Meet the Slots Creators – Yolted’s Thomas Rhys Jones Interview

Posted by: Alexander
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Tell us a bit about yourself. What makes you, you; and why have you chosen to work at Yolted?

I’m Tom and I joined Yolted in 2021 as CEO. I’ve been working in the gaming industry for about 15 years now, where I’ve worked at operators, games studios, and technology providers from around the world.

After working with numerous different aspects of online gaming, I was always interested most in the games themselves.

For me, they are the most creative part of the industry and allow me to be involved in an expressive and innovative environment.

The team at Yolted has a lot of passion for the games we make and wants to do something different and truly unique, working in specific markets, so I jumped at the chance to get involved.

You have an impressive slots portfolio, can you name the best three slots ever released by Yolted?

Our biggest titles to date are Vampires Gone Wild, Note of Death, and Slot Girlfriend ‘Amane’ (aka SlotGF 1)

2021 was a challenging year for all of us. Even so, Yolted had multiple releases. Which slot takes the 2021 title of the best Yolted release?

For Yolted, 2021 was a great year. We saw growth of every type and were able to hone our methodology when it came to game creation delivery, from both a technical and operational standpoint.

We’re still a young company but have a lot of experience and know-how in the team, so it was a great opportunity for us to take all the things we’d learned, things we’d liked (or not) from past practices and create something unique with Yolted.

Personally, my favourite game from Yolted in 2021 was ‘Reels of Aion’, a high volatility game with an awesome ‘free spin charge’ feature that increases the number of free spins and multiplier awarded for any ‘dead’ spin during a player’s session, meaning bigger wins in the bonus round.

I think it’s a really cool feature and rewards persistence when playing.

Looking to the future, what is the next big release Yolted is planning?

We’ve got a lot planned for the coming year. Although I can’t share too much right now, we’ve got 12 games coming in 2022, released on the first Friday of every month and there are some brilliant games coming up for our Japanese and emerging market customers.

We had our first sequel game, ‘Slot Girlfriend Alice’, released in February that was well received after the success of ‘Slot Girlfriend Amane’ and was happy to see the innovations and improvements from the first game resonate with the players using the feedback directly from them and the operators we work with.

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

We’re very specific with the types of games we create and the markets they target.

Most studios create games with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, but that’s not something that will work with markets like Asia or Latin America, where many of the operators are starting to penetrate, so for us, it fits well. Unique mechanics and advancement in technology is in our DNA and we’re constantly looking to push the envelope.

There’s a totally different culture and expectations within a slot depending on who they’re created for, so we can’t expect games created from a European mindset to be successful in markets they don’t fully understand.

It’s something we’ve excelled at, working with local specialists to get the games right for the players and have seen some great success as a result.

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?

It’s similar to creating a film or video game. There are so many moving parts that go into creating a game, be it narrative, art, maths, development, etc. everything must come together from numerous sources to deliver a top-quality game that people enjoy and want to play.

For me, there are many points along the journey that are creative and exciting. Yolted has some incredibly talented and creative individuals, but an idea or game concept is one thing, the execution another entirely.

Ideas go back and forth constantly and are ultimately distilled down into a working concept that may end up being very different from the original idea. It’s exciting to see the games evolve during the creation process.

I would also say that when you see the game for the first time with all the parts combined, you really understand how it’s taking shape, and it’s in those final stages where you conduct final tweaks with pacing, music, etc. and see the game come to life and get to experience the final product.

What about any inside funny stories, do you have something to share with us?

I’m lucky to work with a great team who I speak with daily. It’s not been easy for a lot of people over the last couple of years being away from a co-working environment, but we’ve put a lot of effort into making working either from home or the office as fulfilling as possible.

A lot of the fun and positive atmosphere we have at Yolted is because we encourage our teams to be as creative, honest, and open and it’s something I’d always support. Our game creation brainstorming sessions can come up with some wild ideas!

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

There’s no set formula unfortunately, you just have to be continuously aware of trends, technologies available and understand what the players really want, and make sure to deliver. Having access to more comprehensive data points, feedback, and local knowledge has meant that we’re able to distill the elements into better features and better games that we know will work.

There has been a tendency in the last few years for games to be created for the casinos, rather than the players, which is a trend that I don’t fully agree with. Keeping the player in mind is key for any game to be successful, as they know what they want and will vote with their feet – if they don’t like a game, you’ll find out very quickly.

Did you use to play slots before entering the iGaming industry? Can you share with us your biggest win on an online slot?

(you don’t have to name the stake, just the multiplier and the game is more than enough)

I grew up in the UK, so slot games have been part of my life since I can remember, and I remember seeing them go from the games you play in the pub to something that you can play anywhere at any time.

I didn’t play much before getting into the industry more directly in 2008, but Playtech’s Marvel slots catalogue caught my attention, and I had my first ‘big win’ playing ‘The Incredible Hulk’ but can’t remember the exact figure as it was more than 10 years ago now!

What are your hobbies?

Outside of work, I am a gamer and a huge film buff.

If I’m not staring at a screen of some description, I’ll probably be on a hike with my wife.

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

Honestly, there are too many to mention, both positive and negative in the last decade and a half.

From the abrupt closing and now reopening of the US markets, the boom, and bust of poker, sudden changes in regulation, adapting to working from home, mergers, acquisitions, traveling the world for conferences, the emergence of crypto, working with some of the smartest and most ambitious people you could ever meet, the list goes on and I wouldn’t change a minute of it.

My focus is on Yolted and I’m incredibly proud to be able to bring our games, personality, and team into the public domain.

Everything has been painstakingly crafted to represent who we are as a company and what we want to achieve through our games.

We’ve been working so hard for the last 18 months to get this right and have been delighted to see the results so far, and long may that continue.

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

Probably something to do with video gaming, film, or music. I love anything to do with creativity and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in entertainment and that forms a big part of my life outside of work.

Oddly enough, I used to be an accountant, but I can’t imagine doing anything else but gaming after 15 years!