Essence of Instant Games

Instant games are manufactured products, rather than live performances. Their prize values can be distributed however best keeps players engaged, rather than by clear and simple rules as is the case with draw games. Small wonder that they have been the big success story of the past 50 years or so. Take the long view with me, in NASPL Insights June 2019!

Prizes Delivered by an Instant Game
Likely Winning Experience (Scratch)

Why Keno?

Keno, a traditional game with origins in Asia,  is a busy game: from a huge cast of characters (numbers 1 through 80) it scrambles 20 across the stage every drawing. It looks complicated for the player, with several different types of bet available. And yet, it thrives better than most draw games in settings where there is an opportunity to play every few minutes. Why? The math of the game supports the hopeful intuitions of players, as I show in NASPL Insights April 2018.

Engineering Instant Game Prize Structures: Results from Washington State

In lottery games repeat play is very important, and the prizes people actually win are particularly important in maintaining play of instant games. The cost of prizes is our greatest single cost, and tends to be challenged by auditors. Using quantitative visualization techniques described in NASPL Insights December 2013, the Washington Lottery redesigned its entire instant game portfolio and started fielding new-plan games in FY2016. Prize expense was reduced in key categories, yet the winning experience delivered to most players was improved. The financial and operational results were very positive through FY16 and FY17, as I describe in NASPL Insights Oct 2017

Why Does a Whole Village Win in El Gordo?

I reflect on how the logistics and information technology of 200 years ago (pen and ink, and mules) formed the game. Further, I show how its winning experience and structure support its social aspects. If we want to leverage social networks now in North America, we must find ways that fit our contemporary technologies and social structure. NASPL Insights February 2017

Seeing Prize Structures

The common feature of both printed and online instant games is the prize structure- the allocation of limited prize funds to prizes of different size and abundance. The prize structure is a purely quantitative feature that determines the wins experienced by players. The prize structure also determines the profitability of the game. Historically, it has received less attention during development of instant games than the play style or “reveal”, or the appearance of the printed ticket. I developed applications to express the winning experience delivered by complex instant game prize structures as graphics that the whole team can learn to interpret, at the speed of conversation.Design discussions now focus on “what is the player’s experience?”, and how to improve that experience. Quantitative changes to the prize structure can be evaluated on the fly, both for their effect on the winning experience and for their effect on profitability. NASPL Insights December 2013