Few slots have stirred so much controversy (and hype) prior to its release as Nolimit City‘s highly anticipated San Quentin slot. Based on one of the most well-known prisons in the world, which has been featured in countless Hollywood movies, music videos and housed several notorious prisoners throughout the years, the game is like nothing else we’ve seen in the world of slots.
As if the freakish stats alone, which include 150,000x max win potential and a 2,000x bonus buy option, isn’t enough to make people talk, the imagery has been the subject of heavy debate here on Bigwinboard. Not so much the orange prison suits and the tattooed prisoner holding a shank, but an in-game image depicting a shower scene. We sat down with Nolimit inmate, and Bigwinboard member @nolimit-jonas, to talk about all of this and hear his version.
Bigwinboard: Hi Jonas, thanks for meeting up with us. You have a new game coming out called San Quentin xWays which has stirred up a heated debate in the Bigwinboard community even before its release. We wanted to talk a bit to you about that. Did you follow the discussions?
Jonas: Yes, indeed I have. I love the fact that a non-released slot game can stir up so many heated feelings. It’s not only being discussed on Bigwinboard, but competitors and industry peers are contacting me wanting to discuss San Quentin. I understand and appreciate people have different opinions, but as a slot maker we couldn’t be in a better position than we are right now with San Quentin.
“To players that think a nasty prison environment is too offensive I say; Don’t play San Quentin!”
Bigwinboard: So what happened was, you guys shared a screenshot from San Quentin xWays on Bigwinboard as part of a teaser preview, and quite literally s**t hit the fan. The image, which depicts what looks like a prison rape scene, offended some of the readers who felt you were making fun of sexual abuse. What’s your thoughts on that?
Jonas: What do you mean, I only see soap and some feet… Ok, seriously – imagine the movie The Shawshank Redemption, but you remove all the violence, sexual assault, murder and nasty inmates; what do get? Yes, you get Kindergarten Cop! I have nothing bad to say about Kindergarten Cop or people who like that movie, I’m sure some people think Arnold really pulled out his best performance there. It’s just that I prefer Shawshank redemption even though it’s a movie that has many horrible scenes that really makes you feel bad. I don’t think the movie industry (or the video game industry) has exclusive rights to show reality, even if it’s bad and unpleasant. Movies, video games, slots; we all work in the entertainment industry and we must entertain by using people’s feelings. Even if a slot does not hold as much story as a movie, I still think we should be able to do our best to create as much feeling around the slot theme we are working on.
To players that think a nasty prison environment is too offensive I say; Don’t play San Quentin! There are plenty of cute low volatility fruits slots I could recommend, and if you want to step it up and go crazy I’m sure you can find some mid volatility gem slots to play. Beyond that you should be careful, there’s a lot of high volatility slots with barbarians, vikings, devils, outlaws and other nasty stuff out there.
Back to the soap and the feet – can you use a hint of humor in almost everything? I say yes, if you do it in the right way. There is a border not to be crossed, but in this case, I think we are on the right side of it – at least according to us at Nolimit. We should also remember that our players are 18+, so I believe this gives us more freedom to balance on the actual border. Once again, if video games and movies are able to cross that border, why can’t we? Are we even crossing the border here?
Bigwinboard: Obviously, San Quentin xWays was deliberately meant to provoke and stir things up. Prison theme, tattoos, a guy threateningly holding a shank in his hand. It has this sort of GTA5 feel to it. Are you the bad boys of the iGaming world?
Jonas: The slot has extreme volatility and extreme potential, we are simply matching it with a hard-hitting theme and some nasty elements; for me it just makes sense. I’m not sure Nolimit are the bad boys of iGaming, but I know San Quentin will be a bad ass slot for sure. We simply do not have any limits at Nolimit.
Bigwinboard: Speaking of numbers, you guys also decided to include a 2,000x bonus buy option. What do you say to the critics who claim things like this may push regulators to regulate slots even further?
Jonas: An extreme bonus buy was bound to happen at some point and I’m not surprised Nolimit is doing it first. It’s in the Nolimit DNA to push whatever limits are out there, and this is what can be expected from us going forward. It’s either push boundaries or go back to making the cute fruits slots, but since our name is Nolimit, we only really have one option!
I welcome and respect regulations also regarding bonus buys. I don’t approve of any bans on bonus buys, they should simply be done right instead. A bonus buy is really just a massive bet on a lower volatility game round. It is the combo of max bet in relation to the bonus buy volatility that should be analyzed when regulating. I’m not sure where the limit should be drawn, but regulations should be followed, and the operators are welcome to set their own custom max bet limits which also includes restrictions on bonus buys. The operator has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that their players play responsibly and that the source of funds makes sense. I probably should also add that although we have a 2,000x bonus buy, all our extreme bonus buys are always capped to a max limit, including this one – so there’s a limit to how much one can buy a single bonus for. We set a default cap on 10k for any bonus buy, but our operators can change the cap value if they want.
Bigwinboard: We did buy quite a few bonus rounds during testing and did alright. Just so no one gets us wrong, there’s obviously great risk in investing 2,000x in a slot machine, but the way the bonus has been designed it seems almost unlikely to get 10 dead spins?
Jonas: You are right. San Quentin has bonus buy options of 100x, 400x and 2000x; volatility goes down as cost goes up. This is an intentional design, but it is also the natural behavior of something that has an extremely high expected payout. If you add in sticky wilds, multipliers and other cool stuff, it’s almost impossible not to get hits all the time, and you’re always getting something back from a bonus buy.
Bigwinboard: As if that isn’t enough to make people talk, the 150,000x potential is extreme as well. Can you really win that much, or are you pulling our leg? Tell us what you need to land in order to have a shot at that potential.
Jonas: When you are controversial you might as well go all in, right? Yes, it’s 150,000x max potential, and we actually got a few of those hits in our simulations. It also meant that we lowered max bet to 32 EUR. I think 4.8M EUR win is more than enough to win on any one spin.
Bigwinboard: You’re undoubtedly sticking your neck out with San Quentin xWays and it’s honestly quite exciting watching it all unfold – especially given all the reactions so early on. Are you extra nervous about this release?
Jonas: Yes, I’m very excited, the pressure is on. All this extra buzz on Bigwinboard makes it even more fun and exciting, your community is as good as it gets. But it’s still just a slot game, you never really know how a game will perform. However, if some dude hits 4.8M EUR in one spin, I’m sure at least 1 person will love the game!
Bigwinboard: San Quentin xWays comes out in January. What else do you have in store for 2021?
Jonas: Last year was great for Nolimit, we really consider it to be our breakthrough year. But we are not relaxing at all, we try to learn from 2020 and push it one more step in 2021. Current roadmap looks great, packed with extreme volatility games and some controversy. There will be a follow up to Tombstone/Deadwood before summer that I’m sure will be exiting for many players.
Bigwinboard: Thanks for talking to us, you may go back to your cell now.
Jonas: Thank you, and don’t drop the soap!