Connect with us
SIS

Interviews

Exclusive Q&A with Iustin Cojocaru owner of Eyenovation (Gunnar representative for Romania and Hungary)

George Miller

Published

on

Exclusive Q&A with Iustin Cojocaru owner of Eyenovation (Gunnar representative for Romania and Hungary)
Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Tell us about the history and current status of Gunnars Glasses.

Iustin: The idea for the glasses was born out of one woman’s frustration with her husband’s digitally induced migraines and worry about the eyes of her child who was fascinated by technology. Jenny Michelsen’s husband, Matt, was suffering from headaches after hours sitting in front of six computer screens. The headaches were a symptom of Computer Vision Syndrome, a collection of minor ailments that build up over time.

As the Rancho Santa Fe woman urged her husband to see a doctor, she wondered whether her 3-year-old son, Gunnar, was getting a jump-start on similar problems.  If she and her husband believed the computers were getting to their eyes – and they didn’t start using electronics until they were in their 20s – what would happen to Gunnar’s generation?  Matt and Jenny Michelsen reached out to their close friend, Joe Croft, a former Oakley engineer, about the issues surrounding CVS.  They wanted to learn more about the effects of focusing on a digital image projected on a screen just inches from one’s face for hours at a time and years on end.  The Crofts and the Michelsens began their five-year road to launch by talking to medical experts.  One of those experts was Dr. Jeffrey Anschel, a Carlsbad, California, optometrist who has become an expert in Computer Vision Syndrome and Visual Ergonomics.  He noticed the problem about 17 years ago when employees of a nearby computer company began complaining about dry and tired eyes and difficulty focusing.

They were problems that people generally didn’t experience until they were in their 40s, but these patients were in their early 30s.  It didn’t take him long to make the connection between their work and the required time spent in front of a computer screen.  “You can work, shop, communicate and do just about everything from your computer now, and people just don’t realize how much time they’re spending looking at the screen.  The digital images that computers project are one factor contributing to Computer Vision Syndrome.  The eye focuses on the hard edge of an image, but digital images don’t have a clean edge.  As a result, the focus drifts forward and back, causing eye fatigue.” Anschel also noted, “that when people spend long periods focusing on something close to their face, eye muscles tend to lock into a singular position, which is tiring and can push the eye down the path to becoming farsighted.  Meanwhile, the eye has to deal with light from conflicting sources, such as sunlight, that are much brighter than the computer screen.  There’s also glare from the light shining into the eyes.  And the angle of view for the computer screen, which is straight ahead, isn’t desirable.  People tend to focus better at objects when looking down, such as reading a book.”

Croft and Michelsen set out to create a product that addresses the issues associated with digital eye-strain.  They completed their first prototype in 2006.  In early 2007, they founded the company and in October of 2008 they launched their first product.   Investors included Carl Zeiss Vision, 50 Cent, Peter Thiel and Monster, Inc. Retail customers include Amazon, Best Buy, Fry’s, GameStop and Staples. Corporate customers include Facebook, Google, Microsoft.

Gunnar is present in Romania since 2015, when I began experiencing Computer Vision Syndrome symptoms after spending hours in front of two screens as a Poker player and began to look for a solution. This is how I’ve learned about Gunnar glasses being the no.1 brand among computer glasses brands and the next step was to become Gunnar representative in Romania and now also in Hungary.

 

Let us talk about the gaming glasses now. Do we really need customized special glasses for gaming?

Iustin: Yes, if we tend to be passionate gamers, we end up spending extended hours in front of our screens and we experience blurred vision, eye strain, and headaches – symptoms of Digital Eye Strain and Computer Vision Syndrome. Some compensate for their blurred vision by leaning forward, or by tipping their head to look through the bottom portion of their glasses. Both actions can result in a sore neck, sore shoulders and a sore back. GUNNAR gaming eyewear can help because is engineered to reduce digital eye strain while increasing contrast, comfort, and focus. And what is different for the gaming styles, compared to the computer styles produced by Gunnar is the shape of the temples that comfortably accommodates headsets.

  

What about gaming developers and others who work in gaming companies. How will they benefit from the gaming glasses?

Iustin: They can benefit too, because Gunnar glasses are made for anyone who works and plays on a digital screen for extended periods of time.  Gunnar also makes glasses without the yellow tint – with CLEAR lenses, for those who work in “true colour”, such as gaming developers, graphic designers, digital artists.

 

What make gaming glasses special? What are the differences, for example, these glasses have with normal common-use glasses?

Iustin: Gaming glasses and computer glasses developed by Gunnar, with their amber-tinted lenses, make images appear clearer and sharper by adding contrast and, very important, filter out blue light. The lenses have an anti-glare filter that allows light from the computer in but keeps out distracting reflected light from other sources.  The lenses are also designed to be fitted close to the face, creating a “micro-climate” that keeps away the dry air currents and prevents dryness of the eyes. GUNNAR GAMING glasses, compared to GUNNAR COMPUTER glasses, have a more ergonomic shape and thin temples that are compatible with wearing headsets.

 

How do you ensure lower weighing frames for these glasses? Does the lower weight affect the durability of the glasses?

Iustin: GUNNAR has many styles to choose from. Some frames are lighter than others. GAMING frames are usually lighter and therefore more comfortable during long gaming sessions. These light frames are good quality ad durable frames – such as RAZER FPS, RAZER RPG, Torpedo, Trooper, Vayper, Heroes of the Storm.

                                                             

I have seen some articles about using wide-angled lenses for gaming glasses. Could you elaborate on this point?

Iustin: Yes, especially for gaming, a wide-angled lens provides a panoramic view, as the frame does not interfere with the viewing field of the gamer “caught in action”.

 

Now on to the business front. How has been the business going during this period of lock down. Some reports suggest that an increasing number of people playing games online. Does it reflect on your business?

Iustin: Yes, this has been a quite good period for our business and as our business is mainly online, we are running at full speed right now as work from home extended the hours we work in front of a digital screen and gamers play more while staying home. People became more conscious of spending long hours in front of digital screens and reached out to us to protect their eyes.

 

What are the best ways to buy the gaming glasses of Gunnars Glasses during the lock down?

Iustin: The best way to buy Gunnar glasses is definitely online. For Romania and Hungary our online shop is www.gunnars.ro. We are offering online advice on our chat and we implemented the “virtual try-on” feature on our site that enables anyone to try-on most of our styles.

 

Finally, what are the new innovations and offers that you have in store for post-COVID-19 situation? The gaming community is eager to hear any such announcements.

Iustin: Gunnar releases new frames each year and this year is no exception. At the beginning there was only the Amber lens that has a 65 BLUE LIGHT PROTECTION FACTOR – BLPF (filters out 65% of the blue light). Then Gunnar added the Clear lens with a 35 BLPF, the Sun lens that has a 90 BLPF and also Amber Max lens with a 98 BLPF, designed to be used before going to sleep or for extremely sensitive eyes. In July, Gunnar will be launching CRUZ for kids from 4 to 8 Year Olds and for kids from 8 to 12 Year Olds, as this was a concern from the beginning: children spend more and more time in front of screens and the parents want to protect their kids as much as they can. Right now, in May a new style was launched: Pendleton. Four new exciting gaming styles will be launched this summer – Lightning Bolt 360, Lightning Bolt 360 RAZER Edition, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and a new design in partnership with Razer: MOBA. For those who are more on the hip and “vintage look” side, there will be a new style called Berkely, in September.

Eastern Europe

“As the CIS’s second largest country, we’re looking at one of Europe’s greatest growth opportunities.” Exclusive Ukraine interview with BetGames.TV’s Yury Mikhaylov

George Miller

Published

on

BetGames.TV - Yury Ukraine interview
Reading Time: 3 minutes

With the stage now set for history in the making, Ukraine is preparing to open its market for the first time in more than a decade.

Proven as one of Europe’s most in-demand live casino suppliers and headquartered in neighbouring Vilnius, we caught up with BetGames.TV’s CIS Sales Director Yury Mikhaylov to get his views on Ukraine’s potential, as well as his own plans for the market.

With BetGames.TV gearing up to bring its products to the Ukrainian market in the near-term, how do you see prospects here?

As the CIS’s second largest country, we’re looking at one of Europe’s greatest growth opportunities. Infrastructure factors, such as widespread internet access and the prevalence of online banking, have laid a great foundation for a digital-first approach from the outset. Twinned with a market crammed with tech savvy players, and you’re looking at a serious boost for national revenue with plenty of potential for online casino, making it an exciting time for all involved.

I would encourage anyone who remains sceptical of the benefits of regulation to consider the example offered by neighbouring Georgia (on a smaller population scale of course!). The country has improved player safety, widened consumer choice and boosted the national economy by attracting new investment. For that reason, it’s pleasing to see Ukraine follow the example set by several other regional European markets by putting a framework in place to establish its own gambling industry, and we look forward to playing a part in the market’s development.

Has BetGames.TV already established a footprint in the region? Are there any further steps which the regulator needs to take before you do so in Ukraine?

We already have a well-established network with Ukraine’s biggest global hitters (such as Favbet and Parimatch), who, as regional heavyweights, are going to be key in shaping how the market develops in its early stages. Both operate an extensive network across the CIS and Europe, and we are on excellent terms with them given the number of jurisdictions we’re actively working in together.

On a macro level, the Ukrainian regulator has certainly taken steps in the right direction, although having said that, several inconsistencies remain within the proposed framework, which the authorities must work to clarify in order to fully realise all the advantages of regulation. I’m confident this will be addressed and look forward to seeing updates on this soon enough.

And what are your plans for the market going forward?

From what we’ve seen so far, I’m certain that the full legalisation and improved transparency of the Ukrainian market will add a wealth of new opportunities for us, particularly when it comes to online casino.

We’ve been hugely successful in Belarus in a similar format – where we went online with the country’s first digital offering (launched by Parimatch) and have already outperformed every slot supplier on the market there. We also offer far superior margins to our competitors, and in many cases, theseare greater than sports betting itself, so I see plenty of potential for us to sit alongside newly established Ukrainian sportsbooks too without cannibalising spend.

Accordingly, I believe we’re in a strong position to capitalise on the Ukrainian market’s likely huge customer base as soon as we go live there, and I’m sure we’ll prove to be key in helping operators make their mark on the territory. As well as our award-winning live dealer offering (fully developed in-house), we’ve also got a raft of marketing and promotional services that are going to be tailored to a jurisdiction where we are already familiar with what players are looking for.

How do you envisage Ukraine’s commercial landscape will shape up in the coming years? Do you expect to see a lot of competition?

New market entries require considerable resources. Compliance procedures can be complex, time-consuming and geographically differentiated. For that reason, local knowledge and contact networks tend to play an important role. Ukraine is no different: with a high bar set for entry, many anticipate that the territory’s commercial future belongs to those who are already present within it.

Of course, given a population of close to 40 million, we’re dealing with one of Europe’s largest markets in terms of potential– so I’m sure plenty of our international operator friends and partners will also be eyeing it with interest. Given how pivotal we have been this year in boosting global partners’ operating revenue and acquisition efforts, I’m also sure we’ll prove ourselves to be a valuable asset in helping our partners’ operations get going there as soon as they go live.

Continue Reading

Interviews

The value of exclusive content with Andy Sekula and Marcin Kalbarczyk

George Miller

Published

on

The value of exclusive content with Andy Sekula and Marcin Kalbarczyk
Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Kalamba Games have worked with Kindred on producing new timed-exclusive Ducks Till Dawn.  Ahead of the release we caught up with Andy Sekula, Head of Games at Kalamba, and Marcin Kalbarczyk, Kindred’s Senior Casino Product Manager, to discuss how exclusive titles benefit both supplier and operator, and how the title came to be.

Why did you guys decide to get together to develop exclusive content? What’s the thinking behind making exclusive titles?

AS: It’s great for us, the supplier, because we can leverage operators’ experience and knowledge of the player base when working on the game. It’s a true feedback loop that gives real weight to the design process and puts our developers much closer to our end user, and also gives us insight into the marketing machinery of an operator, which is different to our own.

There are of course also commercial benefits – both in the sharing of development cost and in that we can see two peaks in terms of bets – the exclusive release and later, the release on the network.

MK: For the operator, being able to offer a product that is not available anywhere else, is a very strong, unique selling point. Exclusive games are a great way to differentiate ourselves from competition, especially these days when content saturation in the igaming industry is rapidly increasing.

The second reason, like Andy says, is the commercial reason. Our data from recent years proves that the reduced revenue share makes a massive difference, especially when so many marketing activities are focused on our exclusive releases.

Lastly, we are the experts who know our customer base. Through analysis of features from hundreds released slots, we are able to determine which ones have the highest chance of best performance. By building an exclusive game in collaboration with an experienced studio, we get a chance to implement that knowledge.

What are the benefits for both parties in having suppliers dedicate a game to one single operator?

MK: For both emerging and established suppliers, it’s a great boost for reputation to have their game released exclusively with a big operator. With so much marketing focus being directed at these games, it’s obvious that their reach will be stronger than any regular release.
The financial side is also a strong benefit. Through the upfront fee, suppliers get to partially, or even fully, cover their production cost. In exchange for that, we get a chance to create a game according to our guidelines.

AS: Exactly, there are great benefits for us in working closely with operators when building games, but for the operator having a potential hit on exclusivity will drive more users to the casino and also make the current player base stay engaged for longer in anticipation of content that’s not available elsewhere.

Where does the balance sit in creating a game that is in keeping with the studio’s style yet meets the requirements of the operator?

AS: The most important thing is to find the chemistry between operators’ needs, which are the expression of what makes players excited, and what the supplies feel strong at. In other words there must be a chemistry which I’m pleased to say was in full effect on the production of Ducks Till Dawn! In our experience it’s quite rare to find ‘hard’ requirements as much of the game development process is truly a creative one, but there may be some themes or math models that resonate better than others with a particular operator’s audience, or indeed an operator’s priority list at any given time.

MK: Yes, an open-minded approach is very important here. Sometimes operators want a specific type of game and they look for a supplier that specialises in that particular area, let’s say a cluster slot or a 3×3 one. Then they are comfortable with handing over the production to them because they know this is the kind of game they do best. They don’t have to be included that much.

The situation can be completely the opposite when the operator has unique needs or is trying to introduce innovation in regard to mechanics and features. Then the supplier’s flexibility becomes a priority.
During the Ducks Till Dawn production, the flexibility of Kalamba Games team and some of their already proven mechanics were a perfect mixture.

How did the process of collaboration work between Kalamba and Kindred when creating Ducks Till Dawn?

MK: We worked with a number of suppliers throughout 2018-19 and then in 2020 and Kalamba was very smooth and straightforward to collaborate with. Sometimes suppliers have their set vision of the game and don’t like to implement drastic changes proposed by the operator. Kalamba was very flexible on that point and accommodated all of our feedback on what we thought would resonate with our customers better, which made this a great cooperation.

AS: It went really smoothly, because we all liked the core mechanics of the game which we considered for a while and later decided would be expressed as CASH DUCKS, which we imported from a land based slot. We’ve had regular meetings and a lot of valuable feedback from the Kindred guys, which allowed us to get a better understanding of what might potentially make players feel excited.

Are there any specific features in DtD that you think will particularly appeal to Kindred players?

MK: Definitely the Cash Ducks. This was initially inspired by a slot machine from the  land-based casino segment. The Kalamba team showed it to us on one of the first meetings and together we developed it together into a unique mechanic. We all thought it would work very well if the instant win symbols would move horizontally across the screen and that’s when the amusement park shooting range idea was born. Since the release date was already planned just before Halloween, it made sense to add a bit of spooky atmosphere. A great title completed the theme perfectly.

AS:  For sure, we’re also confident that the SpinBoost feature will be a big hit because it allows players to have a slightly longer target to hit which makes the game more entertaining and more exciting for a longer period.

More generally, are we seeing greater collaboration between operators and suppliers in the game development process? Do you expect we will see more of these types of collaborations?

AS: Definitely, the collaboration with suppliers gives operators an opportunity to cater for the tastes of their player base in a more customised manner.

MK: It’s a very reasonable choice for both operators and suppliers to go that way, because it usually provides a good balance between investment and return in addition to exposure towards industry and boost to the reputation. Content saturation is currently huge and it’s going to get even more congested, presenting a significant challenge to operators who want to differentiate their offering. We can see that most of the big tier one operators have exclusive offers from time to time – some more frequently but it’s definitely something that is growing in the gaming industry.

Should operators play a bigger role in content creation? If so, how?

AS: Cooperating with game studios will ensure that the needs and wants of the players are met. I’m sure that suppliers can learn a lot from them, which would result in more effective collaboration and better entertainment for players!

MK: Operators are exposed to a massive amount of content during their game selection process. That gives them a perfect overview of what is present on the market and what players might still need. I think operators are often capable of providing valuable input, which suppliers may utilize in their productions. Such collaborations are definitely valuable and should happen more often as it’s a good way to come across the next industry-revolutionizing idea.

Any final thoughts about Ducks Till Dawn?

AS: As mentioned, it’s been a great collaboration and we look forward to seeing how this goes. It’s a feature-packed game which we think will resonate really strongly with players.

MK: I’m very pleased with how the game came out. There were many different ideas during the production process. We went through a couple of different themes that we wanted to utilise in this game. But in the end, all the pieces came together perfectly; the theme, the mechanics; the SpinBoost feature and the title, of course. We’ve created a really really attractive product and I have huge hopes for that to blow away our customer base!

Continue Reading

Interviews

”When it comes to player behaviour, land-based customers have a different profile to those who only bet online”: Exclusive interview with GAMING1’s Sylvain Boniver

George Miller

Published

on

”When it comes to player behaviour, land-based customers have a different profile to those who only bet online”: Exclusive interview with GAMING1’s Sylvain Boniver
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Casino and sports betting group GAMING1 is by far one of Belgium’s best-known suppliers, with over 42 gaming halls and casinos across Belgium, Switzerland and France – as well as 20 online operations globally.
Offering some excellent insight into how land-based vs. online has played out this year, we caught up with GAMING1’s Co-founder and COO, Sylvain Boniver to hear the latest on Europe’s market developments.

 

First off, for those who don’t know you – can you tell our readers about GAMING1 and what you do?

GAMING1 is a casino and sports betting group, which leads the land-based and online market in its native territory of Belgium and beyond. Leveraging almost three decades of industry experience, our unique business model remains as invaluable as ever.

Combining the network and brand power of a top land-based operator with advanced proprietary technology, we create cutting-edge digital channels for casinos and sportsbooks looking to step up their online operations. In total, we have more than 42 gaming halls and casino resorts in Belgium, Switzerland, and France, as well as managing a portfolio of online operations in regulated markets across the globe.

GAMING1 has a strong track record in Portugal, how has the market performed there this year?

GAMING1 was the first online operator to go live in Portugal with Estoril. The venture has been fruitful, and we’ve enjoyed cultivating such a productive commercial relationship with our valued partners at the company.

Although we’re proud to lead the way in Portugal when it comes to market share, we have no plans to rest on our laurels, and our sights are firmly set on continued growth in the territory. In the first quarter of 2020, we recorded an overall increase in GGR of 19% despite the hiatus on sporting fixtures. With the country’s most popular competitions now back up and running, the future looks promising.

How do you see the current state of the country’s iGaming market? Do you think it differs from other European markets? If so, how? 

Portugal is a market which is becoming increasingly competitive. At its inception, commercial activity was restricted to local companies, but it long since attracted widespread international attention.

From a legal perspective, the tax review conducted earlier this year was welcomed by operators. The previous system stifled competition, driving the market underground to the benefit of illegal actors.

The current regime, however, remains burdensome. The black market still comprises more than half of the Portuguese gambling industry’s total commercial activity. The situation isn’t helped by needlessly restrictive regulations, but I’m optimistic that the situation will be resolved in due course.

How much of a land-based tradition do we have there? Is it harder to convert land-based players than in other markets?

It’s fair to say that Portugal’s land-based market is unique. It differs radically from that found in neighbouring Spain, for example. Casinos are the only place where you’ll find land-based bettors enjoying their favourite games – the slot machines seen in Spanish bars, arcades and even street corners do not exist in Portugal.

The country is currently home to just 10 casinos, three of which belong to our partner, Estoril Sol. That makes it a lot more challenging to create an omnichannel experience for players throughout Portugal, so we’ve chosen to focus on the regions where we are physically present.

When it comes to player behaviour, land-based customers have a different profile to those who only bet online. The cultures that exist around both verticals can also be very different, so the idea that it’s easy and effortless to bring land-based players online is fatally flawed.

Regarding player behaviour, land-based customers have a different profile than pure online customers and also different ‘cultures’; so, the idea that the conversion from land based to online is natural and easy, is not that simple.

How has COVID-19 affected the online partnerships through and betting and gaming services you offer to land-based operators?

The closure of land-based establishments has underlined the imperative for operators in that vertical to expand their online activities. Our partners have been successful at redirecting land-based customers to their digital operation, thus limiting the financial impact of the outbreak.

The pandemic has also accelerated many of the partnerships that are in our pipeline, but have not yet been finalised. We’re in discussion with a number of operators looking to step up their online offering which, in today’s market, is a matter of survival given the temporarily reduced presence of land-based.

Why are these better for operators in the current climate than a traditional supplier agreement? 

The difference is that we win or lose together. Traditional suppliers often continue to charge for services regardless of the commercial success enjoyed by their operator clients. GAMING1, on the other hand, shares the same interests and objectives as its partners.

With more than 27-years of industry experience under our belt, operators know that GAMING1 is a partner that can always be relied upon. Focusing on a small number of projects means that we can invest more time and resources into a given partnership than traditional suppliers would. Unlike conventional providers, GAMING1 proactively helps operators bring land-based players online.

What does the short-term future hold for Europe’s casino industry, and how can you help your partners during this turbulent time?  

Changes in player habits, coupled with Covid-induced restrictions, are likely to create challenges for operators without an online outlet. Those who have a synergised land-based and digital offering, on the other hand, will be much better equipped to weather the storm that is sweeping the global economy. For those in the former category, GAMING1 stands ready to help deliver an omnichannel experience to their players.

Which new European markets are on your radar? Are there any we should be keeping a close eye on?

We have our sites firmly set on French expansion, and are creating a land-based network in the country with our exciting new brand, ‘Circus’. We currently operate 6 casinos there, including a Club in Paris, and have undertaken a joint venture with valued partners JOA, who run 33 French-based casinos.
Of course, we are also eagerly awaiting online casino regulation and expect that the covid crisis will accelerate that process.

The Netherlands market also offers interesting prospects. Its authorities have just adopted a law to regulate the gambling industry, and we are preparing to enter the country with a top tier partner, so stay tuned for more info soon enough!

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
NSoft

Subscribe to our News via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to our news and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Trending

Notice for AdBlock users

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

Kasynos.Online