In a recent interview for Slots Calendar, David Stoveld, COO of Armadillo Studios, shared some insights into his career and experience working in the iGaming software development industry together with Armadillo Studios.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What makes you, you, and why have you chosen to work at Armadillo Studios?
Creating games has been a passion my entire life, from playing board games as a child to playing gambling games as an adult. After taking the leap from Las Vegas to Stockholm, I was fortunate enough to experience both the land-based U.S. games and iGaming in Europe. The creation of Armadillo Studios offered the perfect opportunity to leverage the breadth and depth of knowledge gained over the last twelve years, allowing it to become a frontrunner in U.S. tailored content. Working with Razvan Haiduc, another industry veteran, only reinforces the confidence of becoming a well-known thriving studio in the years to come.
We love big wins, so can you please let us know the top 3 winnings ever paid by Armadillo Studios?
While our first title, 15 Armadillos, has a prize pot of 10,000x for getting 15 Armadillo coins, we have seen several players hitting free spin wins above 20,000x when certain features are mixed and match the potential spirals out of control (in a good way). We recently released Queen of Egypt and have already hit some wins around 10,000x.
You have an impressive slots portfolio. Can you name the best three slots ever released by Armadillo Studios?
While only two games have gone live so far, they are doing great, and we are pretty excited about our next release, Armadillo Goes West, and many more in the works.
Looking to the future, what is the next big release Armadillo Studios is planning?
Our biggest planned release to date is a branded title called The Lioness, featuring the legendary MMA champion Amanda Nunes. We have already started the development and we’re keen to launch early in Q3, especially in the U.S. market where we expect it to perform exceptionally well.
In a market with hundreds of game studios, what would you say is Armadillo Studios’ biggest differentiator?
We are in a truly unique position with all the variables to capitalize on the thriving U.S. gambling environment. Armadillo Studios creates titles based on its market-specific logic and player preferences, and our team has tons of experience and skills. We know what it takes to launch a top tier slot and have every intention of achieving our ambitious goals.
Armadillo Studios’ team consists of members who are players themselves. Our passion for games and our work drives us to create top gambling experiences that players will never forget.
We would love to hear more about the slot creation process. Can you let us know which is the most exciting part of the entire process when creating a new slot?
I am a math guy so naturally I think a lot about this. The math behind the process is crucial and helps one understand why and how certain metrics can maximize the playing experience. I also like to test those theories by actually playing the game or at least a prototype of the game. Mood boards, initial sound pitches, and first rounds of art provide very exciting times with each iteration, especially when they come together in the right direction, quickly giving more time for fine-tuning.
The first stages of developing a slot are fascinating. Even before we create it, we get lots of new ideas at random times, and we pick the ones we consider a great fit with our vision. It is really important to write them down and think about how the different mechanics and themes would work together, what worked previously, and how a particular concept or idea would interest players.
What about any funny inside stories? Do you have something to share with us?
I have many! One interesting story happened while working for one of the biggest game developers in the world. We were working on a title that now performs as a top 3 game in the U.S. market. Someone wanted to cancel it, mainly due to the low performance of other games with the same jackpot mechanic that weren’t very profitable. After the initial numbers came in, the same person said it was doing great thanks to its great mechanics, art style, etc. In a B.I. meeting, someone finally spilt the beans, saying: “I think it’s because of the jackpot.”
How can you tell if an online slot is going to be a hit or not?
If anyone could predict the future, they would have the world at the tips of their fingers. But generally, when it comes to slots and creating a hit title, aiming for unsaturated and missing components in a market is the best strategy. Generally, there will be plenty of other games with similar ideas and directions. Finding a different route and getting there before others improves the odds of creating a hit.
It’s usually a good sign when your game has multiple similar clones, and it still shows up on the top page of all the operators.
Switching our attention to casinos; with so many options out there, can you let us know which are your top 3 casino preferences?
While in Europe, I personally liked LeoVegas. I find it very nice to bet your own money before your bonus money wagering locks in. Land-based-wise, I like the Atlantis Casino in Reno. The BetMGM app also seems the cleanest to me so far.
Did you use to play slots before entering the iGaming industry? Can you share with us your biggest win on an online slot?
In college, I played poker with friends. After moving to Reno, I would play in casinos a lot. Lobstermania 2 became one of my favourite games after hitting so many jackpots in one session. I probably only totalled around 500x, but it felt great. I naturally got a lot of 600x wins for 3000 euros on the Joker games on online slots, and I topped 1000x a couple of times on Big Bad Wolf. I also got 500x on Book of Dead just for 1 line on the highest symbol.
What has been your biggest challenge and your most significant success in the gambling industry?
The beginning was tough. Without a background, you have to prove yourself, both with the rigorous interview, exam process, and making games perform. I remember how challenging was having to create the math for the entire Batman game. I enjoyed creating slots a lot, especially when I worked on titles like Divine Fortune, Miss Red and Dia de Muertos. I was really happy when I made Jungle Spirit while working at NetEnt with the team in Kyiv. The result was perfect, and I gained a lot of respect from the team during the development process of that title. Once you build the confidence and have the passion, everything gets easier.
If you weren’t in the gambling industry, what other industry would you want to work in?
I would’ve loved to work in the music industry, direct movies, or play hockey. I also wanted to become a math professor, comedian, or doctor. I’d also love to code an app, stream, play games at a professional level or work as a translator. My favourite choice would probably be writing my own book and directing it into a movie.