EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – Todd Haushalter from Evolution
‘We don’t want to strip the Blackjack out of Blackjack’, Todd Haushalter, Chief Product Officer for Evolution.
We caught up with Todd to discuss the launch of their recent electrifying new Lightning game entry, Lightning Blackjack.
In this exclusive interview, he told us about what inspired the game, what you can expect when you play it and he also gave us a little tease of what’s coming next in 2022.
We’ve also included a link to watch the interview and there’s also a game-push breakdown.
Gordon Watson: So Todd, This is the newest Lightning entry following huge successes like Lightning Roulette for example. What inspired you to choose Blackjack as the next big Lightning entry?’
Todd Haushalter: ‘That’s a great question. Firstly, what drove it was so many people coming up to us and saying “Why don’t you make Lightning Blackjack?”. The truth is, we spent a lot of time on many different versions of the game and nothing quite felt right. Everything felt like something that wasn’t really Blackjack and we finally landed on this answer which allows you to play the game quite normally, the way you would normally play Blackjack and add in the legendary big multipliers that Lightning is famous for. Once we kind of landed on the right answer, then it really just fell into place. It was driven really by players, telling us “you really need to give us Lightning Blackjack”. People love Blackjack, they love Lightning, and it seemed like Peanut Butter and Jelly or something.’
GW: Can you give me a brief outline of what our players can actually expect from this new game?
TH: ‘What you can expect is firstly, that it’s a Blackjack game and it plays like a normal Blackjack game. Except, in this Blackjack game, it’s all about ‘hot-streaks’. So, if you win big on this hand, the next hand is going to pay a multiplier. So for example, if you win this hand with a 20, it might pay 7 times your bet or up to 25 times your bet and the bigger you win this hand, the more the next hand is going to pay. So if you win with a 21, that pays more on the next hand than say if you win with a 17. That’s basically the whole game. You can win multiple wins in a row, you can really stack the multipliers. It’s really a more volatile version of Blackjack that I think players are really going to love.’
GW: What makes it so special and will keep bringing our players back to this game?
TH: ‘What makes this game special is that it allows you to have huge wins. So the biggest problem with Blackjack is that the best thing that can happen in the game is that you get a Blackjack that pays 1.5x. It’s something but it’s a little bland by 2021 standards and so in this game, you can win up to 25 times your bet and you’re playing a normal Blackjack game. So it’s not like you need to change you’re whole strategy or anything like that. Now this game isn’t going to be for everybody. It’s for players who are looking for an intentionally more volatile version of Blackjack and that’s exactly what it is. It’s Blackjack with a lotta punch.’
GW: So, can our players actually expect more Lightning games in the future?
TH: ‘Definitely, you’ll see more Lightning games in the future. We’re cooking up some interesting stuff right now. I don’t want to go into exactly what it is but players love the Lightning family of games and there’s still a lot of fun stuff to do in the world with Lightning, so you can definitely watch for some fun stuff. It’s not really going to be that far away either.’
‘Everything in table games is always about THIS HAND. And so, when you’re telling a story about “If you win this hand with a Blackjack, you’re next hand will pay 25 to 1. If you win this hand with a 21, you’re next hand will pay with a 20 to 1” and so forth. And trying to explain to people that that has nothing to do with this hand and has to do with the next hand and sort of getting the storytelling right, was the tricky part.’
GW: Now, here’s a question for you. What were some of the production trials and experiences that you actually went through getting to this current game?
TH: ‘One of the most challenging things about this game was getting the storytelling right. It’s a hard story to explain to people, that if you win this hand, your next hand is going to pay big. Everything in table games is always about THIS HAND. And so, when you’re telling a story about “If you win this hand with a Blackjack, you’re next hand will pay 25 to 1. If you win this hand with a 21, you’re next hand will pay with a 20 to 1” and so forth. And trying to explain to people that that has nothing to do with this hand and has to do with the next hand and sort of getting the storytelling right, was the tricky part and also the game design. So many of our early iterations.
We had one version of Lightning Cards. So every round will designate certain cards as Lightning Cards. But, when we were playing it… Let’s say for example… the 3 of Diamonds was a Lightning card and it would pay a multiplier. You found yourself just hitting way more often so that you could catch Lightning Cards and it didn’t really feel like Blackjack. It felt more like chase the lightning or something. We don’t want to strip the Blackjack out of Blackjack. So I would say the game construction itself and then also getting the storytelling right were the hardest parts about this game. In the end, I think we got a pretty simple, straightforward game that players love.’
GW: So we’re just about to turn the corner into 2022, so what other games and projects are you cooking up that our players could look forward to in 2022?
TH: ‘2022 is action packed! I can’t go into great specifics but I can tell you we’ve got some major gameshows coming, we’ve got a little something for everybody. We’ve got some very interesting twists on classic games. We’ve got some, how do I say it… we’ve got one mega brand game coming that you can watch for. What got all sorts of interesting stuff. We’re going to start unveiling some of this stuff in February and we’ll be rolling it out over 2022. I think it’s the best roadmap we’ve ever had.’
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