Connect with us
SOFTSWISS

Interviews

Exclusive interview with Henri Mirande, CTO and Co-founder of Kinetix

Published

on

Reading Time: 7 minutes

 

In a nutshell, Kinetix is an AI-driven platform that allows users to generate 3D content easily and quickly. But it is much more than what that quick summary suggests. Here we have with us its co-founder and CTO  Henri Mirande in a free-flowing chat about the platform, its features, its vision, its philosophy and its future. So, without any more ado, over to Henri!

Q. Let’s start on a personal note. Tell us briefly about your life and career.

A. I’m an avid gamer. I spent my teenage years playing strategy games, clocking up a total of four thousand hours on Civilization IV alone. As a passionate gamer, I decided to study Engineering in Computer Vision, a field that would allow me to be close to the games industry. After conducting research I joined multiple exciting tech companies bringing solutions to developers and publishers, such as Dynamixyz. My experiences helped me see that AI technologies will transform multiple industries, which is when I made up my mind to start my entrepreneurial journey in AI for gaming!

Q.  Now we shall move to Kinetix. What’s the story behind Kinetix? Kinetix, as we understand it, is a product of the Covid-19 era. What were the founding objectives of Kinetix?

A. Kinetix started after I met my co-founder, Yassine Tahi, during the Entrepreneur First program in 2020. We share a common passion for gaming and belief in the potential of AI. We started by interviewing some experts and pros who were our potential users. What brought us together is that we were both convinced that, with recent breakthroughs in research, we didn’t have to limit the AI opportunity to the pros but think about it as a tool for casual users too. In many of our early stage discussions investors were pushing for a SaaS model to address the market of 3D animation professionals. We were convinced that AI was  going to give everyone new abilities and that a bigger market was going to be addressable in a short time frame. We made the choice to develop technologies for the mass market setting. The Kinetix vision is to Humanize Metaverse by allowing everyone to create their own stories through Emotes. This unique positioning gave us a strong first-mover advantage and we’re now seeing a lot of players starting to develop AI for broader audiences.

Q. Did you have a clear-cut idea at the beginning about the kind of platform you were going to develop for Kinetix and the kind of technological backbone required for it? Or did you innovate on the go towards the present platform and technological model?

A. We knew we wanted our tech to be very user friendly and as accessible as possible. We evaluate and make all our tech infrastructure choices with that objective in mind. It guides our development and we always leverage what we learn from our users to further simplify the creation or integration process. Our main metrics on our studio are the percentage of our users becoming creators and time it takes them to make their first creation. The metric we monitor on our SDK is the time it takes developers and publishers to integrate it, and we’re happy to say it now takes less than one day for junior game devs. By improving on these metrics, we ensure we’re creating tech that is able to onboard thousands of users and their User Generated Emotes into games and virtual worlds.

Q. You mentioned making the process of 3D content generation easier and more accessible. How far has Kinetix succeeded in doing that? Could you provide some stats, regarding the number of users and the amount of time needed to develop 3D content using Kinetix?

A. On average, our users need 2 to 3 minutes to create and finalize an Emote. More than half of the created Emotes use more than two of our AI and editing features, demonstrating they easily navigate through and play with the multiple creative tools we offer to create awesome Emotes. You don’t have to take our word for it though – give it a try and see how easy 3D content creation can be! Our user base is constantly growing with more than 33% growth each quarter.

Our biggest recent success is for our SDK. We engaged hundreds developers in a beta program that helped us develop it. We are still accepting registrations and invite every developer interested in integrating Emotes in their projects to sign-up as a beta tester.

Q. You also talked about monetization for the users and fairer sharing of ad revenue with the creators. Could you provide some details – for example, stats about sharing of revenues with creators before Kinetix and after Kinetix?

A. The Kinetix Emote SDK has been developed to enable Emote distribution cross games and virtual worlds. AI not only heightens creativity it also guarantees to deliver assets in consistent formats. Our Emotes are 3D animation files that essentially contain information about the position of different points over a given period of time. As opposed to avatar or weapon, they don’t compete with the look-and-feel of the game or virtual world, they can be used agnostically whether the aesthetic is “blocky” (like Roblox), or realistic (like Fortnite). Kinetix Emotes are designed to be interoperable assets and this makes a huge difference for creators, allowing their creations to be used across multiple environments. Interoperability expands usage drastically, which leads to increased asset value, and like many other gaming companies we believe creators must benefit from that fundamental change. Kinetix gives 95% of the value of the first sale of any User-Generated Emote to its creator, as explained in our white paper. This is comparable to what big Web3 virtual worlds offer for their creators, while creator fees on Web2 gaming platforms often range between 20 and 40% of the generated revenue.

Q. The other objectives you had while starting out were better self expression while creating 3D content and interoperability of the content across platforms. After nearly three years of operating, what are your thoughts on these objectives with reference to the performance of Kinetix?

A. With multiple integrations with games & virtual worlds currently being deployed we are beginning to deliver on our ambition of interoperability. One of the most exciting parts in our adventure is how we are progressively changing our focus towards Emotes. We define Emotes as animations that express avatars’ emotions like dances, gestures & celebrations. Working on Emotes and not 3D animations might seem a niche thing, but it is not! It’s a big challenge as we are now dealing with emotions that motions convey. We are creating new categories that are no longer just describing the movements but also the message they share. This is changing how we produce our own content, how we funnel the creative process for users, how we prioritize our R&D projects. We are convinced that this new approach allows us to build tech that is not only capturing movement but what it expresses. We feel that we are heading in the right direction to develop a new standard of self-expression technology.

Q. Now, tell us about the most eye-catching features of Kinetix?

A. The feature I am the most proud of is our Video-To-Emote technology. It is the first one we released but we are now at v1.5 and we can say that our AI has been polished and is getting better and better. Our challenge of delivering high-quality 3D animations with a single camera is very complex. We see many players delivering great tech but their setups are often time-consuming and expensive. We made the decision to give everyone, or at least every smartphone owner, the possibility to become a 3D creator for free and we believe this is the right decision. The level of expertise we reached on our Video-To-Emote technology is awesome and I am proud to see that in addition to the studio we are now offering it as a standalone solution with the recent launch of our “Motion Portal” tool. This solution allows brands to set up a Portal where their fans just upload their 10s videos to animate their favorite brand avatar and universe. It fully relies on our Video-To-Emote and we generate thousands of high-quality videos without any need for animation cleaning. This level of performance is what we were aiming for with my team of 10+ R&D engineers and I am happy to see that the results are engaging our partner communities!

Q. What are the new features to be launched in the near future?

A. We have really exciting features coming soon. One that really excites me is the release of our facial animation feature coming in 2023. My team worked hard to deliver a facial recognition technology embedded within our suite of AI models for 3D animation. Results are outstanding. I am excited to see our community of creators testing it by the summer. We know it will increase the level of fidelity of users’ creations. Mixing body motion capture with facial, style transfer as blend models allows us to provide the most comprehensive suite of AI technologies applied to 3D animations on the market.

Q. Our readers would also love to hear about some of the impressive 3D content generated via your platform. If you don’t mind, provide some great examples.

A. One story I really like is the Next Dancer one. We constantly chat with our community on Discord and also arrange interviews with them. This is how we met with Damien Daube. He is a former professional breakdancer that was using our tech to record his dances and save them as 3D files. When we spoke for the first time he explained to us that he would love to see a game leveraging our tech to allow dancers to bring their dances into a virtual world. It was at the exact moment we were starting to build our SDK. Our paths were perfectly aligned so we went on a common journey and we are really happy that Damien has successfully launched the first version of Next Dancer:  the first AI based dance game. This new gameplay is seducing players such as famous IPs, with the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” having already made a collection of dances for the game. Embedding our tech at the core level of such a great game empowers creativity and UGC.

Q. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are witnessing phenomenal changes at a rapid pace. There have been reports that some of the big players in the field are eying 3D content generation using AI, after similar products in text and 2D graphics like ChatGPT and DallE? Do you see a threat or opportunity here?

A. All those new AI releases are a tremendous opportunity. One simple fact that proves it, is that over the last weeks almost every tech enthusiast has learned how to prompt. It is now clear for a lot of people that they will benefit from AI to improve their work and creative process. We believe those general models are putting the spotlight on how AI can impact multiple industries and gaming is a target of choice. Those models are trained on a very large dataset and this is a big difference comparing how 3D animations models are currently being developed. They mainly rely on academic datasets which are way smaller. Being able to collect large sets of animations is one of the main challenges for our technology. As Kinetix not only addresses professionals but creators at large, we built a top proprietary library of animations coming from casual users. This gives us a unique competitive advantage. It sets the foundation for training larger models in animation to excel in our industry. Our R&D tests prove that we are gaining a strong and long lasting competitive advantage.

Q. Finally, do you have any advice or suggestions to new entrepreneurs, especially as someone who started out and succeeded during the Covid pandemic?

A. My advice is to do what you love and love what you do! Founding and managing a company is an exciting adventure when shared with passionate people. What I care about the most is to work with enthusiastic people who have very strong convictions on the future of AI and gaming. We are very cautious in our recruitment process to make sure that every newcomer brings a little more passion to the team.

eSports

eSports in the CIS region , Q&A w/ Viktor Block, Senior Sales Manager/PandaScore

Published

on

eSports in the CIS region , Q&A w/ Viktor Block, Senior Sales Manager/PandaScore
Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Esports has long been popular in the CIS region, with various top-tier teams and players all calling it home. How has the landscape evolved over the last few years? Have any particular trends emerged that have surprised you at all?

Esports boomed in the CIS region in 2008 when Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games became really popular. While esports had been a thing as far back as 2003, the rise of games such as Counter-Strike and DOTA2 was a major catalyst for the upward trajectory the sector has been riding ever since. In recent years, the infrastructure needed to support esports has improved drastically across the CIS region, including the construction of the Pixel Esports Arena in Minks, Belarus, and the Cyberspace Arena in Almaty, Kazakhstan, both of which hold top-flight contests. Internet connectivity has also improved, while support from local and international sponsors such as Monster Energy, Red Bull and War Gaming have provided funds for further investment while also driving awareness. Ultimately, this has seen the landscape evolve into a thriving industry with lots of opportunities for further growth.

In terms of trends, and especially relating to esports betting, I’ve been surprised by the high demand for betting on console games – we call them eBattles and they include disciplines such as eSoccer and eBasketball. I think this is just a natural development that has occurred off the back of strong demand for video game content, which is often the bridge between traditional sports and esports.

 

What factors have contributed to esports’ growth in the CIS over the past few years?

One of the biggest factors for me is that teams have become more professional and are now training and playing in well-run clubs. This takes place in dedicated buildings and rooms, set up with high-speed internet and the absolute best gaming equipment. Player salaries have also gone up, which has increased the calibre of players taking part in contests across the region, taking competitiveness to the next level. Today, many CIS players now play for high-ranked teams such as Virtus.pro, Team Spirit, Betboom or Na`Vi which compete on the international stage. This in turn is helping esports grow across the CIS region.

 

Given how many countries are in the CIS region, can you walk us through some of the biggest regulatory differences when it comes to betting on esports? And how does PandaScore navigate these changes?

The legality of betting and esports betting differs from country to country within the CIS region. Some are super strict or even prohibit gambling, while others take a more liberal approach, regulating the activity and licensing operators. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest markets and their approach.

In Ukraine, esports has been recognised as a sport since 2018 and in 2020 the country regulated and licensed gambling for the first time. The law focuses mostly on standard betting – sports and casino – but is likely to also include esports betting given that esports is a recognised sport in the country with tier-one Ukraine sportsbooks like Favbet and Parimatch offering it to their players.

Kazakhstan has a growing gambling industry with betting shops and casinos operating in major cities such as Almaty and Nur-Sultan. Gambling is regulated by the Ministry of Culture and Sports and while the regulatory framework is somewhat restrictive, sports betting – which is likely to include esports betting – is permitted.

Navigating the constant changes in betting regulation across the CIS region can be challenging, so we make sure to keep up to speed with the latest developments by monitoring legislative updates and amendments to regulatory guidelines. We also track industry trends and best practices to anticipate regulatory changes ahead of time, allowing us to adapt quickly if needed. This can involve benchmarking against competitors, attending conferences and networking with key stakeholders.

 

In your view, are there any unique opportunities for the expansion of esports and esports betting within the CIS region? And how does this differ to other regions?

It’s important to understand that CIS, especially Ukraine and Kazakhstan, play by their own rules. By that I mean they are very different to other esports markets, so don’t think what works in Italy will work in Ukraine. For example, while League of Legends is very popular in Europe, in CIS, it’s Dota 2 that takes the top spot. But for those who can understand the region and each market, there are plenty of opportunities to explore.

Let me elaborate. Dota 2 is thriving in the broader CIS, with regular tournaments and events attracting large audiences both offline and online. teams like Natus Vincere (Na’Vi), Virtus.pro and Team Spirit have achieved significant success in Dota 2 competitions, contributing to the game’s popularity in the region. While Dota 2 is big, other video games also enjoy significant popularity, including CS2, World of Tanks and Fortnite among others.

Operators need to consider this when deciding their markets and odds, marketing strategies and plans for player engagement.

 

What would you say is the key to creating a successful esports product for a CIS audience?

Understanding layer preferences in each market and delivering an experience that exceeds their expectations. For the CIS region, this means focusing on Dota 2 – this is a game that offers deep and strategic gameplay requiring teamwork, communication and skilful execution of plans and strategies. Its competitive nature appeals to gamers as they enjoy the challenge of multiplayer experiences – this goes back to the original MOBAs back in 2008. These factors must be present in the esports betting experience offered to players – at PandaScore, this means a comprehensive Dota 2 offering that covers markets such as Kills, Towers, Roshans and Barracks, with players able to challenge themselves in a betting competition against others.

Support is also key to delivering a quality player experience. We offer round-the-clock assistance and are regularly rolling out updates to improve the experience players receive when betting on esports at sportsbooks using our data, odds and betting tools such as our Bet Builder. We are always working hard to expand our offering to cover the most in-demand games including CS2, Valorant, Call of Duty and many more.

 

What trends or developments do you anticipate shaping the future growth of esports in the CIS region over the next few years?

The industry will continue to grow and become more professional. Esports is different to traditional sports and it still lacks recognition in some markets, even though it is considered an official sport in a growing number of countries across the CIS region. I think as it evolves, more governments will provide more support for esports as it brings tremendous economic, cultural and social benefits. This could include funding for esports initiatives, rolling out regulatory frameworks, helping to foster partnerships with esports organisations or simply recognising it as a sport.

The continued proliferation of smartphones across the region will be a further catalyst for esports growth. Titles such as PUGB Mobile, Free Fire and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang will attract large audiences and provide new opportunities for teams, players, sponsors and other stakeholders to explore. This is a really exciting time for esports and esports betting in the CIS region, and PandaScore is thrilled to be part of it.

Continue Reading

Interviews

Exclusive Q&A w/ Rory Credland, Head of Strategy at Next.io

Published

on

Q&A w/ Rory Credland, Head of Strategy at Next.io
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

  • Could you provide an overview of the upcoming Next.io summit in May?

We are hosting our 4th annual NEXT.io event in Valletta on 15 – 16 May. With a global delegation of 5,000 attendees, Valletta’24 is more than just a conference; it’s where groundbreaking ideas and innovations converge. In addition to the leadership stage, we host several side tracks on marketing, investment, HR, sustainability, technology, emerging markets/jurisdictions – plus a new track on personal development. As we expect over 5,000 attendees, we have also increased our networking space with a new hall dedicated to more exhibitors, entertainment area, lunch, and a chill-out zone. Finally, our recent partnership with Ask Gamblers will ensure greater affiliates and operators in attendance, so as you can see there is definitely something for everyone and the event promises to be one of endless connections and activities.

 

  • What speakers or panelists can attendees expect to hear from during the summit?

We have tailored the event to make this event the pinnacle of the iGaming industry, offering unparalleled networking opportunities and insights from 300 industry-leading voices. We have many c-level speakers attending including Angus Nisbet, VP Gaming, BetMGM, gaming industry expert Paris Smith, Lahcene Merzoug, CEO. PressEnter, Francesco Postiglione, CEO, Casumo, Martina Akerlund, CEO, CallsU, Jeffrey Haas, Chief Growth Officer, William Hill, Todd Haushalter, CPO, Evolution Group, Tim Heath, General Partner, Yolo Investments plus an amazing keynote to kick off the start the event. We have two amazing keynotes to kick-start day 1 and 2 of the event, so I urge you to check out our agenda via

 

  • Can you share any insights into the format of sessions and discussions planned for the summit?

We like to change the formats and concepts up at NEXT.io compared to the norm that you see at other organisers. For instance, we base our talks at 30mins max to ensure that it is short and sharp straight to the point discussions and a limited number of speakers on each session so that more interactive discussion and debate can be had. We also are putting the CEOs under the spotlight this year – think Mastermind – with each CEO – one by one – under a “spotlight” for 10mins with direct questioning from the host. Should be awesome and insightful.

 

  • How does Next.io ensure diversity and inclusivity in the selection of speakers and participants for its summits?

Internally we take an active stance to ensure that there is a cross selection of speakers to this regard based on our own internal metrics. Wherever possible we encourage new speakers to be put forward by their organisations or through connections that we make – this allows for new and different perspectives on the discussion to hand which make the event and tracks interesting and informative for the audience.

 

  • What unique networking or collaboration opportunities will be available to participants during the event?

For two years ago we have designed NEXT.io Valletta to be a festival week of iGaming, encouraging people to arrive for the week to take part in our activities we have on the Monday and Tuesday before attending the event on Wednesday. This year we have Golf, Padel, Run Club plus many networking events taking place from Tuesday through to Friday night, so check out the website where you will be able to find more information.

 

  • How does Next.io leverage technology or innovation to enhance the summit experience for attendees, whether in-person or virtual?

We have a unique advantage hosting the event at the MCC in that the main stage is built like a theatre – so with use of such a big stage we can use LED screens which allow for animation and interaction on screen as well as several attendee applications which ensures they get directly involved with what session is taking place and have an input into the direction of the questioning.

 

  • What motivated Next.io to choose Malta as the location?

NEXT.io head office is based in Malta, so it felt a natural fit to organise our flagship event within the country and at one of Malta’s iconic venues – The Mediterranean Conference Centre – with epic views over the harbour and Mediterranean Sea. When NEXT.io was formed the company had amazing support from the Maltese Gaming Authority who backed us at the time and so since day one we continue to use Malta to host what we feel is becoming an event on everyone’s calendars.

 

  • How does Next.io ensure that its summits provide a platform for emerging voices and perspectives alongside established leaders and experts?

As mentioned previously we like to continuously promote not only the established experts but also the leaders of tomorrow. Our Advisory Board is instrumental in that regards as they also have an ear to the ground as to whom is best to suggest for topics and discussions. I think what works best is a mix of experience and new to crate that interesting discussion on stage.

 

  • How does Next.io plan to capture and share the insights and outcomes from the Malta summit to extend its impact beyond the event itself?

We record our main stage sessions and use this through our awesome marketing to promote the event long after it is over via access on our news part of the website. In fact, we never see an event having an “end” more of a continuation to the next show as we promote what was and what is new for the following year. Continuous dialogue with our audience and clients is important to ensure consistent messaging and allows us to react to what market forces are in play at the time.

Continue Reading

Interviews

BetGames Classic roulette launch w/ Andreas Koeberl, CEO

Published

on

BetGames Classic roulette launch w/ CEO, Andreas Koeberl
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

You’ve just launched your own spin on the casino classic roulette – what prompted this move and why now?

AK: Our mission is to help our partners convert their recreational punters into casino players, organically, resulting in lower CPAs and higher retention rates. In practice, this means instead of throwing massive bonuses at your players, you use a curated set of games, features and targeted bonuses at a way lower cost. We already deliver the initial part of this journey and have now added arguably the most classic game of all time to ensure we don’t lose those players to the competition.

 

Some may consider such a launch as brave given how saturated the market is with versions of the game – how have you built the trademark BetGames DNA into your version?

AK: The products we launch are all key parts of the puzzle to convert bettors to casino, rather than being efforts to attack the big established brands in the market. Roulette is a commodity and what’s the point of entering a price war we can’t win due to lower scale? The crucial focus is the player conversion journey and a seamless experience – not having to switch lobbies and staying with the supplier you trust. We didn’t reinvent the wheel, so to speak! I don’t think the fancy studios with robot arms and seven different cameras add any value in our core markets. We focused on a slick player experience with a professional presenter quality. We have kept it simple and targeted.

 

Do you have certain markets in mind for this latest launch? Are we seeing RNG table games surge in popularity in LatAm, for example?

AK: We’re focusing on our existing markets and LatAm initially. This is one reason why we launched the game without a continuous stream during the placing of bets, reducing data consumption. What we have learned from some of our existing games, and certainly from our most popular examples, is that our players (who are generally more sports savvy) enjoy silence and focus during betting. Thus, we have top-notch quality presentation during the spin but a quiet, slick betting experience during the dwell time. This helps to save players’ data, particularly in markets where developing infrastructures are a challenge. LatAm isn’t very developed yet with live content, and one of the main reasons for that is partly poor infrastructure. Quick, data-light products like RNG games remain popular because of that.

 

You’ve seen a lot of success in LatAm and Africa – are the requirements of developing markets hugely different to those of the more established when you are developing products?

AK: Africa is special because it is an extremely superstitious market – trust and ease of use are everything. LatAm is more demanding on the localisation front. People want Brazilian Portuguese or Latin Spanish, even though they often play games muted – this makes it tricky. From a live perspective, both markets are still in their infancy. RNG develops quicker, but still has huge potential. We will see what the new regulations in areas such as Brazil, Peru and Chile will bring in terms of market development.

 

Is the widening of your product portfolio indicative of a long-term shift of focus for BetGames? Will we see more of your more traditional lottery and card-based games?

AK: We follow a niche strategy and want to add incremental value for our partners. We have seen a lot of new competitors entering the live dealer space aiming to take on the likes of Evolution, Playtech and Pragmatic Play. Most of them failed or at least experienced a hard landing in terms of commercial success. The big players, especially Pragmatic and Evolution have massive scale, giving them significant competitive advantages, which lots of smaller or new studios often underestimate. A 24/7 live operation comes with enormous challenges and OPEX and the rev shares on commodities like roulette are getting smaller and smaller. So, we will stick to our mission and USP. If a partner wants a roulette environment, we are capable of delivering, but it needs to make sense. Hence, we aren’t neglecting our core to become a supplier of roulette and blackjack specifically.

We’ve grown our portfolio over the years to accommodate constantly shifting player trends and technology and will continue to do so, remaining agile, relevant and making informed decisions on a product offering that suits global markets.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Alpha Affiliates
Advertisement

EveryMatrix

Advertisement

SaaS-builder for partner program development and performance marketing optimization

Advertisement

Launch your iGaming business swiftly and effortlessly with our comprehensive turnkey solutions

Advertisement

LEADING AFFILIATE MARKETING SHOW

Trending

Get it on Google Play

EuropeanGaming.eu is a premier online platform that serves as a leading information hub for the gaming and gambling industry. This industry-centric media outlet reaches over 200,000 readers monthly, providing them with compelling content, the latest news, and deep-dive insights.

Offering comprehensive coverage on all aspects of the gaming sector, EuropeanGaming.eu includes online and land-based gaming, betting, esports, regulatory and compliance updates, and technological advancements. Regular features encompass daily news articles, press releases, exclusive interviews, and insightful event reports.

The platform also hosts industry-relevant virtual meetups and conferences, and provides detailed reports, making it a one-stop resource for anyone seeking information about operators, suppliers, regulators, and professional services in the European gaming market. The portal's primary goal is to keep its extensive reader base updated on the latest happenings, trends, and developments within the gaming and gambling sector, with an emphasis on the European market while also covering pertinent global news. It's an indispensable resource for gaming professionals, operators, and enthusiasts alike.

Contact us: [email protected]

Editorial / PR Submissions: [email protected]

Copyright © 2015 - 2024 - European Gaming is part of HIPTHER. Registered in Romania under Proshirt SRL, Company number: 2134306, EU VAT ID: RO21343605. Office address: Blvd. 1 Decembrie 1918 nr.5, Targu Mures, Romania

We are constantly showing banners about important news regarding events and product launches. Please turn AdBlock off in order to see these areas.