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Interview: Light & Wonder’s Craig Turner
Formerly known as Scientific Games Corporation (SG), Light & Wonder, Inc. is one of those market players we could barely imagine iGaming without. With recent rebranding and somewhat of a change in the development agenda, the company goes through one of the most exciting yet difficult stretches in a lifetime of a business. iGamingNJ’s team had a chance to talk to Craig Turner, Light & Wonder’s UK Creative Director and the person behind the development of our favorite game titles, about the future of the company, his favorite games, and the creative process.
iGamingNJ: Hi Craig. Please could you introduce yourself and tell us what you do at Light & Wonder?
Craig Turner: I’m the UK Creative Director here at Light and Wonder. My job is to design and deliver all of the content for our UK focused roadmap. We’re currently delivering 24 games over the next 12-month period which will specifically target the UK customer base.
Basically, I spend my days dreaming up new game ideas and playtesting them as they go through the production process. I’m still amazed it’s a proper job.
iGNJ: Please tell us about this transformation from Scientific Games to Light & Wonder.
CT: Very simply, it was a move to support our new focus on gaming. We sold off sports and lottery and are now a pure gaming business. Light & Wonder is the world’s leading cross-platform global games company. We are focused on creating new worlds of play by developing some of the most innovative content in the market. We are forward-thinking in terms of our platform which is like no other – it’s the biggest platform with the most partners and the biggest range of intellectual property. We are bold in how we approach our business and how we approach our content. For players who in previous times may have disengaged or switched off. Now they’ve got a reason to reengage and more importantly to stay.
iGNJ: How does Light & Wonder come up with an idea / plot for a new slot game?
CT: It varies. During a team call the other day we came up with this fantasy-themed idea. By the time we’d finished drawing it live on-screen, a mechanic came to mind, and we were thinking “we can do something with this – we can build something from this”. So sometimes it’s just that someone will have an idea for a mechanic, and other times it’s more that you’ll just want to make a game about, for instance, a dragon. Then you all just go away and approach it as a problem statement, and everyone will go off and come back with ideas.
There are four creative directors in the team and a collection of content specialists. We all go off and come up with ideas and then, every Thursday, we meet back and pitch all the ideas to each other. We then decide which one is the best and work on that.
iGNJ: What is your favorite game in the Light & Wonder portfolio and why?
CT: My go-to game is still Spartacus Megaways, math wise I feel it’s one of the best Megaways games out there. Base game wise it is quite volatile but the low hit rate into bonus (1 in 170) means that a bonus is never too far away, and it has the potential for some serious wins.
iGNJ: Can you give us an overview of Rainbow Riches Power Pitch?
CT: Rainbow Riches Power Pitch gives the customer the classic Rainbow Riches base game feel and adds in a huge 9 x 6 Hold and Win bonus round. We’ve thrown in multiplying hot zones, extra lives and an expanding reel array for extra value. Anyone lucky enough to completely fill the reel array will be instantly awarded 10,000x.iGNJ: Are there any new mechanics players can expect to enjoy?
CT: This is the first new release where we’ve added in Premium Play. Premium Play allows the player to spin a 1 line, 3 reel slot where you can win cash prizes or be awarded instant access to the feature.
iGNJ: Why do you think the Rainbow Riches experience has endured?
CT: Brand recognition is of huge importance in our industry and Rainbow Riches is a brand that even most non-gamblers would know of. Love him or hate him, the Leprechaun is iconic within our industry. So, if you’re a first time slot player and you’re about to play online, in the bingo hall or in your local betting shop you’ll pick the first game you recognize.
iGNJ: What are LnW’s plans for the future?
CT: The thing that I’m most excited about is our new Mighty Ways mechanic. Mighty Ways is a Ways game where for every winning symbol, the reels will increase in height, so it gives that ‘multiple ways’ feel to a game. We’re going to go big on that this year: we’ve done Cluedo Mighty Ways–which was a really strong game for us–but we’re going to go back and do 300 Shields as a Mighty Ways game. 300 Shields is just a crazy, volatile game, and what we’re going to do is have a super feature in that game that you can purchase for 1,600x that’s going to give you guaranteed 300x multipliers on every Spartan win. I was playing the sim for it yesterday; it’s just crazy and I cannot wait for it! 300 Shields is one of my favorite games of all time, so to go back and do that as a Mighty Ways game is really exciting.
We’ve got Invaders Mighty Ways coming out later in the year, and then I think in November we finish with Raging Rhino Mighty Ways.
iGNJ: What do you think will be the key talking points in the industry in 2023?
CT: I think we’ll see a lot of talk about max exposures within games, especially within the UK.
iGNJ: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
CT: I’m a bit of a geek and used to own a wargame shop before I got into the industry. I’m still pretty active in the hobby and spend my time painting and playing various games.
iGNJ: What job might you be doing if you could do anything not related to iGaming?
CT: I’m not sure I could be in any other industry now. In my days as a Tester at William Hill I just fell in love with the product and can honestly say I’ll be a lifer. But if I had to move on, I’d open a proper old man’s pub and fill it with fruit machines.
iGNJ: Thank you a lot for your time! It’s always exciting to learn more about the development of our favorite titles.
CT: It’s my pleasure! Hope it’s not our last conversation, I enjoyed this one quite a bit.