In this fourth and final article in our “The hidden success story of…” series, the time has come to nothing less than Wanted Dead or a Wild from Hacksaw Gaming. Since its release at the end of September 2021, it has become almost synonymous with the streaming community. In this article, we will look deep into our crystal ball (and our data) to analyze the hidden success story of Wanted Dead or a Wild.
The exponential growth of casino streaming
The start of influencer marketing
At the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 we started to see more traditional influencer marketing entering the iGaming industry, mainly boosted when twitch.tv didn’t allow sharing affiliate links or referral codes to casinos in August 2021. Please remember that for influencers or streamers, the primary source of income has always been affiliation until this.
Today, many casino streamers are sponsored by different casinos to generate brand awareness for their respective brands on stream. In theory, this is how influencer marketing works – you pay an influential person to promote your brand. It can happen on Twitch, Youtube, Insta-reel, or in an outdoor advertisement, like when meeting George Clooney with deep eyes drinking a cup of Nespresso coffee. The possibility of earning money by streaming casino games and displaying casinos (brand exposure) on stream without an affiliate site is one part of the massive increase of new casino streamers.
The graphs show the total accurate reach tracked per month on the Casinolytics Platform.
On-the-go entertainment format
The second reason is simply that casino streaming is very entertaining to watch. The massive increase of viewers throughout the years shows that the format of on-the-go entertainment is something people like to watch. You can also read my previous article, where I cover more on this topic. Looking at 2022, when this article was posted, our AI successfully tracked over 13 billion minutes of watched casino content where a viewer has seen a product brand. We have seen over a 100% increase in total watched minutes year-on-year since the inception of casino streaming in 2015. The massive rise in viewers has impacted the visibility and high brand awareness of Wanted Dead or a Wild.
What did make Wanted Dead or a Wild so wildly popular?
Timing is one part for sure. With the wave of new streamers entering the stage on Twitch and Youtube, Wanted Dead or a Wild landed like a bolt out of the blue to the streaming community at the end of September 2021.
The next, and most important thing, is the almost flawless game design Wanted Dead or a Wild has that appealed to the vast majority of streamers. To truly succeed, you will need to have a product that caters to the needs of your intended target audience. If you don’t have a well-designed product intended for a specific audience – no commercial or marketing strategy will help you to succeed long-term, even if it might slightly help you short-term. Take any product; if you have a terrible experience, the likelihood of returning to that product is very low. So, what did Hacksaw Gaming do so well when designing Wanted Dead or a Wild?
Before digging into the details, I would like to share my first experience with the game. The reason in the first place for trying out the game was that Johan Sandén (my fellow co-founder) and I saw the game rise in popularity on Twitch. So we chose to give it a shot, and played the game together (through Discord) during one of our Friday-spin sessions in early October 2021.
We played for 50€ and didn’t hit anything in the base game nor didn’t trigger any bonus, so we chose to buy the “Duel at Dawn” bonus for 20€ for our last money. And guess what, we ended up empty-handed with 0€ in winning during the free spins. The important part here is; that we knew this could happen since we have seen it on stream, but for any other game, this might have been the only time you would have played it. It’s very much about managing expectations, and yes, Wanted Dead or a Wild is a game that can leave you empty-handed and at the same time can hit insanely big. Expectation management is key for players and streamers, hence why we have continued to play the game during our Friday Spin sessions.
Wanted Dead or a Wild is a very well-designed game with a close eye on the details – the aesthetics (subjective, of course), the sound, and the mechanics. Even if I personally really enjoy the game much thanks to that Johan and I hit a 2144x win in January 2022. Despite my own experience with the game, these are not my own subjective opinions – it’s based on thousands of hours of binge-watching casino streams on Twitch since 2017 and the data that our AI generates.
Appealing bonuses for streamers
Wanted Dead or a Wild is a highly volatile slot with three different bonuses. Already here, we are seeing something that triggers some of the motivational factors among streamers to play a slot in the first place:
The Great Train Robbery (Achievement) – A bonus game with sticky wilds and no multipliers. The goal is to ultimately to get a full screen of wilds. Perhaps not the most exciting for a streamer since it doesn’t include any multipliers, but it could be a nice balance maintainer.
Duel at Dawn (The unexpected & Achievement) – An highly volatile bonus game where your goal is to land full-reel wilds with two random multipliers on each wild reel that a gunfight will define. The VS-symbols you land, the more intense the excitement will be. The goal is to land a full-screen of VS-symbols which is something any streamer would like to accomplish on stream. The best part with this bonus is that even if you haven’t hit anything until the very last spin – you still have a shot – to create an unexpected moment. Another clever trick is not to use commas in the win presentation e.g. 1127312,00, throughout the game. Hard to read, right? This creates excitement for a blitz of second before both the chat and the streamer gets their head around the final winning number.
Dead Man’s Hand (The Grind & Achievement) – The rarest bonus in the slot and something streamers love to grind for. It’s exciting to watch first and foremost, and it’s straightforward – you collect wilds and multipliers in 3 spins. Every time you hit a wild or multiplier, the spins reset to 3 spins again. And so the excitement continues until the end of the spins, and you get to the Showdown, with 3 new spins where wilds are placed out randomly, and the win is multiplied with the collected multiplier. It’s a collector’s bonus, and the higher the wilds and multipliers are, the higher the payout potential.
The Max Win Cap
Did you know that Wanted Dead or a Wild has a max win cap of 12,500x? It’s a significant amount for sure, but it’s nowhere near 50,000x and above, which is not uncommon these days. One thing that Hacksaw Gaming has found in Wanted Dead or a Wild is to make the game’s max win achievable, even if it’s rare.
Keep in mind that streamers are stats keepers trying to accomplish things in the games they play, making it more fun for their audience to watch. An achievable max win is certainly something that any streamer would like to accomplish to share those reactions with their audience. Or a full screen of wilds or VS-symbols, for that matter. And did you know that Wanted Dead or a Wild has a one-spin max win in the base game? When this happens, it’s completely unexpected, and you will see the chat go wild.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vO4p4khnJD0 Here is a full-screen wild hit in Duel at Dawn from Spinlife.
The sound design
We tend to talk about how many players play without sound and that sound is not as important for a player these days, especially because many play without sound. However, the sound design matter very much. A slot with bad overall sound could leave any streamer leaving the game immediately because the majority of the time, they usually play with the sound on because it enhances the watching experience.
There are two key factors that Wanted Dead or Wild has nailed in its sound design; the background music and the precise timing of the sound effects (and music). The background music is memorable, but it’s also very streamer friendly and doesn’t annoy people when watching. It’s not hurting your ears; it’s just there being a nice addition to the stream without being disturbing for hours and hours. You can listen to the soundtrack here if you haven’t heard it.
Speaking of the timing, streamers often change the pace of a game. From normal speed spins to turbo spins, and back again. Buying bonuses is another way of changing the pace. If they win, during win count up they often click to see the final winning amount. In all these scenarios the music and sound effects are glued to what’s happening in the game providing a precise timing and enhanced entertainment experience.
Bonus buys and game speed
For a regular player, like myself, the standard speed is the best way to experience a game. However, timing and the game’s speed matter a lot for streamers. The possibility to “control” the speed of a game is crucial to make it more watch friendly. We have written more about it here.
Hacksaw Gaming has previously had normal speed spins and turbo spins. And during 2022, they also added super-turbo spins to make the game even more controllable in terms of speed. It is also perfect for streamers to hunt bonuses (to add to the list of games in their bonus hunts) and seek the very rare Dead Man’s Hand bonus which is a highly popular bonus among the viewers.
The bonus buy feature is another way of controlling the “speed” of the game. With a bonus buy, the streamer can create more engaging content around one game – like fast-track directly into the bonus round, create more dynamic entertainment from the same game, and simultaneously increase the odds of hitting a max win. You can read more about the importance of bonus buys here.
The name of the game
Even if this is slightly off-topic from a streamer’s perspective, I still wanted to point out the importance of naming a game. We live in 2022, and yes, people search for things – whether it’s on Google or at a casino. So, the game name matters very much. I think there is a reason for the name starting having “Dead or” in its name, to draw similarities to the well-known games from NetEnt; Dead or Alive and Dead or Alive 2.
So if you search for “dead or” the likelihood of appearing on that result list is pretty high. No wonder we have so many Book-games in our industry. The next thing, which perhaps is more on the fun side, the name itself is tough to pronounce. Making it a fun gimmick – and something you remember – have you ever tried to say “Wanted Dead or a Wild” really fast?
Data and insights
Now that we have covered some details on why Wanted Dead or a Wild is so well catered for streamers, let’s look at some data and insights. When the game hit the market in September 2021, it almost instantly became a hit among the streaming community.
From the game’s release until today, the game has surpassed a total reach of 1.2 billion minutes. That’s about 20 million hours of brand awareness when a potential player has seen the game on the other side of the screen. These numbers are the highest we have ever seen on one particular game, and the long-tail awareness effect without a glimpse of churn is remarkable. Just check the numbers below.
The graph above shows the monthly reach (watched minutes) for Wanted Dead or a Wild since October 2021.
The graph above shows the monthly airtime (streamed minutes) for Wanted Dead or a Wild since October 2021.
It’s not very often you see this kind of long-tail effect where a game keeps becoming increasingly popular over time, especially in the iGaming industry. Something that we have learned from our data is that a well-designed product for streamers could both increase the lifespan of your product’s popularity but also bump an already existing product that you might have in your portfolio.
Google Trends is a great tool for understanding the overall search trends of a brand, topic, or any word. Let’s look at the search trend on “Wanted Dead or a Wild” at look at the search trends on Google and Youtube.
Search trends on Google worldwide on the terms “Wanted Dead or a Wild”. There is a strong correlation between the overall search trend and our data.
Search trends on Youtube worldwide on the term “Wanted Dead or a Wild” shows the same growing trend.
What does this tell us? First of all, I have no clue how the game performs financially on an overall level, but there is a strong connection between Google Trends and the general trend on brand awareness on Twitch and Youtube, based on our AI-generate date. Sure, Google Trends only shows the interest over time in relative numbers. But the exponential popularity of Wanted Dead or a Wild among the streaming community has influenced people worldwide to start searching for the game (and creating a top-of-mind effect).
To round things off, I believe the game design itself is the hidden secret for Wanted Dead or a Wild. A game that caters to the vast majority of needs and motivational factors that drives streamers to play a game for a longer period. A perfect product-market-fit.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this analysis and the whole article series. The future of entertainment is shaping as we speak, and it’s becoming harder than ever to break through the noise. Are you in a state where you want to start exploring the power of live streaming data and genuinely understand the motivational factors that streamers have – to be able to create a perfect product-market-fit – please reach out on my Twitter or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s meet. Thanks for reading!