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The integration of AI technology is set to usher in a new era in iGaming, according to Evolution CPO Todd Haushalter.

Speaking at a recent networking event in Malta, Haushalter revealed that in a recent experiment, one of Evolution’s development teams was able to create as much as 80% of the artwork for a new slot game using the AI tool Midjourney.

 “Just the finishing touches were done by hand,” he added.

Midjourney is a generative AI programme created and hosted by Midjourney Inc., an independent research lab based in San Francisco.

Midjourney generates images based on natural language descriptions, referred to as “prompts,” in a manner similar to OpenAI’s DALL-E and Stable Diffusion.

“AI is definitely here to stay, and we all need to embrace it,” Haushalter said.

He highlighted AI’s ability to unlock a wide array of possibilities and use cases, ranging from SEO optimisation to fraud prevention and detection.

In the highly competitive game development industry, Haushalter has forecast challenges for smaller game studios over the next two years.

He explained that the economics of being a small studio with minimal distribution or having to endure platform fees to bolster distribution, is a big obstacle to overcome.

Furthermore some bigger studios release one new game per week, crowding the available space on casino apps, especially when combined with their superior distribution.

The best is yet to come

Nevertheless, Haushalter remained optimistic about the future of slot game development, asserting that the “best game is yet to be created”.

Addressing the competitive landscape, Haushalter acknowledged the barriers to entry are relatively low particularly in slot development, while the barriers to success are very high, and they are even higher in live casino.

He pointed out that even a small group of individuals can come together to start a slots company and establish their own niche, whether based on geography or player segments. 

In live casino, on the other hand, a massive organisation is needed with expertise ranging from video production, to stopping card counters, and everything in-between.

As larger companies grow, Haushalter cautioned against complacency, suggesting that they can lose focus, which creates opportunities for new companies to enter the market.

Ground for innovation

Looking ahead, Haushalter predicted that many games developed for the online realm will find their way into land-based casinos, noting that traditionally it was the other way round, with popular land-based games often inspiring online adaptations.

These developments mark an exciting time for product development as the convergence of online and land-based gaming creates a fertile ground for innovation, in his view.

Earlier this year, Evolution hit the headlines when it unveiled its biggest new game show since Crazy Time with the launch of 1970s-inspired and disco-themed Funky Time.

The development of Funky Time involved the collaboration of nearly 100 individuals, making it the most elaborate and costly game ever created by the company.

While typical game shows take around nine months to develop, Funky Time’s production spanned nearly 18 months, highlighting the extensive effort invested in its creation.