VegasSlotsOnline News Talks to Skywind Director of Content and Innovation Matthew Oberg

  • Oberg says the desire for high-volatility slots has increased and themes are more creative
  • Skywind makes slots that will become a player’s favorite game, according to the exec
  • Upcoming release The Ripper combines an immersive, grisly theme and big win potential
  • Oberg says Skywind will soon release a bird-themed game called Toucan Wild in June
Skywind Group
VSO News has spoken with Skywind Group Director of Content and Innovation Matthew Oberg to find out about new game, The Ripper.

Founded in 2012, Skywind Group is now at the forefront of online slots innovation, priding itself on its passion for creating engaging, evocative experiences. The company now has a portfolio of more than 200 games, many of those making it into VegasSlotsOnline News’ Slots of the Week.

a game based around one of England’s most notorious murderers

The most recent Skywind slot to make an appearance in our weekly slot roundup is The Ripper. It’s a game based around one of England’s most notorious murderers that uses cascading wins to determine payouts. We loved its features, along with the gruesome visuals which include Jack the Ripper himself.

Ahead of the title’s release next week, VSO News caught up with Skywind Director of Content Matthew Oberg.

What is your day-to-day role as Director of Content and Innovation?

We have a couple of internal studios and then external studios that we work with as third parties. My role is to make sure that we have different streams of content and a high level of quality across the board. Plus, I decide on the general roadmap of what we’re releasing.

I am working with affiliates, making sure the clients have everything they need to push our games. Then I also work with the design and development teams to make sure we’re pushing the content forward both in terms of performance and features to ensure we’re making games that everyone wants to play.

Have you been a part of the gambling industry for long?

I’ve been in the sector since 2014. I was at Aristocrat for two years, then Pragmatic Play for about four and a half years. Now I’ve been with Skywind for about a year and a half.

Since 2014, have you seen much change in terms of what slots players want from games?

Yeah, I think one of the biggest things is volatility and the range of it that players are willing to accept. The Eastern European countries still love the low volatility level slots, but more and more we see a range of more volatile games. Obviously, the buy feature was a big game changer a few years ago and it really allowed players to get access to the really big average win features quickly, which we see a huge amount of play on.

You can now produce a high-quality product quite quickly

We’re also going down new avenues in terms of themes. We’ve seen that if you do create some pretty ‘out there’ features that are well produced, people will latch onto it.

The time to create games is also coming down because we have better tools now. You can now produce a high-quality product quite quickly and have a lot of impact with innovative ideas.

Does it make it easier that the walls are down and you can be a bit more creative with themes?

I would say it’s easier in the sense that operators are more open to these ideas because they’ve seen that they can work. But I never really felt held back by that.

In 2019 you didn’t really have buy feature games at all. That was a weird thing back then. Same with cluster games. The crazy ‘out there’ ideas could be just a candy game, 7×7, that has clusters. Now, to create something really unique is a lot more difficult.

One important step we have taken is partnering with SlotsMasters. We distribute through their platform because they’re creating something that you can really say is unique and different.

In terms of game design, what sets Skywind apart?

We always design games that will be someone’s favorite game. This is a key psychological element. To have something that is really sticky for long term, you need to make sure that someone will have this as their favorite slot. They need to be excited to open it up.

I aim to have a mix of progressive mechanics and instant wins

To make this a reality, I aim to have a mix of progressive mechanics and instant wins. For example, in this Ripper game, we have both the progressive multiplier on the symbols and an instant win, because if you get two massive wild stacks expanding, which will keep cascading during the free games, that is going to result in a lot of money.

We’re also building themes that are different enough in our style and concept to make them unique from existing slots. There are only one or two other Ripper slots, so it’s easier to make this unique. But even for a fruit game – if we were going to make one then it would have to have a unique art style or some other factor that makes it stand out.

If we look at The Ripper specifically, what makes it different to slots in your portfolio and others out there?

The game is super immersive with some really interesting characters, and The Ripper himself is on the expanding Wild, he’s in your face. The most immersive part is the sound though, even on the buttons, and this matches up with the visuals perfectly. If you happened to use a pair of noise-cancelling headphones while playing you would be completely immersed.

The Ripper slot reels by Skywind
The Ripper by Skywind

In regard to the actual mechanic, we went with the cascading 4×6 anyways game. The expanding wilds act with the multipliers and the mystery, so players can expect to get combinations of these all the time. You really only need one or two of them to line up in your favor to get a nice win. As I said before, the wins are nice here because you can get instant wins or growth wins, even within the spins.

even on the first spin you still have multipliers that can assist you in getting a big win

For the free games, you have a 5,000x max win and once players land one of the sticky expanding wilds, you will see that potential really easily. Those multipliers will grow, but even on the first spin you still have multipliers that can assist you in getting a big win. If you do get the two wild expands on reels three and four, you can go for five, six, or seven cascades while you’re getting multipliers. It’s really satisfying to watch. Then the mystery symbols come in as well to help you out.

It’s such a great theme for a slot. Was it difficult not to overstep the mark and make it too grisly?

Actually, one operator didn’t like it because they said it didn’t push the boundaries far enough. It was a conscious decision though. For me, I don’t think the shock value is enough to get players invested for the long term. Here, we have gone below the threshold of gore to keep it appealing. It takes you to a heightened sense of suspense instead, rather than just going for the shock value.

After The Ripper’s release on May 25, what else do you have lined up?

We have a game coming out in June called Toucan Wild. It has a brighter, softer theme and a lot of wilds, so watch out for that!

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