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Vanilla content will always be second best – argues Reflex CPO

Zoltan Tundik

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

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.

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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Week 3 slot games releases

George Miller

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Week 2/2019 slot games releases
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Check out this week’s latest slot game releases

 

RTG (Realtime Gaming), has launched a new slot game based on the life and times of an ancient Chinese empress called: Wu Zetian. Travel back to the days of China’s Tang Dynasty and meet Empress Wu Zetian in this historical slot game from RTG Asia. From January 2019, the Wu Zetian slot shall be playable on desktop and mobile devices across participating RTG Asia casinos.

RTG- Wu Zetian slot

 

iSoftBet, surprised us with the release of Jumbo Stampede to the wider market following a successful exclusivity period with multi-brand operator GVC. Jumbo Stampede, a 4×6 slot featuring 4096 pay ways set on the African plains, is the latest addition to the top-performing iSoftBet portfolio and is certified for all regulated markets including the UK, Belgium, Portugal, Estonia, etc.

iSoftBet unleashes Jumbo Stampede slot

 

True Flip Revealed their Crypto-Themed slot: Mining Factory With Plasmatron Bonus. Mining Factory is a highly volatile, 3×5 video slot with 27 paylines, Expanding Wilds, Free Spins and an accumulative Plasmatron Bonus. RTP is 96.1%, the Max win is 16,200x coin value. Featuring state of the art visuals, Mining Factory has a responsive design based on HTML5 and handles comfortably across a wide range of devices.

True Flip's Crypto-Themed Mining Factory slot

 

Blueprint Gaming is leading players into battle to compete for riches in its highly-charged new release Rome: Rise of an Empire. The 5×3 reel slot sees players take the role of a Roman Gladiator as they attempt to fight their way to greatness in front of a packed-out Colosseum

Blueprint Gaming- Rome: Rise of an Empire slot

 

Innovative slots and casino content supplier Kalamba Games invites players to a dystopian world where man meets machine with the release of its latest slot title: Machina. This new slot introduces a futuristic cityscape of cyborgs and robots full of exciting free-spins and bonus jackpots on a dynamic reel.

 Kalamba Games - Machina slot

 

Pragmatic Play, has expanded its portfolio with the launch of its new western-themed video slot Mustang Gold. The 3×5 reel, 25 payline slot is set in the Wild West and features traditional slot symbols, as well as cowboys, cowgirls and majestic horses that fill the reels, accompanied by golden winning symbols, such as horseshoes.

Pragmatic Play - Mustang Gold video slot

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Gambling in the USA

Caesars becomes the official casino for the NFL

Niji Ng

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Caesars becomes the official casino for the NFL
Photo Source: f1reader.com
Reading Time: 1 minute

 

Caesars Entertainment signed on as the official casino for the National Football League (NFL). But the deal has some significant shortcomings, so its value is much less than the rest of the jewels snagged by MGM Resorts , which has partnered with professional baseball, basketball, and hockey.

The deal between Caesars and the NFL gives it some opportunities, but because the football league cannot get past its opposition to sports gambling generally, it diminishes the potential.

Starting with the 2019 NFL playoffs, Caesars will have the right to use NFL trademarks, like the logo and the words “Super Bowl,” to promote its casinos and properties here and abroad to create “unique experiences” for fans.

The agreement only names Caesar’s the league’s official casino and specifically excludes sports betting, daily fantasy football leagues, and non-casino hotels and resorts. As a result, Caesar’s cannot use NFL trademarks to promote its sportsbooks. Since sports betting — and arguably fantasy football, too — are where the real potential is, Caesars is basically just getting the chance to advertise its casinos at games and related events.

Caesars’ deal is much less than what MGM Resorts has secured through its agreements with the other sports leagues. They allow MGM to use official league branding with both its casinos and its digital sports-betting operations.

 

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Industry News

Rank Group appoints Tang Hong Cheong as non-executive director

Niji Ng

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Rank Group appoints Tang Hong Cheong as non-executive director
Reading Time: 1 minute

 

The Malaysian executive, Tang Hong Cheong has been appointed as a non-executive director at UK gambling operator Rank Group Plc.

He served as President and CEO of Asian firm Guoco Group since 2016. Tang Hong Cheong has also worked as Chief Executive of Malaysian investment conglomerate Hong Leong Group. His expertise as a C-level executive includes corporate financing, risk management, transformation projects and strategic planning.

“I am pleased to welcome Hong Cheong to the Rank board. Hong Cheong has been working with the management of Rank since 2010 and has a broad understanding of the operational, financial and business aspects of the Company,” Rank Group Plc chairman Ian Burke said. He added: “With Hong Cheong joining the board, he will be able to further enhance the communication between Rank and its major shareholder and, with his extensive commercial experience, be able to bring valuable contributions to the Rank board.”

 

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