The hidden success story of Book of Dead

Book of Dead from Play’n GO is probably one of the most popular online slots since its release in 2016. What was the secret sauce in its success and how did Book of Dead become one of the most visible product brands in the history of slots?

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This is the second article in our “The hidden success story of…” series – where we will be looking at some of the most popular online slots ever and give our view on why and what impacted the success of these games. In our first article, we analyzed Starburst, and today we are turning the page to analyze the key factors in the next big smash hit in our industry in 2016 – Book of Dead from Play’n GO.

The beginning of slots live streaming

To give you a bit more context of the success of Book of Dead we need give you some background about the history of slots live streaming. At the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, the movement of live streaming on started to emerge. Official statistics from Twitch show that in 2016 that they had a total of 292 billion total watched minutes on their platform generated by 2.2 million unique streamers.

During this time, Twitch was something new and exciting. Resulting in a trend where more and more people worldwide started to explore the aspects of putting their faces in front of the camera and sharing different types of content to reach new potential audiences. One type of content that was created was slots/casino related content. This was when streamers like CasinoDaddy, CasinoTwitcher, Rocknrolla, Roshtein, and LetsGiveItaSpin first appeared live streaming from their respective bedrooms and living rooms on, playing slots in front of the camera. This was the birth of the casino genre on Twitch.

As a fun fact, here is a post from CasinoDaddy’s first streaming setup from 2016.

A new type of affiliation & VODs

At the start of slot streaming, the first streamers most likely invested their own money to create casino entertainment on Twitch by using deposit bonuses on different casinos. As we all know – the house will always win in the long run – and streamers during this time needed to seek ways to make a living out of streaming.

Affiliation in the iGaming industry has always been heavily focused on SEO. Being in the industry since 2012 myself, back then, people have told me that anyone with expert knowledge in SEO should start an affiliation website, even if it might not be quite that simple. Looking at “traditional” affiliation companies today, we have AskGambler (established in 2006) and VegasSlotsOnline (established in 2013) having millions of monthly visitors – it still plays a very important role for casinos in acquiring new players.

The streamers became the “interactive community affiliates” back then. They started to use the streams to play slots and promote different casinos to their viewers by activating commands in the chat e.g. “!bonus”. The streams were later also used to generate traffic to their affiliate website, which included exclusive deposit bonuses and provide leads to different casinos. The casino streams started to become the new type of affiliate marketing window for casinos and a medium that gave providers brand exposure and player feedback.

Another important factor was the introduction of DVR/VODs on Youtube. Streamers realized quickly that the live streamed content could be edited into shorter engaging highlights videos that generated thousands of views on Youtube, which of course, also contained a link to their affiliate website. This is very much a thing today, but back then, this was the start of something new. Now streamers could start capitalizing on both YouTube and Twitch for slightly different audiences that generated NDCs to casinos – and at the same time, strengthen the awareness of online casinos in general. Here is a clip on Youtube from LetsGiveItaSpin on Book of Dead back in 2016 with almost a million views.

Book of Dead – The world’s first streamer slot

Book of Dead showed that it wasn’t to be yet another book-themed slot. It became something different, sure; the mechanics were very similar to Book of Ra from Novomatic. Which isn’t a direct secret. However, it offered something different in terms of beautiful graphics, engaging sound, and thrilling gameplay. It brought something new to the market and was released by a brand on the rise, Play’n GO.

The most significant reason for its success was the almost picture-perfect timing of its release in January 2016

Several key factors played a significant role in the success of Book of Dead, like great distribution, attractive bonus tools (free spins), and a strengthened brand reputation. Book of Dead also offered low bet sizes down to 0.1 EUR (even down to 0.01 EUR with only 1 line), which made the game more attractive for operators to use in their promotions. As a side note, it is also a slot many players use to clear their balance down to zero, thanks to the flexibility of setting your bet extremely low, myself included.

In my eyes, the most significant reason for its success – besides being a great slot – was the almost picture-perfect timing of its release in January 2016. This was exactly when slot streaming started to gain popularity and it was almost immediately picked up by streamers. And the streaming community instantly fell in love with Book of Dead. The main reason was that it had several key ingredients that sparked and made the slot fun to play but also extremely fun to watch. With high volatility and potential, the sudden excitement of hitting a full-line explorer, an amazing tease to trigger free spins, many variants of the bonus (random symbol expanding) and the epic battle of becoming the first to hit a full-screen explorer and winning the max win of 5000x in free spins on stream. Rich Wilde was introduced and his face became famous around the globe largely thanks to the streaming community.

To check it out yourself, just search for the term “book of dead big win” on Youtube and sort by relevance. You will find tons of videos uploaded based on Book of Dead, like this one from the huge German streamer Knossi, that have uploaded content with Book of Dead that has been seen by millions, on and off stream.

Knossi - Big win on Book of Dead on Youtube

Looking at live streaming and, more exactly, our numbers, since we started tracking product- and brand awareness on Twitch in September 2019, Book of Dead has had almost 300 million minutes in total reach till this day – which is a fair share of eyeballs seeing the brand. Below you also see a graph of how it ranked in 2019 and 2020.

Casinolytics Ranking – Total Reach

Between 2016 and 2020, the brand awareness that Book of Dead had generated thanks to the streaming community is astronomical. It’s crazy to even think about it and almost impossible even to try and put a number on.

To sum things up: timing, product quality, and having a great product-market-fit will certainly increase your chances of hitting a homerun. Like Play’n GO did.

I hope you have enjoyed this article, and make sure to check back next week when we will analyze Sweet Bonanza from Pragmatic Play and tell you more about “Why people watch other people playing slots on Twitch” among other things. Thanks for reading!

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