Bigwinboard sits down with NetEnt Director of Games, Bryan Upton, to talk about the new InfiniReels™ mechanic
The launch day for NetEnt‘s new Gods of Gold InfiniReels slot is finally here, a game that’s made the headlines for several reasons. New NetEnt arrivals are always highly anticipated, but what makes this game particularly newsworthy is the controversy surrounding its game mechanic – InfiniReels. It’s a story so confusing that we had to sit down with NetEnt Director of Games, Bryan Upton, to sort out what is what.
Before we begin, here’s a bit of backstory. In November 2019, Aussie developer ReelPlay released a new slot called El Dorado Infinity Reels. Powered by an innovative new mechanic never seen before known as Infinity Reels, a new reel is added to expand the game area on every win with essentially no limit – hence the name, Infinity Reels. Around the time ReelPlay was preparing to launch their second slot in the series, Giza Infinity Reels, NetEnt announced the upcoming release of Gods of Gold InfiniReels.
To say we were confused would be an understatement. Not only are the two similar by name, but mechanically as well. Testing the game for our review, it became increasingly hard to think that this would all be just some crazy coincidence. Had ReelPlay licensed their game mechanic to NetEnt? When we began to do some digging, we learned that a trademark was filed by NetEnt on September 19, 2019 which made things even more confusing. The tables had suddenly turned. Was it ReelPlay, after all, that had snatched the idea from NetEnt?
In any case, NetEnt and ReelPlay eventually came to an agreement to settle the case and strengthen the rights of both parties associated with their respective trademarks. Just a couple of days later, ReelPlay announced that their version had become an export product with Relax Gaming being their first customer. With that cleared out of the way, let’s hear what Bryan Upton himself has to say about this.
Bigwinboard: Hello Bryan! First of all, congratulations on the 2019 Bigwinboard Game of the Year award which went to Dead or Alive 2. We’ve seen so many insane hits on that game. It’s just unbelievable!
Bryan Upton: Thank you. We’re delighted to receive such an honour. We put a lot of time, energy (and blood, sweat and tears!) into creating our games and when slots fans are as passionate about our games it makes all the hard work worth it. It’s always tricky making sequels, especially when the original DOA was one of our most iconic games of all time. But we agree – we think we nailed it too!
Bigwinboard: So, what we want to talk to you about today is your new video slot Gods of Gold InfiniReels which is set for release on May 14. What’s particularly interesting about it is that it will feature a new game mechanic of yours known as InfiniReels. Can you explain to us how it works?
Bryan Upton: Gods of Gold: InfiniReels is a huge launch for NetEnt. The game is the first to feature the InfiniReels mechanic, which brings infinite bet ways to the gameplay. This game starts with 27 ways and is multiplied by three each time a reel is added. To spice it up there are wild substitutions, second chance re-spins to keep those streaks going, and multi-reel slams in the base game. The bonus game brings Win Spins, a guaranteed win on every spin, on top of those base game features that come into play as well. It’s a beast of a game!
Bigwinboard: It hasn’t been without some controversy, however. Oddly, there’s already a similar game mechanic on the market known as Infinity Reels from developer ReelPlay. You have to admit that it looks a bit more than coincidence. Two very similar game engines, both with similar names developed by two different studios. We’ve been dying to get an explanation. Is there anything you’re able to say about all of this?
Bryan Upton: We can completely see why it looks that way. It was a surprise to us that ReelPlay was also developing a similar mechanic, but great minds think alike, as they say! But genuinely the two studios were independently creating something similar and that’s why, when we became aware of ReelPlay’s plans, we both handled it in a transparent and sensible manner between us. It’s great because it strengthens our respective products and positions together.
Bigwinboard: Ok, thank you for setting the record straight! What differentiates your version of the mechanic from ReelPlay’s would you say?
Bryan Upton: Both mechanics work on the principle of adding reels on a game outcome, so there is where the similarities are most striking, but it really comes down to, as always in games design, what are you designing each game to do and how are you using the mechanic? God’s of Gold, our first InfiniReels game, is an explosive paytable for players who like a very volatile experience.
We wanted to bring focus and anticipation on those OAKs with the multi-slams and second chance respins to keep those OAK streaks alive and paying really well. We didn’t want to disappoint in the bonus so that’s where the concept of Win Spins instead of Free Spins – where each spin is guaranteed a win to ensure the players get a chase at starting some big streaks. We’re really happy how it turned out and excited for the release of InfiniReels and its first game.
Bigwinboard: There was a press release stating both companies had entered an agreement over the IP rights of their respective game mechanic, but no details were mentioned. Whilst we understand why such an agreement might be necessary, we’re a bit curious to learn what it means for both parties.
Bryan Upton: It was necessary to issue the statement in order to explain the situation to the market and remove any potential for confusion now or in the future. NetEnt and ReelPlay wanted to ensure that the industry – whether that’s operators, players, investors, or anyone else – understood that each company received the credit it deserved and that we have formally agreed to work together in preventing unlicensed use of our respective brands and IP.
Both parties felt an agreement was needed to achieve this and most importantly, to make clear that each party has the freedom to independently develop their respective brands, IP and game mechanics creatively and commercially while both remaining competitive in a very saturated market.
Bigwinboard: InfiniReels, is that something we can expect to see in future games of yours as well? You have to admit, Dead or Alive 3: InfiniReels, sounds pretty cool?
Bryan Upton: Ha ha! It sounds very cool indeed! We have big plans for InfiniReels, and we can’t wait for players to experience it with Gods of Gold and we are working hard to explore its full potential. It’s a game mechanic that we are confident will be popular for a long time to come. NetEnt fanatics can expect to see a lot more of in the coming months and years.
Bigwinboard: We know you guys are super busy creating all those awesome games for us slots enthusiasts, so we’re just going to ask you one last question. How do you guys feel about Bigwinboard.com. Do you ever discuss our reviews at the office?
Bryan Upton: You guys are a really important bridge between players and big slots developers like NetEnt. We’re happy that there are sites like Bigwinboard out there which share our enthusiasm for slots – don’t forget that we love them too – and let everyone know what’s happening. You guys are pretty tough, so if we feel we get a good review from you for those diehard slots players out there then we have probably done a good job. We always like reading your reviews of our games. Well, the good ones at least! 😊
Bigwinboard: Thank you for taking the time to speak to us Bryan. Hope we can do more of these Q&A in the future!
Bryan Upton: No problem – it was my pleasure.