With all the talk of “cloning” recently, it’s easy to think that original ideas in the social gaming sector are getting increasingly hard to come by. And while there may be a finite number of ways you can represent particular styles of gameplay, that doesn’t stop some developers thinking of an interesting, original twist on an established formula. Such is the case with Team Slots from Product Madness, a new video slot machine game for Facebook. Unlike most other Facebook-based slots titles that focus either on personal gain or competition against friends, Team Slots adds a cooperative element to the format.
When starting the game, players are randomly assigned to the Red, Green, Blue or Yellow team. The assigned team is persistent for the player’s entire Team Slotting career, with no facility to change at this time. Wording on the official FAQ suggests this may be under consideration for the future and indeed it may provide an additional monetization opportunity for Product Madness — however, it also opens up the possibility of unbalancing the game if a large proportion of the player base suddenly decides that it wants to be on, say, the Blue team.
When playing any of the game’s virtual slot machines, the player’s individual accumulated winnings are tallied up and added to that of the rest of their team. Whichever team has the highest cumulative winnings between them at the end of a 30 minute round wins a gold trophy, with second and third place achieving silver and bronze ones respectively. At the end of a day, the team with the most trophies wins the daily competition, providing them with a shower of coins to spend on the next competition. The teams also compete for dominance over the course of a month, with bigger prizes on offer.
As players compete on the machines, they earn experience points and level up. Each level up provides a small coin bonus and, after certain milestones, unlocks additional machines for play. The higher-level machines have fewer players playing them, so individual winnings tend to have a greater impact on the team’s results as a whole. Potential winnings are also higher, so it’s often in a player’s best interests to play the highest level machine they can. Most machines work in the same way through the use of various-shaped “win lines” which players can turn off and on by increasing or decreasing their bet, so once players have the hang of one they can move to the others easily. However, those new to playing slots may find it initially confusing, since the in-game explanations of how the machines work are not presented very clearly.
A few technical flaws prevent the experience from being as polished as it could be, not least of which is the fact that the game runs very slowly even on a powerful computer. This doesn’t appear to be the fault of the game itself, which is presented in Flash like most other social games. Rather, it appears to be the fault of the real-time social feed under the game — each team has its own fan page on which both players and team administrators can post comments, and the feed from this page is continually updated beneath the main game window during play, allowing players to interact with one another. The way this feature is currently implemented leads to that part of the game page almost constantly refreshing itself, which creates constant loading, a flickering mouser cursor and poor frame rates. The issue could perhaps be avoided by refreshing only once every few minutes, when a player actually posts a comment or through a manual “Refresh” button.
Aside from this issue, Team Slots provides an original take on a simplistic game genre. The addictive nature of slot machines provides plenty of monetization opportunities from among those players who enjoy protracted play sessions and/or runs of bad luck. The slow income of coins from competitions, leveling up, individual winnings and a regularly-provided bonus will likely be enough for casual players, but those serious about their virtual gambling or contributions to the daily and monthly competitions have the potential to make the game very profitable. It’s a shame to see the game spoiled by the issues mentioned above, however.
Team Slots currently has 460,000 monthly active users and 60,000 daily active users and is still on an upwards trend after its launch in mid-December last year. To track it’s progress, check out AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.
An original, social and cooperative take on the slot machine genre with a user experience marred by technical issues and unclear explanations for new players.