usually via an internal office tournament to see who can get the biggest win! We have a leader board in the office, it gets quite competitive at times but it’s really fun because it gets everyone involved.

More importantly, it gives us an opportunity to log any issues and get feedback from the wider team so that we can refine the game even further and ensure the game provides the absolute best player experience possible.

What about any inside cool stories, do you have something to share with us about the team?

Something which I think is really cool is our (Pre-Covid) team Cross-Fit sessions on the beach. We’re lucky enough to have our Florida studio located directly across the street from the beach. We, of course, take full advantage of that and have sessions together twice a week. I can’t wait until we’re allowed back outside, post lockdown, so we can start them again, it’s so great to be able to keep fit with your teammates. A perfect opportunity for us to let off some steam and have a laugh at the same time!

How can you tell if an online slot is going to be a hit or not?

We believe that creating a hit game is all down to the numbers. Every game we design is based on sound mathematical principles. We have an in-house team of mathematicians who are able to de-construct the mechanics of a game and from doing this will be able to know whether it has the right ‘bones’ for a successful game. Then we can be sure if we have a hit on our hands or not.

I do recognise the importance of having a strong theme and visuals for a game, these are also vital aspects to consider but to ensure a more sustained customer journey, what’s critically important is having the right number of bonuses and near misses to keep a player engaged. Understanding the delicate balance of RTP and game volatility are the key parts of a more long-term math profile. This is what I believe makes a hit game.

What are your hobbies?

I love to keep fit, so l do a lot of working out at the gym and cycling. This was obviously pre- Covid when we were allowed out of the house. More recently, I’ve really enjoyed playing the Nintendo Switch, my favourite games at the moment are Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Hades. Two games that I’d highly recommend to any readers, who might also be budding gamers.

What has been your biggest challenge and your most significant success in the gambling industry?

A continuing, but not necessarily negative challenge is the changing legislation in our industry. New regulations are coming into play all the time and at an increasing pace, especially in emerging markets. This is something that we must remain aware of as we continue to innovate our games and ensure our portfolio remains compliant for all markets. This has the potential to impact our company roadmap, but we recognise the importance of regulation and so we’re keen to adapt along with it.

A big success has been the continued improvement of our complete product pipeline. We’ve made great progress in developing our relationships with industry stakeholders, especially with the operators and most importantly, the customer. This has really helped in improving the take up of our games and I’m really excited about the future.

If you weren’t in the gambling industry, what other industry would you want to work in?

I think my skill set would probably overlap with the needs of a lot of development houses, regardless of industry. But because of my love for games and interactive entertainment in general, I would have to choose the video game industry. It would be great to work on the development teams for some of my favourite Nintendo titles perhaps.

However, I would add that one drawback of the video gaming industry is that it has a stigma for having massive churn. Hiring is based more on a project-by-project basis, which means you don’t get a chance to really grow within a team and be part of something. That’s why I like working at Triple Edge Studios so much, we’re like a family and we grow together. Longevity is the key and most important part of it all. I’m looking forward to what the future has in store.