Interview with PearFiction
PearFiction is a slot game development studio based in Montreal, Quebec. They focus on engineering immersive RNG games for huge industry players such as Game Global. Their games often showcase endearing characters, original game mechanics, and math models.
Please introduce yourself and your role, as well as PearFiction Studios.
Hi! I'm Thierry Semoff, founder and CEO of PearFiction Studios. I've been in the iGaming industry for about six years, starting in 2016 when we switched from making mobile games to online casino games. Although I wear many hats as CEO, my primary responsibilities are to lead the studio's game design, pipeline, and direction.
Just to understand your studio's caliber, can you give us examples of your casino operators and integration partners?
Because we work exclusively with Games Global, we have the advantage of working with pretty much the entire industry thanks to that one integration. As a global supplier to the industry, their reach is mammoth, which means so is ours. As for the caliber of our games, I'd say the numbers speak for themselves - we've enjoyed some great successes to date, and that's a testament to the top-quality product we're developing.
To date, which of your slot games has been the most successful across the board, and what are the reasons behind that success story?
That would definitely be Squealin' Riches. I think the game theme is great for attracting players' attention in the lobby and encouraging them to investigate the title.
We know players like "hold and re-spin" style mechanics, so that's exactly what we gave them with the LockNWin™ mechanic. It's a fantastic, immersive bonus feature with a long playout time that really keeps players engaged. We're giving players what they want, plus we've added our own PearFiction twist with special upgrades, including multipliers and increased jackpot wins.
"Treasures of Kilauea™" is your next new release - why should we all go give it a few spins? How much work has gone into it?
Treasures of Kilauea is our first foray into the persistent type of features. So, every ten spins, you collect sticky Lava Frames on the screen, meaning they remain on the reel. Then, the Lava Frame feature is triggered on the tenth spin, and they become "wilds."
We've also added a special event on the 50th spin. Essentially you collect these frames on the 10th spin, and on the 50th spin, on top of this, the Eruption Spin Feature is triggered. The volcano will erupt and give additional wilds in the form of lava balls that land on the reels.
I like to think of the game as more like a metronome, and that's what's good about it. Everyone knows that on the 10th or the 50th spin, they will trigger a feature. This encourages player retention and increases engagement and thrill on each spin. I think that's going to be something that's going to be very popular among players.
Some of the frames you saw in the base game come back into the free spins game. The free spins game has a volatility picker that increases spin choice based on the amount of scatters landed on the triggering spin. Players can pick their optimal balance between free spins and guaranteed frames, from 5 to 45 free spins and between 5 and 10 guaranteed frames.
Playing as well with the success of Squealin' Riches, we have introduced a fun animated main character: the volcano that's ever-present on the screen. It reacts with its smoke puff and spews out lava balls. It even snores and gets sleepy when you don't play! I think it's a nice little touch that players will like.
We like to build games based around characters, especially knowing that the pig in Squealin' Riches is what helped make that game so popular because people just loved that little piggy. What we've done with the volcano is, rather than just have a static image of a volcano sitting there to the side of the reel set, we've made him very, very interactive. If the game is idle for 30 seconds, you'll hear the volcano snore, puff, pant, and blow bubbles, and we absolutely love it! It's a great, great addition to the characterization of the volcano. We hope these little things will make this game engaging and popular.
How many slot game ideas does your company have each year, and how many do you get to work on and launch?
Ideas come in every day; we have three, four, or five different types of mechanics concepts that we're working on. We're also looking at the games that come out weekly to see what's popular and trending. We then develop our own ideas, injecting our PearFiction spin to enhance the concepts behind these mechanics.
I'm a frustrated game designer because I would love to have the time to design hundreds of games, but it's good that we take the time to innovate and explore these ideas. We mock up some of these concepts and play test them. Some proceed to development, and others do not. Eventually, that serves as the filter to come up with a great game about every two months at the current pace.
In terms of production, it's easy to understand why a studio would concentrate on outputting tons of games. But at PearFiction, we feel that although you might have tons of great ideas, it's better to spend the time developing them, exploring innovative and engaging ways of keeping players engaged - in every aspect, from the math models and mechanics behind the scenes to the art direction, soundscape, and animations. This ensures we are consistently outputting good quality, high production value titles.
What is PearFiction's development process from ideation to QA and launch?
I would say nearly a dozen people work on any given slot game. The way we're set up in production, we have three squads. Each squad is composed of a game project manager and a producer pushing the game's vision. We have a lead game artist, the lead developer, developers, artists, and lead QA. So, all in all, you have between five and six people per team. But in terms of the design, we then have a team of four people, including the mathematician. So, if you include them as well as the squad, you're up to around ten people participating in the production of a game.
Your studio emphasizes very immersive and artistic experiences. Do you think the marketplace is flirting with oversaturation? How can studios like yours beat the "yet another slot game" issue?
It's getting tighter and tighter, although the industry is growing. Studios are getting better, games are getting more interesting, and production quality is also increasing.
Where we want to be is producing really high-quality games. Games that have depth. Games that have a story to draw players into. We're not a one-feature type of studio. If there's a bonus game, there'll be more than one option. We give players a choice, which also means depth in the number of features. That's where we want to be.
Responsible gambling is key to a sustainable and thriving iGaming industry. What would you recommend a new development studio to pay attention to when it comes to responsible playing?
To begin with, weave responsible gambling into the very ethos of your business. Make it a factor in every decision you make. We try to do this on the design side of things; we pay a lot of attention to the survivability of bankroll in our games. It's important when designing the math to give players fun and entertainment for the money they put in.
Players are investing in our games, so making the features and wagers unmistakably clear for players is important. What they're playing for is another way for us to make sure that everything is clear to a player. We also adhere to GambleAware, so we take a certain portion of our budgets every year to give back to that as well.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. Can you share with us PearFiction's plans for what's next?
You're very welcome, and thanks for hosting me! I hope your readers have enjoyed the insight into what PearFiction is all about.
We're incredibly excited about what's next on the horizon. The team is working hard on developing some exciting new content, and we can't wait to bring it to market. To find out what's coming next from PearFiction Studios, keep an eye on our socials or head to www.pearfiction.com.