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Exclusive interview with Saverio Castellano, co-founder, research director and CTO at GameArt

Zoltan Tundik

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

Our latest interviewee is well know in the online gambling industry, especially in the Omni-channel development. Saverio Castellano is the co-founder, research director and CTO at GameArt, a boutique Omni-channel development studio of customised casino applications and slot games to the online, social and land-based casino verticals, with offices in Malta, Slovenia, and Serbia.  Saverio holds a Ph.D. in Particle Physics and is an igaming industry veteran with 12 years of software and mathematics slots development.

I would like to thank you for spending time to answer our questions. You have rich experience in gaming and gambling industries as one can read in your biography, you are “an Igaming industry veteran with 12 years of software and mathematics slots development.” Why did you choose gaming, or may I ask: did the industry choose you? What do you think?

Saverio: From an early age, I was always inquisitive to how everything worked. This led me to study, one of my passions, science and in particular the field of Nuclear Physics. Within Physics, applied mathematics is essential for developing abstract concepts, problem-solving and the practical application of those models.

After completing my Ph.D., I started my career in computer science and software development, gaining extensive experience in design architecture, and an enterprise-level backend for mobile applications. I always had an interest in slots and the iGaming sector which was rapidly growing in Italy, and my first adventure into the world of gaming, was as Head Mathematician of Sogei, the Games and RNG regulator for the Italian state monopoly AAMS, and the rest, as they say, is history.

What role do you undertake in the company’s life? What are your tasks and responsibilities?

Saverio: My role within the GameArt business, which I co-founded, is I’m the research director and CTO. Overall I’m responsible for the company’s development studios, the management of our engineers, delivery and support teams in Malta, Slovenia and Serbia. This includes the product roadmap, from conception, to prototype to production of slots, for our clients that have Omni-channel businesses across online, social and land-based.

Since the start of GameArt, I have also been the one that invents the concepts of all our slots designs the mathematics, and I have built the foundation of the technologies that the company has been using so far: namely our game server and the game client technology that we rely on to develop our games.

As a business, we are continually striving to be adaptive to fast-changing technologies and part of my remit is to source, and research how the latest tech can be used within our business and more importantly by applied within the regulated iGaming ecosystem.

Will you please tell us about the difficulties and successes you have experienced during your career?

Saverio: In answering this question I will refer to my experience with GameArt only. Otherwise, there’d be too much to say here. What has enabled GameArt to start and become in such a short time a successful business is entirely the ideas, experience, and expertise of me and the other two partners who founded the company.

When we were still in a start-up phase, there were many potential venture capitalists that would be interested in investing in GameArt. Again, we decided to do everything with our own strength. This definitely made things harder and a lot more challenging especially in the initial phase. I have learned that becoming an essential player in the gambling market it is not only about having great games, but you also need to go through the whole process of acquiring licenses, getting the games certified, establishing your name, and deal with a lot of other things.

Despite the significant challenge, we succeeded and had made all of this without a consistent upfront investment, and this is what I consider our most significant success.

GameArt is a leading-provider of high-quality digital gaming. Please speak about this company, its activity and its goals.

Saverio: Since its inception, GameArt has been focusing on producing slot games only. Slot games are what we like, what our expertise is, what we do well.

Our mission derives from the consideration that there is a gap between the quality of the slot games in the online gaming world and one of the best performing slots that you find in the world’s best casinos and more generally in the class III world. In creating our portfolio of slot games, we have been aiming to fill this gap, producing high-quality slots with outstanding graphics and solid mathematics. Because of this, even focusing mainly on online gaming we have been able to expand our business to the landbased world as well.

Which are the most successful, most popular products you offer to your clients?

Saverio: The success of our product stems from the ability to release game titles that appeal to different markets and different player demographics. If we look at our range of slot games, there are games like Money Farm 2 and Dragon Lady that are among the best performers in Europe, and games like Dragon King and King Of Monkeys that are much appreciated by Chinese players and are doing very well in Asian markets.

Our product offering is completed with a cutting-edge gaming platform that offers our clients powerful features and marketing tools to promote games and maximize revenues, such as multi-level and multi-currency jackpots, free spins, tournaments, and campaigns.

Tell us please about the future plans, projects of GameArt.

Saverio: Our current goals are to maximize revenues and get a bigger slice of the markets in Asia and Italy where we are already doing quite well.

Having completed the certification process for some of the most stringent regulated markets, our next goal is to approach big operators and at the same time extend the certification to other countries where we are still not operating. Completing the process of acquiring the UK license is our most important short-term goal at the moment.

We are also looking at blockchain technologies, and we recently made a prototype which consists in having integrated our game server with the Ethereum blockchain so that people can play our slots directly on the blockchain and have all gameplay provably verifiable. This is an exciting topic which we will continue to explore and pioneer during this year.

I would like to ask you a more personal question. In what ways does work influence your personal life, your personal growth and what does success mean to you?

Saverio: Work and personal life in my case are entirely entwined. I like it to be this way since I chose to be part of this industry because I understood that it enables you to have a very dynamic life and keep yourself busy doing exciting things.

The influence that my work has had on my personal life is enormous, and it is not limited to the economic side as it allowed me to travel the world, to meet great people and to do fantastic, challenging experiences.

The meaning of success is comprehensive, in my case; it has to do with the amount of freedom and control of my own time.

 

ABOUT GAMEART

GameArt is a premium developer of slot games to the online and land-based gaming industry, including leading online operators, video-lottery suppliers, and casino game machine manufacturers.

New licensees include established operators looking to expand or diversify their games offering, fast-growing challenger-brands looking to increase market-share, and start-up operators, including those targeting newly-regulated markets.

GameArt’s core technology provides a true multiplatform capability and its game management system provides licensees extensive integration options, high-level bonus, and CRM capabilities, plus predictive business intelligence tools to help maximize game-player retention and improve ROI.

For more details, visit www.gameart.net

After starting out as an affiliate in 2009 and developing some recognized review portals, I have moved deeper into journalism and media. My experience has lead me to move into the B2B sector and write about compliance updates and report around the happenings of the online and land based gaming sector.

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Interviews

Hyperion playing hard for a win-win all round

George Miller

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Hyperion playing hard for a win-win all round
Stav Zilbershtein, CEO and founder, Hyperion
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Stav Zilbershtein will be unveiling Hyperion’s new iGaming integrations team shortly and as a sneak preview of what the industry can expect from this pioneering development the phrase ‘creating powerful technology driven solutions’, gives a pretty good idea of where Zilbershtein is heading.

Hyperion is launching the iGaming integrations team – what is the service about and how does it benefit brands and platform providers?
We realised that many platform providers are constantly being approached by their clients with integration requirements. These can range from implementing game providers to payment providers and other custom 3rd party services. Most platform providers don’t want to occupy their core technology team with such requests because they are not setup to support their clients in the form of an agency. On the other hand, the reality is so that platform providers that can’t cooperate with the requirements of their clients and cannot provide them with the freedom and flexibility that they need will lose their clients. This is where our team comes into play. We allow platform providers to partner with us and leave this particular type of work to the Hyperion iGaming integrations team. This is a win win for all platform providers in the industry and for their clients.

How successful is it proving to be?
It feels like the most natural step for us. Being based strongly in the iGaming sphere we developed the expertise through our experience in the past years. For platform providers that don’t have such custom services unit it makes total sense and we get highly positive responses. Partnerships form fast and without much effort. For brands that we come across that are new or in the process of fast growth we see it as the fastest and most economically efficient solution.

What can brands achieve from working with the Hyperion integrations team?
No matter which platform provider the brand is based on, we can always assist with integrations of any 3rd party solution that the platform supports. Some brands have ideas for various mobile or web based apps and all of those visions require a fast agile provider that can manifest these apps in reality. With the knowledge and experience we have accumulated in the iGaming niche it is the path of least resistance for any fast growing brand.

Who do you look to partner with moving forward?
We constantly talk to all active big and small platform providers. From casino and game providers to sports betting platform providers, sports data providers and payment providers. If your solution is not mentioned on our iGaming integrations page we strongly invite you to contact us and establish a partnership with Hyperion. It’s a win win from all sides.

What do you aim to achieve this year with the integrations team?
We want to enable the flexibility to create powerful technology driven solutions to all brands and all clients of the popular platform providers. This year the market is getting much more sophisticated than what it used to be and only those that will be able to drive strong technological based solutions to their players will survive. We are here to enable that to any brand that realises that reality.

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Interviews

Exclusive interview with Stuart Godfree, Managing Director and co-founder, mkodo

George Miller

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Exclusive interview with Stuart Godfree, Managing Director and co-founder, mkodo
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Stuart Godfree co-founded mkodo with Sue Yoxall in 2001, taking the opportunity to bring an innovative technology-based service to the rapidly developing gaming market. Recently, Stuart founded mkodo’s Evolve Scheme, a graduate scheme investing in the next generation of talented individuals who want to progress a career in the mobile applications technology field.

 

You offer apps and digital products to the betting, gaming and lottery sectors, what do you think is the most important thing operators need to consider in terms of their digital experience offering?

Having a strong digital offering is no longer an option but a necessity for all operators and suppliers in the gambling industry. We work with several lotteries and traditionally this has been a product popular with the older generation who would buy and check the outcome of the draw in a retail environment. But nowadays, people are using their mobile phones for everyday tasks and this includes leisure activities such as betting and gaming. People have got used to the convenience of having everything just one click away and expect an easy, effortless user experience. For the lottery industry, this could for example mean a fully transactable experience; an app that offers the functionality to log in, deposit funds, check lottery tickets and withdraw winnings without unnecessary friction.

You work with several National and State lotteries. Would you say they are falling behind in the fast-paced digital development?

Although it can be argued that lotteries were late to the party when it comes to adapting to the online environment, we’re now seeing a sizeable shift in attitudes. For lotteries to benefit from all the opportunities provided by the digital world, they must be bold in embracing new technologies and trends. This is particularly crucial to engage the mobile savvy younger generations. We have seen with our operating partners that with a slick and efficient online or mobile offering, no audience is unattainable. Of course, as with any industry, there is room for improvement and challenges remain. Regulators world-over are tightening up on legislation while Apple is following suit with its own restrictions on the App Store guidelines, troubling digitalisation. But the ambition is finally there, and that’s an important step in the right direction. We recently gained a membership to the World Lottery Association and are partnered with some of the biggest names in the industry such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation. It’s great to see that implementing an innovative digital strategy is a top priority for the lotteries we work with and operators have proven that they are able to keep up with rapidly changing consumer preferences in an online world.

You have recently worked on a project together with Teesside University, could you tell us a bit about that?

This was part of our “innovate together” competition that we launched to see if we could generate solutions to one of the biggest challenges that lotteries around the world are currently facing; attracting and retaining the younger generation. As mentioned, traditional lotteries are seen to be a preferred game of choice for older generations of 55-64, where 87% of lottery tickets are still bought in retail stores. So, who better to address the challenge of engaging a younger audience than millennials themselves? We asked students at Teesside University to come up with a solution that bridges the gap between traditional lotteries and the younger generations, in line with responsible gambling regulations and charitable beneficiary obligations. We heard four presentations packed with great ideas and well-developed arguments. We’re now developing these innovative ideas with the students and we’re excited to showcase them soon.

Apple has recently started enforcing their guidelines 4.2 and 4.7, could you tell us a bit more about the implications this could have for the betting and gaming industry?

Apple’s restrictions on nativity and real money games have served as a double blow to the industry. For a lot of operators, repacking a HTML website in a native container was standard practice for their mobile applications. But that approach will no longer work under the new guidelines and has the potential to impact the industry massively in terms of app re-development time and cost.

On top of that, the 4.7 restriction has potential to be even more damaging, particularly for operators that have a high level of native functionality but include third-party casino games. As Apple will no longer accept games that have been ‘side-loaded’, as we call it, operators are left with a difficult decision: either abandon their iOS application and move solely to website distribution channels, or work with game developers to embed top titles with the application code. Both options come with pitfalls, however, the full extent of how these restrictions will truly impact the industry is yet to be realised.

What can we expect from mkodo in 2019?

We’ve been helping our clients and partners understand their obligations and responsibilities with the revised Apple Guidelines, as well as developing strategies to minimise the impact amongst operators in the wider betting and gaming industry. We will continue to do this and will advise on what happens beyond the September 3rd deadline. More widely, our business in Canada and North America continues to go from strength to strength and we’re looking forward to making valuable new partnerships in the region.

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Industry News

Using data to detect insights is a precise science, argues Parimatch Chief Data Officer

George Miller

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Using data to detect insights is a precise science, argues Parimatch Chief Data Officer
Rostyslav Maikovych – Chief Data Officer at Parimatch
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Rostyslav Maikovych – Chief Data Officer at Parimatch, provides an insight to his presentation at iGB Live! and the challenge of generating reliable data in a post GDPR era, the critical task of drawing as much value from usable data as possible and an exploration of the key metrics that businesses can deploy.

 

Is data like oil in so far as it has to be refined to be meaningful.  No one would put crude oil in a jet plan for example?
Collecting data is only the first stage, but it is essential. To effectively use the data in the processes of business intelligence and machine learning, it needs to be processed correctly, verified and transformed if needed to ensure that everything is correct and accurate and prepared for analysis. Data should be verified based on both accuracy and context. Machine learning requires the right set of features that can be used in ML.
Usually, for normalized data, you need to prepare a relational data warehouse where all information about clients, their behaviour and transactions is aggregated. Then from this repository, you can take data and discover insights, prepare samples for the development of predictive models such as response prediction, or churn prediction, to activate the client on time before he/she loses interest in the service.
You can collect a lot of different data. It can be structured and unstructured data from e-mail, social media, logs, client profile, history of the transaction, etc. In this regard, the search for insights – hidden patterns and features in data sets – is similar to the search for golden sand in a heap of ore. However, it’s still possible.

With so many data breaches how do we build trust with consumers?
We ask for a minimum of personal data. We save all the information we receive, and we do not pass it on to third parties. We take care of the personal data as if it is our own.  The primary source for insights is the behaviour of customers and their bets. Due to it, we divide clients into segments, and we can make targeted offers that are interesting to the particular client. Clients benefit from receiving fewer uninteresting mailings and having more exciting bonus and activation proposals that are tailored to each customer.

Do you think consumers now appreciate the value of their data?
I suspect that they do not notice how much data is being transmitted – clicks, bets, markets, teams they bet on. It is difficult for a person to remember what he/she was interested in over one or another period. Moreover, we aggregate and analyse this information to create a more efficient customer journey and relevant content. At the same time, customers get many benefits – such as less spam as well as more interesting and targeted suggestions.
They give more valuable information, for example, to Google – all the search queries and keywords they were looking for. As a result, they are persistently plagued with advertisements that are mostly irrelevant. It’s easier to feel the value of information in this case as you can see the direct result of collecting something close to you. We do not have such an effect with our data. We are only interested in their preferences towards sports and their behaviour on the site.

How do you draw maximum value from usable data and what are the key metrics?
We must take into account what the business requirements and objectives are. If the primary objective is to achieve an increase in conversion, it will be necessary to analyse which clients are better converted and why, at what stages do we encounter the most significant problems, where it is necessary to make a shorter application form or to change the location of the buttons. The metric here is the sales funnel and conversion rate on each step, namely, its increase after fixing the detected flaws in the processes.
Should the organisation want to quickly grow its share on the new market, we need to analyze what sports events and types of bonuses involve most customers, test different types of campaigns for the acquisition, analyse their effectiveness, and use the best. In this case the metrics are the monthly growth of active users, daily active users and additional profit.
Frequently an organisation’s focus is to increase retention rate. We need to identify at what stages there is the most significant outflow. The strategy would be to give customers an offer that is interesting to them or content that enhances their engagement and brings them back to us on the site. For example, the highest level of outflow appears in the first two weeks among a particular segment of clients. We assign our main activities on them, improve onboarding, send them more exciting offers and announcements. The metric here is the retention rate.

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