Step by step: the making of an online casino game

Online gaming is big business these days – especially in the gambling space, which is estimated to be worth around $60 billion worldwide. With so much competition out there, there’s unprecedented pressure on game developers to create titles that are more engaging, immersive and high-quality than ever before.

But how do they continue producing leading titles time after time? Well, they require a strong team, a robust process and the right people to help bring their gaming visions to life. Let’s take a look at the end-to-end stages of game development, and the work that’s required at each step.

Step One: assembling the development team

When designing any casino game – whether it’s a slot game or something like poker or blackjack – the first thing the developers will do is assemble a suitable team. Usually, this will consist of a game designer, creative team, web developers — server and front end — a mathematician, a games tester and a project manager. Combined, this teams possesses all the skills it takes to develop a successful game, including the web development skills and creative skills to make the game work and make it appealing to users.

When it comes to teamwork, anyone who is creating an online game might do well to take a leaf out of Yggdrasil’s book. This igaming solutions provider, which was founded in 2013, has teamed its games portfolio up with the online gambling operator 888. This collaboration now means that 888 customers have access to Yggdrasil’s casino slots and the operator can use Yggdrasil’s promotional tools to facilitate further player engagement and retention. It’s a cooperation that should lead to further success for both parties.

Step Two: researching and conceptualizing the game

Next, it’s all about the ideas. The development team must have some sort of vision of the kind of game they want to create. To this end it’s important to carry out thorough market research to find out what games are already out there, what’s popular and what’s not, as well as collect demographic data to see who is playing games. Usually, they’ll have a target audience or demographics – perhaps even a particular user persona they want to reach out to.

This comes in handy when brainstorming and conceptualizing the game because they can harness the research to develop something new and distinguish their game from the rest of the market. If there are lots of history-based games already, for example, they’ll need to incorporate a new twist to make the game more appealing.

Ultimately, the market research can determine everything from the visual design of the game through to the time it takes for a bonus game to launch. A development team will pay close attention to the research so that they don’t make the same mistakes as any they might perceive their competitors to be making.

Step Three: characters and visual elements

Once the team has decided the type of game they’re going to create, it’s up to the creative team to address the visual elements of the game and bring it to life. There’s lots to consider. Developers must think about the object of the game and the story behind the game, which will determine the mood. Is the game more serious and calling for more realistic characters – possibly in 3D — visually? Is there more of a playful element to the game — which would entail more whimsical graphics?

One of the other things to consider when developing the visuals is the brand itself. To keep the visuals (and the game itself) consistent with the brand, the team must have a deep understanding of the brand’s identity and values. If the game features a pop culture tie-in such as a film or a specific musician, the game creators will have to research key parts of the movie and the main characters or, where the musician is concerned, the music and image. Then, of course, they need to get the concept sign-off from the brand.

Step Four: establishing a variance system

Of course, as well as playing for fun, online casino players are playing for money, so the development team must think about their target audience and establish the right variance i.e. the level of risk involved when playing the game. This is to prevent players from becoming disillusioned with the game. The variance should link back to the target audience because each level of variance suits different types of player – from people who are there for their love of a game, to others who want to win some serious cash.

Each game will either be:

  • Low-Risk Variance, which pays out low jackpots but features lot of combinations that allow the player to win easily. Games with low variance will work well for players who want to play for a long time and really immerse themselves in the storyline of the game.
  • Medium-Risk Variance, featuring both high and low jackpots. They appeal to players by offering opportunities within the game to win extra money and with bonus features. These games will attract people looking to make a bit more money, but they can also encourage to spend money fairly fast if the game hasn’t been going their way. There are more of these games online, which means the operator faces tougher competition.
  • High-Risk Variance, which offer large jackpots and feature progressive jackpots and multiplier symbols. Players can win more money on these than with a low or medium variance game, but there are less chances of a payout.

The variance level will be selected based on the target audience. Whichever one the developers choose, it’s underpinned by a random number generator (RNG) which keeps everything fair by simulating the unpredictable outcomes the players would expect in a real-life casino game.

Step Five: testing the game

This is a hugely important stage in game development. The only way game makers can know if their game has been a success is to establish a few metrics and then measure the game’s performance against them. Normally, these are the amount of money the game generates, the game’s popularity and its ‘stickiness’ (which means the amount of time players will spend playing the game in one session and the frequency they return to the game).

Ideally, the games tester will have identified potential issues before they occur so that the technical team can fix them before setting the game live. To keep things running smoothly, however, the game makers will follow trends so that they continue to offer a good gaming experience as technology evolves. This involves adapting the game to suit new browsers or new platforms, not to mention new rules or regulations regarding online gambling, and more.


With so many online casino games released every week, it’s easy to forget the levels of effort that go into creating each and every one – from the research through to the design, implementation and publication off the game online. But it’s worth it. With such competition, game developers want to do anything they can stand out in this crowded market, and deliver the very best user experience.

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Last Updated: Mar 20, 2019