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Vanilla content will always be second best – argues Reflex CPO

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Ahead of ICE London 2019, Mat Ingram, CPO of independent developer, Reflex Gaming, explains why the commoditisation of content is a race to the bottom

Looking back on 2018 what have been the highlights and the key achievements in the online space for the Reflex brand?

2018 was a year characterised by strategic and steady expansion for Reflex in the online sector. We went live with five new top tier operators as well as numerous smaller operators courtesy of our existing distribution partnerships which continue to do well for us. We have adhered to our “quality over quantity” philosophy, resulting in six new game titles over the course of the year, all but one emanating from our market-leading portfolio of land-based content. We have forged new commercial relationships, worked with new development partners, and continued to learn a lot.  There’s no doubt that 2018 was an important and successful year.

How would you describe the main challenges for the online sector – is it facing a case of over supply?  Is there a danger of quantity subsuming quality when it comes to games content and what can be done about it?

For me, the sector is surprisingly slow-moving given its entirely-digital nature, but this is a symptom of the complex distribution routes that are now so prevalent, along with the hugely busy supply chain. Many planets have to align technically and strategically for a relatively simple event to occur, such as a game release. Compare this to our server-managed land-based machines, where I can develop a game in half the time and release it overnight to thousands of machines, but of course in this case I am in complete control of the tech stack and the content strategy, which helps enormously! The over-supply of what I would describe as vanilla, ‘global’ content has turned the previous art of game creation into a production line building commodity ‘widgets’ whose value to the supplier is measured in how low they can get their costs. This must, in turn, reduce quality, however this is not always immediately apparent. There are so many games being released that without any promotional activity (that the bigger suppliers can fund), one game performs much the same as another, thus perpetuating their commodity status. As such, I believe there is an increasing requirement for specialised, ‘hyper-local’ content – by which I refer to games that have been specifically created by suppliers with local expertise and experience for local players. As suppliers, we often have to modify our games anyway to suit local regulations and language, so there is already an existing idea that games must be localised, but I believe that it is also better for the user if the games with which they are presented are those that have been crafted for them rather than the one-size-fits-all approach that is often used. Reflex have some of the most successful games in the land-based markets in which we compete and we should leverage these with partners who have expertise in distributing hyper-local content.

Has your thinking on omni-channel gaming changed since ICE 2018 and if so where do you stand now?

No, my opinion hasn’t really changed on this. It may be sometimes difficult to quantify the benefits or produce empirical evidence of them, but intuitively I feel that it has to be better UX for a player to be able to move from one channel to another and play the content they know and enjoy on platforms that support a seamless transition from one place to another. Surely, if the player has a better experience whilst doing this, they are more likely to stay loyal to the retailer / operator and indeed the games? It just seems to make sense to me. This is why Reflex are talking to a number of operators who have both a land-based and an online presence about how we can work together to provide UK-specific, omni-channel games, and we are one of only a few suppliers who can do this.

How will Reflex be using ICE London 2019 and what does success look like?

We will be using ICE to showcase our diverse land-based and online product ranges. It’s one of the few opportunities we have to put everything together in the same space, and our omni-channel credibility becomes really apparent when you see it all together. The range includes UK and Dutch land-based machines of many styles and categories, through to purely online and mobile content, with the same design ethos running across all channels. The star of our land-base range is the GamePro cabinet which will this year include the new GamePro Max, a sit-down lounge-style machine. Our view is that whatever a player experiences in a land-based environment, they should be able to experience on their desktop or mobile within the confines of the devices. A successful exhibition for Reflex is mostly not about the number of contracts or deals we sign, as most of the hard work has been done on these prior to the show, but rather it is about how many new people we meet and new opportunities present themselves, and judging by the number of meeting requests we have already had, we should be in for a busy few days!

As an exhibitor do you get the opportunity to spend time walking the aisles at ExCeL and taking stock of the industry and the direction its travelling in – how important is it to do this?

I think this is hugely important, although being honest, I don’t get as much time to do it as I would like, as I am generally busy on the stand. However, I have a great team who come to the show and who act as my eyes and ears on market trends and important product innovations.  I wouldn’t say it’s a military style operation but we have regular catch-ups whilst the exhibition is in progress and they take me to see the things and meet the people that have caught their eye. I am a firm believer that Reflex should stand independently with respect to innovation and not succumb to parodying the ideas of others, but that said, it is important to know and understand what other market sector participants are doing and why.

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Kinetix launches world first user-generated AI-powered Emotes for gaming & metaverse

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Kinetix launches world first user-generated AI-powered Emotes for gaming & metaverse
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Kinetix, a pioneering 3D animation and AI tech startup, today proudly launches its revolutionary user-generated emotes for video games and virtual worlds, signifying a vital first step towards true self-expression in gaming and the metaverse.

The Kinetix generative AI-powered platform and no-code editing tools enable users, creators, video game makers, metaverse platforms, and brands to create and edit animated 3D content in seconds. This democratizes the process of creating custom 3D animated content, extending to millions of people a skill set that was previously limited to a few thousand trained artists and animators.

Today, Kinetix launches the first ever user-generated emotes to tackle the challenge of limited self-expression in gaming and metaverse worlds. Emotes are animations that can express emotion in video games and virtual worlds, such as dances, celebrations and gestures. Uniquely, emotes made with Kinetix can work in any avatar-based video game or metaverse, and fit effortlessly into any virtual environment from hyper-realism to voxel blocky worlds.

Yassine Tahi, CEO and Co-founder of Kinetix, commented:

“We want to champion a new standard for self-expression in video games and metaverse worlds by opening up the creation of emotes. Our emotes are live now for anyone to create, marking a true watershed moment for digital self-expression and our mission to humanize the metaverse.”

He added, “A once in a lifetime concert without dancing, or a drag queen show without ‘Death Drop’ are missed opportunities for self-expression, realism, individuality, and human connection. We invite everyone to embrace this new trend by playing with our easy-to-use, no-code platform and trying out their best moves on their favorite character or avatar.”

Creators can own their emotes by taking up the option to ‘mint’ them on the Kinetix platform: transforming them into digital assets called ‘Emote NFTs’. With the Kinetix marketplace, creators can then promote and monetize their work and receive 95% of the sale price, creating a fairer revenue model. Brands and IP owners can also use Kinetix tech to make custom emotes. In November 2022, Kinetix teamed up with TF1 and BBC Studios to launch an exclusive collection for international TV hit ‘Dancing With The Stars’.

Founded in Paris in 2020 by CEO Yassine Tahi and CTO Henri Mirande, Kinetix has a team of 45 and was recently named by WIRED as one of the hottest startups in Paris. Earlier this year, Kinetix raised $11 million in seed funding in a round led by Adam Ghobarah, founder of Top Harvest Capital, with participation from Sparkle Ventures, and multiple virtual world platforms and successful entrepreneurs. Kinetix already has established partnerships with leading and emerging virtual worlds including Roblox, The Sandbox, ZEPETO, Decentraland, and PolyLand.

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Blueprint Gaming flaunts its talent with Ballin’

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Blueprint Gaming flaunts its talent with Ballin’
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Blueprint Gaming’s latest slot release turns players into ‘playas’ in Ballin’, a game that demonstrates its versatility in game design.

Sun-soaked boulevards and exclusive marinas provide the backdrop for the achingly cool and confident big cats that supply the symbols, along with big bling watches and jewellery across five reels in a 3x4x4x4x3 configuration.

There are 576 pay ways and multiplying wilds that offer the potential for big wins, while triggering The Big Balls Free Spins activates sticky multiplying wilds. Each wild can be up to x3, with each one boosting the next for baller wins.

Triggering the Even Bigger Balls Free Spins bonus round rewards with Super Star Wilds. If one lands in view, it turns that position and all above it into multiplying wilds. If a whole reel is filled it awards two extra spins and any wilds that are already in view are upgraded to x3 wilds.

Ballin’ delivers a dose of high-rolling bling and a generous helping of Blueprint’s signature sense of fun and humour to a slot that highlights its flexibility as a studio in developing a wide range of themes and playstyles to a high standard.

Jo Purvis, Director of Key Accounts and Marketing UK at Blueprint Gaming, said: “Ballin’ has been a huge amount of fun to create and has allowed our development team to run wild with exquisite animation, lending a real sparkle to make the gameplay shine.

“Two bonus rounds offer the chance for players to show they’ve got some real balls in their hunt for wins!”

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GAMZIX HAS JOINED THE DIVERSE QUANTUM GAMING PORTFOLIO

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GAMZIX HAS JOINED THE DIVERSE QUANTUM GAMING PORTFOLIO
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Thanks to Gamzix, one of the hottest new game developers out there, with whom we signed a distribution deal, our versatile iGaming library is unstoppably growing.

We are all witnessing the constant evolution of the iGaming market, where new trends and fashions are popping up from every corner. Though a tremendous number of software companies are there, trying to gain traction with their products, only a few are really up to the task and capable of following these rapid changes.

And Gamzix definitely cuts the mustard.

With its ultra-fresh approach to iGaming development, Gamzix has become one of the top-rated and most promising slot providers in the online gambling sphere. Its game portfolio boasts over 30 unique slots of the highest quality – full of innovative features, realistic animation, colorful graphics, and impressive payouts.

All of them are now available on the Quantum Gaming platform, including the most popular and new ones, like Sunny Coin: Hold the Spin, Rich Granny, Gold Mania, 3X3: Hell spin, and 3х3: 27 ways. We undoubtedly believe that our vast network of casino operators will benefit from these cutting-edge slot games.

Oliver de Bono, Quantum Gaming CEO, expressed his contentment with this partnership:

“It’s fantastic to cooperate with such a fast-growing company. Over the past years, the industry has seen extreme popularity growth, so the biggest buzz is how to stand out from the crowd. I believe onboarding partners like Gamzix will definitely help us to achieve that.”

Lida Kosogova, CCO at Gamzix, opened up about upcoming cooperation: “We are proud not just of our team, but of partners who support us. Growing and becoming stronger together is such an amazing opportunity we fully trust. And Gamzix is ​​ready to bring and take the best. I’m proud that Gamzix games became a part of the Quantum Gaming portfolio. There’s no doubt, our cooperation will be successful and prosperous”.

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