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Q&A WITH ELLEVENS ESPORTS OWNER GARETH BALE

George Miller

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

 
Q&A WITH ELLEVENS ESPORTS OWNER GARETH BALE
What is Ellevens Esports about?
Gareth Bale said: “On the pitch, my goal is always to win. With Ellevens Esports, that winning attitude is just as important. There are similarities between football and esports in that it takes real dedication and sacrifice to reach the top of your game. I am really excited to now have my own team and I am looking forward to Ellevens competing in major esports events all over the world.”
What inspired you to launch your own esports team?
Gareth Bale said: “My interest in esports started about two years ago watching Ninja stream Fortnite and as a result I naturally progressed to watching FIFA and the FIFA Global Series. The competitive side was fascinating, so I decided I wanted to provide an opportunity for gamers that take esports seriously and to play for a professional organisation at the highest level.
“I am fortunate enough to have been a professional footballer from a young age playing at some of the world’s best clubs and I feel there were lots of similarities between real life sport and esports. Therefore, I want to provide the best professional environment for gamers around the world and build an esports legacy.”
Do you play esports?
Gareth Bale said: “When I’m not training or playing football, I love to play in online FIFA tournaments, but I’m definitely not an elite competitor.
Ellevens will hold a tournament to find gamers to join the team. What’s your advice to players?
Gareth Bale said: “Enjoy it! Whatever you do in life you have to enjoy it so do your best, practice as much as you can and the rest will follow. One of the aspects that I love about esports is that it brings people together – it allows anyone in the world to try out for Ellevens Esports., it’s a fantastic chance to become a professional gamer and I wish everyone good luck! I will be watching!”
 
ELLEVENS ESPORTS GAMERS
Tyler Phillips
Home country: Wales (Newport)
“Representing Ellevens is the proudest moment of my life. Gareth Bale is known all over the world, he is an idol for me, being from Wales. Playing for his team is a life-changing opportunity and is giving me that extra push to take my career to the next level!”
Ethan Higgins
Home country: England (Birmingham)
“Fans can expect to see Ellevens be one of the best teams in the world. Having Gareth Bale as co-owner is amazing as it’s a completely new experience for all of us players.”
Pedro “Resende” Henrique Soares
Home country: Brazil
“It is an honour to be part of Ellevens. Even though we are new in the scene, we already have a very strong team. Having Gareth Bale involved brings a lot of attention which is really exciting. Hopefully we will deliver our fans a number of championship titles!”

Interviews

Exclusive Q&A with Dejan Orlac, Head of Design at Royce&Bach

George Miller

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Exclusive Q&A with Dejan Orlac, Head of Design at Royce&Bach
Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

Let’s start from the beginning. Your beginnings, that is. Our readers love to learn more about top professionals and their life. Tell us more about yourself.

I was one of those kids that knew what he wanted to do from early on. That is to turn problems into elegant solutions through design. I loved drawing anything that moved, either on wheels, through the air or, underwater. My passion led me to the Academy of Arts and Design in Ljubljana, where I studied Industrial Design. After a successful study, I moved to London to pursue my appetite for design at the Royal College of Art, studying MA in product design. I never finished the course as I found myself in front of a new challenge in the gaming industry. It was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. I became a partner and head of design at the original Royce&Bach company. One thing led to another, and soon I was playing a part in launching the online casino platform called Oryx Gaming. We planned, developed, and designed a complete library of over 40 slot games, online roulette games, and poker games. We also designed all interfaces and the whole front end that enabled the launch of the product.

It was enough. I needed a break from the gaming environment and embarked on a new adventure. I was designing different products in various industries, from toys to phones and anything in between. I worked on projects for many high-end brands like Burberry, Coway, Panasonic, LG, and many others. It was a valuable learning experience that allowed me to reflect on the gaming industry that gave me the start. It is funny how I came back full circle and decided to focus on the gaming industry again with more specific goals.

 

Perhaps the first time you made your mark in the industry was by launching Archipelago 8 electronic roulette. Tell us about that experience.

Before starting the journey with Royce&Bach, I was already designing online casino lobby’s and games for Playtech, and other casino providers. It gave me significant knowledge and confidence for my next adventure. Royce&Bach was an incredible opportunity for a 22-year-old boy. I worked and learned from some of the most intelligent people in the industry. The company had a clear goal and product vision; to disrupt the gaming industry with a better approach to a customer and user experience. The design was our first bet. Our first presentation of the Archipelago roulette was in 2007 at ICE in London, and the interest was overwhelming. However, it came with its fair share of challenges. After the show, we realized we need to go back to the drawing board and make changes to the design, construction, and implement additional feedback from potential buyers. And we did. The plan hit home with the Asian demographic, and shortly after, we started shipping our first products. Soon we proudly installed our roulette in the MGM Grand Macau.

 

You were involved with gaming product designs when you were working in Orlach Design? Could you tell us about some of the designs that you were associated with?

Orlach design is my own design company. Through Orlach design, I designed products, concepts, user interfaces, and other innovative solutions for many well-known international companies. I also worked directly with leading design studios helping them with their projects. Together we worked on products for beverage brand Budweiser, JSP and Keeler. I also designed the new UI for the ROXI home music entertainment system and worked on many projects at Burberry. It was interesting to be part of the TV brand campaign for Peugeot or cooperate on developing sets for Garnier TV commercials. Through Orlach design, I worked on many projects in healthcare tech, scientific, industrial, high spec and toy industry, interiors, and furniture design. It enabled me to receive international recognition and win the awards such as Red Dot Design award Concepts and Core77 Best Of Design.

 

You were also part of some innovations like a digital market place of 3Dprintable industrial designs. How did it go?

The 3Defied project is a digital platform with a professionally created consumer level 3d product content. Through 3Defied, designers, design companies, and prominent brands can connect and sell their work. The end customer is the owner of a 3d printer or a regular customer who prints the content through outside vendors. It is my “pet” project. I strongly believe in it, and it is something I am very passionate about. Unfortunately, due to ongoing gaming projects, 3Defied is currently on the backburner.

 

What about your present company Royce&Bach? Tell us about your areas of expertise, ongoing projects and clients.

Our passion is to create innovative gaming products that add value to players, operators, and casino vendors. Through strategic, industry-informed, and innovation-driven design, Royce&Bach strives to enhance players’ experience and maximize operators’ return on investment. We design all kinds of online and land-based casino-relevant experiences and equipment. Electronic roulettes, slot machine cabinets, player terminals, user interfaces, and casino games are just a few of many products we designed for our clients. Ultimately Royce&Bach uncovers hidden potential and delivers innovative products that exceed our client’s expectations.

We are currently working on several fascinating products. My team is designing a new slot machine and a new automated roulette for a renowned retail casino gaming company. A well-known international brand hired us to design real room interiors for their live virtual games. For them, we are also conceptualizing new games that are either more immersive or integrate the brand on a different level. Demand for digital products is rising, and we are looking forward to developing that side of the business as well.

 

Could you explain the design process and its various stages from concept to manufacturing?

We must maximize the ROI for investors as well as enhance the entertainment experience for our players.

I want to think that I am in the process of developing our “patented” approach to the challenges of designing for the gaming industry. We based our approach around understanding specific players’ psychologies. We want to know what triggers their senses, what gets them into “the zone,” how they associate themselves with the product and, how they perceive a machine design as their winning tool.

First, we dive deep into research to uncover and identify the specific opportunities associated with the client and focus on solving those through product design. Through fieldwork, we talk to all parties involved in the product lifecycle. We also learn from previous research in our industry. Works from Natasha Dow Schüll, Roger Thomas, and Bill Friedman are an essential base for further actions. After we gather all relevant information, we create a design brief which we use throughout the development process.

Next, we move to the “concept design phase,” where we propose a variety of ideas for product design. We review them with our clients and together select the winning horse. Sometimes we choose several concepts and develop them further. I like to say that those are our horses in the race, competing against each other. After the race is over, we end up with a winning horse, which becomes our winning concept.

Now it is time to optimize our design. Together with our clients, we review the ergonomics, add further technical input from the engineering team, and, overall, create a winning proposal. What follows is finalizing colors, materials, and finishes (CMF), preparing renderings, models, and mock-ups for presentations. The result is a product that makes our clients proud and excited about the future.

 

You have worked with a lot of start-ups and helped them get ahead. What are your views about start-ups in the gaming industry in general. Pros, cons and general advice, if any?

In my view, many companies developing gaming solutions, underestimate the financial investment, and the time needed to create a successful product. Due to gaming-related legislation and strict certification processes which differ from country to country, the process is more complicated in comparison to the mainstream entertainment business. Also, the industry is small, everybody knows each other, and the competition is ruthless. That creates a unique set of challenges for any start-up that wants to thrive in our industry.

Collaborate with someone who can think and work outside perceived limitations. It can uncover hidden potential you never knew was there. Do your research, look deep to avoid surprises later. Design to attract, impress, and satisfy. Be different. It will help you stay on track and continuously evolve in the ever-changing gaming environment. Design is the best tool to explore new opportunities, adapt, and plan for the future. Design is also your best bet in the product development journey to success. It’s an investment that pays back double, at least.

 

What are the challenges and opportunities that you find in the gaming industry in terms of design?

Planning design for any gambling solution creates challenges on many levels. First, the product design must be fit for the manufacturer and easy-to-operate for the vendor. The vendor is the actual buyer who has to service and maintain the product. Second, players require much understanding. They expect to receive a completely different user experience than the vendor. Both use the same product but on different levels and have different requirements. Satisfying both is very challenging. That generally makes products complicated to design and produce because they’re often required to do too much at once.

The gambling market is also continually changing. It needs to adapt to new generations of players through technology, better research, and innovation. That presents a multitude of design pathways that can open up opportunities to create innovative designs that amuse existing players or attract new ones.

 

Final question. With a number of gaming product manufacturers employing in-house designers, what value additions can an external designing firm provide?

If you want to stay ahead, you need to collaborate with someone who can work outside perceived limitations. The in-house design team usually has plenty of work supporting ongoing business demands. That is why it’s essential to include outside professionals who are well informed overall and have cross-industry experiences to come up with fresh ideas. Flexibility, free-thinking, insight, and the quality of specialized people enables our clients to offer products that exceed expectations. Most everyday consumer products that we use were conceived and designed by external design studios. Big corporations rely on smaller companies. A lot of talented and skilled people will instead work for a smaller studio than a corporation.

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Affiliate Industry

Exclusive Q&A with Marinos Shiapanis, CEO of Campeón Gaming Partners

George Miller

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Exclusive Q&A with Marinos Shiapanis, CEO of Campeón Gaming Partners
Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

We shall begin with the iGB award. How do you feel after winning this award? Had you expected this award?

We really didn’t. This was our very first time being nominated at the iGB Affiliate Awards and, given the fact that the competition was really high, we were not expecting to hear our name. Needless to say, we were – and we still are – overwhelmed and very excited. It was a team effort, and this is why we celebrated as a team after receiving the award in London.

This is the first time Campeon has been nominated for iGB Awards. And you hit the bull’s eye in the first instance itself. How do you see this honour: as a reward of your hard work or as a stepping stone for future innovation?

I think it is a little bit of both: it is definitely a reward and a recognition of the whole Campeón Gaming Partners team’s hard work and effort, but, at the same time, this is a stepping stone for us to do more, invest more in innovation, expand and further develop across all sectors. The whole team, and especially the Affiliate & Partnerships team, really devoted themselves to the company and they are the reason we have managed to win this award. Such an award is extremely important for us, as it shows how far we have gone in such a short period of time; we have managed to slowly establish ourselves in the iGaming industry, become a familiar face for affiliates in the market, expand our network and grow as a team and a brand. However, winning this award doesn’t mean we stop here; this is not just a motivation for us, but an obligation as well to work harder, focus more and deliver even better results. I think you will hear more of us the coming months.

The award recognises how Campeon stood out in terms of “transparency, inclusiveness and continuous support”. What are the things unique to the affiliate program of Campeon Gaming Partners?

Since the beginning, our vision was to create an affiliate program that would not only attract affiliates, but it would also keep them engaged. We started off with a small network and as we were building it up, we were also improving our program. Today, our network is comprised of over 1,000 affiliates and our affiliate team has managed to establish personal relationship with each and every one of them. To us, it’s crucial to put a face to the name; it’s not just about numbers, it’s about having a person who you know will listen to you and deal with your issues no matter how big or small. This is our way of thinking: we treat each affiliate’s request as equal, and I believe that our affiliates appreciate this.

In early 2019, our team dedicated themselves into redesigning the program’s strategy, aiming at building stronger, more interpersonal relationships with our partners, and providing them with better models in order to maximize their profits. At the same time, we optimized the affiliate experience, from the registration of the player, all the way to the affiliate statics’ analysis we have successfully merged, integrated, and incorporated all of the Campeón Gaming Partners’ brands into new platforms, ensuring that no affiliate activity was ever disrupted.

The award also mentions how Campeon offered tailor-made program to the affiliates. Could you shed more light into the deeply customizable affiliate programs of Campeon Gaming Partners?

Each affiliate has his or her own needs that looks into serving through a program. At Campeón Gaming Partners, we understand that, and every time we onboard an affiliate, we go into deep discussions with him or her to understand what they are looking for in our program. I think the most important fact for our affiliates is that we assign them their very personal point of contact, who is there for them whenever they are in need. So, when we onboard a new affiliate, we first assign him or her their point of contact, who makes sure to talk to him or her, understand his or her needs and goals and together they create a program tailor-made to the affiliate’s needs.

What are the qualities that you look forward to in an affiliate? Not all affiliates are likely to become successful, right? Based on your experience, what separates the successful affiliates from the rest?

We want our affiliates to treat us the same way we treat them: with respect and transparency. We always do our best to accommodate our affiliates’ needs, so we are looking into building partnerships based on trust. I think this is the most important part for us.

Regarding the second part of your question, I believe that definitely industry knowledge and audience play a significant part in separating successful affiliates from the rest. But besides these, I think that players are looking for affiliates who will be honest with them, affiliates they can trust; I believe it is the only way to build up a players’ audience.

New new social media platforms are increasingly micro-targetting the end customers and automated CRM tools are getting more and more advanced. In this scenario, how do see the future of affiliate marketing evolving?

I believe that affiliate marketing is already changing and with these new tools it will change even more in the future. We are now entering a new era: the digital and customized era. Customers are increasingly becoming more and more demanding; they now know they don’t have to compromise anymore with mass solutions, so they are asking for customized ones. They demonstrate their needs and preferences and demand for an experience tailor-made to them. I believe this is where affiliate marketing will focus in the future, and all the new or upcoming tools available, will give us the advantage of analysing the customers’ behaviours and providing the best solutions to them. Affiliate marketing of the future will evolve around customized player’s experience, in my opinion.

Finally, tell us about any big announcement in the near future. Expanding to more countries? Launching or integrating new products? Or a new marketing campaign? Our readers will be eager to read something first here.

A couple of weeks ago, we launched our first Pay N Play platform for the Scandinavian market, SvenPlay. In a few days, we will be launching our brand new, themed platform, Sons of Slots. This is a challenge for us, as it will be the first time we are introducing such a themed platform to our players. The Sons of Slots story goes back to the motor gangs of the US and it all evolves around that; rough street battles, leather jackets and ripped jeans, long hair, and endless road trips on their Harleys. This is what inspired us and we wanted to bring something very exciting to our players. Entering the Sons of Slots platform, our players will be transferred to a new world, the world of American motor gangs; they will play their favorite games in a new, adventurous environment, with exciting features, which will take their gaming experience to a whole new level. To bring this project to life, we have invested heavily in technology and this is why we partnered with a major agency, MaxCreate, specialized in bespoke front-end design, in order to be able to offer more flexible and versatile platforms to our players and to our affiliates.

I think 2020 is our year, and people will hear more of us: exhibitions, PR, awards… We will make it happen.

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Interviews

Exclusive Q&A with Ruben Loeches, CMO at R. Franco Group

George Miller

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Exclusive Q&A with Ruben Loeches, CMO at R. Franco Group
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

After another ICE success and 2020 fully underway, we sat down with the R. Franco Group’s CMO, Rubén Loeches, to talk about the show, product highlights and key goals for Spain’s legendary gaming provider.

Now that ICE is firmly in the rear-view mirror, how would you sum up R. Franco’s targets for the show?

It was a pleasure catching up with existing and prospective clients to discuss our exciting plans for the year ahead. With our digital arm founded only a few years ago, we’re taking our five decades of excellence in land-based gaming and using it to stake our claim in the online sector.

Promoting our deeply knowledgeable and capable team was a key goal for the show as we are a company boasting some of the brightest tech talent around. These are the minds behind the state-of-the-art product offering we proudly displayed at the conference, and our key goal to show off their abilities was more than surpassed.

R. Franco’s stand was certainly impressive, any particular highlights from your product showcase? What were attendees most excited about?

Our burgeoning game development catalogue drew strong interest, with premium quality reel, video-poker, video-bingo, roulette, casino and mini-games. These are fully customisable for both the online and land-based markets using our RF OnMix terminal, a touch screen multi-game machine able to integrate different games and connect to different peripherals while setting networks with other gaming terminals.

Attendees were clearly excited by the rapidly growing Latin American market – with good reason. Another aspect of our portfolio that we were therefore particularly keen to highly was our digital flagship IRIS Open Omnichannel Platform, a crucial tool for companies looking to make their mark on the fast-growing Spanish and LatAm markets as it powers many of the region’s largest operators.

What’s R. Franco Digital’s plan for 2020?

We have an exciting and action-packed roadmap for the year ahead, with a target of releasing a new game each month in 2020 under Maltese, Spanish, Portuguese and Colombian regulatory approval.

International expansion is another critical aspect of our 2020 agenda. Malta in particular will be central to our plans, having recently established our presence on the island. The territory’s regulatory environment is conducive to innovation, with the recent change in framework an especially pleasing development.

Elsewhere, the LatAm market is evolving at an incredible pace, with a wealth of tier one operators flocking to take advantage of the region’s amazing growth. We have a bespoke product range ready to help partners take their Latin American offering to the next level, and we intend to continue doing so in the year ahead.

What’s R. Franco Digital’s outlook for the gaming industry in 2020? Any key strategies for the year?

Moving away from international expansion, one area we’re particularly excited about is our home market of Spain. Not only is it proving to be an exciting prospect for the industry, but we also anticipate the region becoming even more desirable in the year ahead and are well placed to help our partners there deliver. The market is still developing, and we expect to see a surge in activity during 2020, with operators showing a strong interest in spite of the advertising ban.

Of course, a new generation of punters bring a new generation of demands. For instance, almost 10% of the country’s population are passionate eSports fans, so Spain will be a valuable test ground for a young and fast-growing betting vertical that is full of potential.

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