Connect with us
SoftSwiss
Playson

Interviews

Women at Reflex | Surj Stott Interview

George Miller

Published

on

Women at Reflex | Surj Stott Interview
Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Each year, the 8th March marks International Women’s day (IWD). In 2021, let’s pay attention to this year’s bold theme which is, ‘Choose to challenge’.  The time is now to challenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes with the aim to forge an inclusive world.
It will come as no surprise that the gambling sector is both very white and very male. The lack of women working in senior positions is astounding.  Of the women who do work in the sector, they are more likely to work in retail, HR or administrative functions. The Gambling Commission’s recent annual report has confirmed that women are gambling in similar numbers to men. If we want games to be representative of the players, it’s important that teams creating them offer a diverse and varied perspective. In which case, encouraging more women to work in the sector can only be positive.

We chat to Surj Stott – Head of Sales at Reflex Gaming to discuss her incredible journey from a run-away, wayward teenager to helping build one of the UK’s leading machine producers.  We get her views on what she would choose to challenge on IWD.


1. Hi Surj, tell us about your role at Reflex Gaming

I head up the sales and marketing function, so customer account management is a big part of the job.   Along with Steve Clark, I help manage our customer relationships.  At Reflex, we pride ourselves on great partnerships with pub retailers, operators and our AGC customer base.

Day-to-day, I also manage our production schedule and liaise closely with our production and logistics teams to ensure that our games are delivered to customers on time.

I’m also responsible for planning our events, including major expos, such as ICE, EAG and ACOS. I really enjoy this side of things, due to my love of people and socialising. The cancellations of both EAG and ICE this year have been a blow for Reflex, as both events are important marketing platforms for us to showcase our new product lines.  They also provide a great opportunity to speak to our customers and learn their requirements and find out what is performing well on their estates.

2. How has the global pandemic impacted on Reflex Gaming?
At the start of 2020, the outlook was positive for Reflex, we were acquired by the Dransfield Group in 2019 and we had established ourselves as one of the country’s leading machine suppliers to the pub and club sectors.

The first lockdown resulted in our entire customer base being closed which wiped out our forward-looking orders.  We consequently made strategic decisions to fast track our drive to the online space. We have formed strategic alliances with two major distributors, Yggdrasil and Stakelogic. These give us the opportunity to penetrate the online slot market quickly and get our games in front of more players via their vast distribution networks. This is typical of the Reflex psyche in that, being faced with the biggest negative impact imaginable to our existing business, we have leveraged opportunities that have been unaffected by the pandemic.

However, it is very disappointing that the Government have given very little support to manufacturers and suppliers to the leisure and hospitality industry. Supply chain companies like Reflex have simply slipped through the Government’s support net. Other than the furlough scheme, we’ve had no additional support and it has been a real struggle to operate for 14 months with, effectively, no income.  We have tried to lobby for a business support grant and a rates relief, but with no success to date.

I am a strong character and I’ve managed to remain positive throughout the pandemic.  We need to focus on the future and there is now some light at the end of this long tunnel, through the impressive vaccine rollout which has resulted in the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.  Right now, it seems that the leisure and hospitality industry will reopen in April/May as planned, and if people opt for “staycations”, these will be positive steps to ease the recovery of the sector.

3. How did you get into this sector?
I grew up in Leicester in a first-generation Indian family.  At the age of 15, my parents had arranged for my marriage to a goat farmer, based in India.   My instincts told me that it did not feel right, and it certainly wasn’t a life I wanted. I took the drastic step to do a runner, and I haven’t looked back since!

As you can imagine, leaving home at 15 was tough, but I was fortunate to have a good network of friends who helped me through the situation.  I’m thankful that I didn’t end up in the wrong crowd.

I was running a successful Nottingham city centre pub in my early twenties, following which I established my own bar in Newark. This meant working very long and unsociable hours, and with a young child, often proved to be difficult. I decided that more of a 9-5 job would better suit my home / work life balance and I mentioned this in conversation with one of the customers in my bar, who happened to work at a local gaming machine business called BWB.  An opportunity came up there, so I applied. I was interviewed, got the job, and began my career in gaming at BWB. After a while, I moved into a sales role and it was whilst I was working here that I met my husband, Quentin, (these days the MD of Reflex Gaming).

4. What would you tell your younger self?
It would be to trust your instincts.  At 15, my decision to leave home was very much a “Sliding doors” moment.  Although it was the risky choice, I went with my instincts. Fortunately, I have no regrets.
Also understand that sometimes you may have to work harder and apply more attention to detail than some male colleagues.  Enjoy the journey and don’t be afraid to be yourself!

5. What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?
When I first started my career in this sector, sadly, I did experience both racial and sexual discrimination.   I don’t get easily intimidated and the discrimination ultimately made me a stronger person. I have proved myself with great determination irrespective of other people’s prejudices.

However, I have witnessed much progression in the industry since I started. I am seeing an increasing number of women in senior positions who have progressed from junior roles and long may this continue.

6. The International Women’s day theme is, “Choose to Challenge”, what would you choose to challenge?
I passionately believe that there is no place in the world for bullies. Whether this happens in school, at work or your community. We need to take a collective stand against it. I cannot bare people who belittle others to make themselves look superior! Call them out for what they are. I’ve met a few bullies during my career and behaviour like that should be confined to the Skip of history.

7. What message do you want to send out to young women who are considering a career in this industry?
The i-Gaming sector has opened a huge host of career possibilities.  There are jobs ranging from game design, graphic design, software development, marketing, etc. You will be able to unleash your creativity and let’s face it, the end-product is fun. There is never a dull moment in gaming.

It’s changed a lot since I started in 1996.  It’s more politically correct without being woke.  This is an exciting vibrant industry with a lot of great people in it.  Although the gambling sector might not be everyone’s first choice of industry as a career, for me, it’s been a blast and I’ve made a lot of friends from it. I met my husband, and I’ve had opportunities to meet some very interesting and successful people along the way.

Interviews

Exclusive Q&A with Andrey Vajdyuk, Head of Business Development for NetGame Entertainment

George Miller

Published

on

Exclusive Q&A with Andrey Vajdyuk, Head of Business Development for NetGame Entertainment
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

How has 2021 begun for NetGame Entertainment?

We’re incredibly pleased with how the year has begun as it’s seen us deliver on our key growth targets in Q1. Against the backdrop of an unforgettable 2020 for the industry, we worked tirelessly to set the perfect foundation and it’s allowed us to seamlessly focus on new jurisdictions, promotions, aggregator and platform partnerships.

Our creative games studio has been busy with several hugely popular releases that included the latest in our Book of Nile series and Fruit Cash Hold ‘N’ Link. Another milestone for the business since the turn of the year was the launch of crypto currency and it means we now work with all world currencies.

NetGame Entertainment’s creative studio continues to release a wave of successful slots, what makes these titles standout from the crowd?

Our creative team and studio is second-to-none and deserves all the plaudits for the positive reception of NetGame’s titles. The team has been curated over time and is perfectly positioned to drive the business forward through designing exceptional iGaming experiences.

Supporting the innovative thinking are outstanding graphics, fair and trusted math and a combination of interesting features that each help deliver the best experience to players. Particular attention is paid to our bonus games and multiplayer elements that both have positive impacts on player engagement and retention.

Engaging bonuses feature heavily within NetGame Entertainment’s slots, what impact do these have?

Bonuses add to the fun for players and make games more exciting as we constantly strive to make every user’s experience interesting and enjoyable. NetGame’s bonus games are synonymous with our brand and there are various levels to the in-game features. One component that players love that’s present in some of our titles is the option to buy different starting levels within the bonus game to give a greater chance of success.

We are proud of our Progressive Jackpot Series Game and these have really added to player engagement and therefore life-tme-value. Other NetGame features include Free Spins, Buy bonus feature, Gamble feature, Tumbling reels, Hold N’ Link, Pick’em Game, Fortune Wheel, Super Laser, Multiplayer Mode, Totalizer, Pay-any Symbol and Quick cash.

The Fishing Kingdom slot has a multiplayer element, is this something that NetGame Entertainment will introduce more?

Fishing Kingdom has been incredibly well received and the results have been beyond encouraging. The game has been beautifully designed, but the standout feature is the multiplayer element. Given the results thus far, we plan to develop these styles of games and there will be another three launched during the remainder of the year.

How do slot series, such as Book of Nile, perform when compared to standalone titles?

We’ve been thrilled with how warmly the public has taken to the Book of Nile series. Magic Choice launched in February as the third installment following Revenge and the Lost Chapter. The Egyptian series is packed full of fun features and builds a narrative across the three games that players have really engaged with. Book of Nile is one of our most volatile games and that really adds to the breathtaking experience on the reels. Our series games and standalone titles perform equally well with our partners and that’s thanks to the creative team’s commitment to fun, thrilling and rewarding experiences. The key for us is having a diverse library of games to suit all our partners’ demands.

What are your business expectations over the next 12 months?

The next 12 months promise plenty for NetGame Entertainment and we have high expectations on delivering on our action-packed roadmap. One core element of that strategy is that we’re close to obtaining our MGA license and you are the first publication we have shared this information with.

Later in the year we’ll also be revealing some more details on some major arrangements with big aggregators and operators. These significant deals will allow us to expand NetGame’s reach in the market and give more players the opportunity to fall in love with our proprietary titles.

Continue Reading

Interviews

Exclusive interview with Petra Maria Poola, Head of Business Development and Operations at OneTouch

George Miller

Published

on

Exclusive interview with Petra Maria Poola, Head of Business Development and Operations at OneTouch
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

We sat down with Petra Maria Poola, Head of Business Development and Operations at the mobile-first casino game developer OneTouch, to discuss how suppliers should adapt their products to the geographic regions which they are targeting.

Is content localisation a myth?

No – for those who get it right, it’s an invaluable acquisition and retention strategy. What do we mean when we talk about localised games? Put simply, it’s a title that’s tailored to a specific geographic audience.

And it takes a lot more than just changing the language to do that. From both a visual and technical perspective, adapting your content to individual target markets can do wonders for engagement.

For example, there are obviously still places lacking in internet coverage, particularly in growth regions such as Latin America. For suppliers trying to enter those territories, that makes it all the more important to ensure that your games don’t take up too much storage, and can be easily downloaded by those with an older smartphone model or a slower internet connection.

Do you localise your games? If so, how? And which regions are they tailored to?

Here at OneTouch, we think it’s all about striking the right balance between creating international hits with cross-cultural appeal, while also producing content for specific local audiences.

Our recent release, Ganbaruto Battle, draws inspiration from the great Japanese tradition of sumo-wrestling. It features a renowned Estonian wrestler called Baruto Kaito, so its appeal is likely to include, without being limited to, players from that country.

Equally, classic casino themes such as Ancient Egypt and Vegas-style fruit symbols often generate global popularity. Our timeless slot title, Forgotten Pharaoh, has achieved tremendous and widespread success by drawing on the former theme.

One might expect that our basketball-based slot MVP Hoops performs especially well in markets where that sport is popular, but it’s actually proved a hit in regions where basketball is not generally followed by the wider population.
Finally, we expect our upcoming title Live Crash to reach a transnational audience, because it is a crash-style title similar to those enjoyed in the crypto-gambling space – which is rapidly gaining followers from around the world.

We research every market diligently to understand what its players want in precise detail. Localisation has proved a successful strategy for OneTouch!

Are there any aspects of game development which are internationally uniform, and do not vary based on where you are in the world?

Some aspects of content development require more localisation than others. Failing to geographically adapt your game from a visual perspective might mean that customers might not want to play it. Failing to do so from a technical perspective, meanwhile, could mean that they are not able to play it.

However, there are other stages of the game development process which are not subject to regional variation. With the exception of a game’s volatility, mechanics do not tend to vary all that much on the basis of geography, unlike technical and visual effects.

Similarly, sometimes localisation isn’t just about adapting to cultural or infrastructural differences, it’s simply a case of knowing the ratio of land-based to online players within the market you are targeting. It’s all about creating an enjoyable entertainment experience for the end user by paying heed to their specific cultural context. Get that right, and you could be onto a winner.

Continue Reading

Cryptocurrency

‘What is the role of social media within real-money gaming, and how will this change in the years to come?’

George Miller

Published

on

'What is the role of social media within real-money gaming, and how will this change in the years to come?'
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

We sat down with Tom Leadbetter, Head of Marketing at multiplayer casino game developer FunFair Games, to discuss the increasingly important role played by social media within the modern-day gambling industry.

The casino industry’s use of social media is fundamentally outdated. Specifically, the world of iGaming has yet to understand the true value of community engagement.

The crypto space, by contrast, has long been ahead of the curve. That includes crypto-gambling, which places community at the heart of its acquisition strategy. Yes, many in the real-money gaming sector post about their activity, but that’s rarely followed up with a conversation.

That’s why FunFair Games uses social media to start a two-way dialogue with its community, stimulating discussions on platforms such as Discord, Reddit and Telegram, as well as more conventional social channels like Twitter, where we’ve got more than 35,000 followers.

I doubt there are many companies in the real-money space who use Reddit, but we’re proud to call ourselves pioneers in the gambling industry’s use of social media. And with a current membership count of nearly 17,000, as well as 72,000 page views in January alone, we’ve found the platform to be a fantastic engagement tool.

Keeping your community engaged takes more than just emailing a newsletter without response. We live stream our games at the prototype stage, and ask for community feedback on the names of the characters found in our titles.

In that regard, social media is a great way to garner instant feedback on your content. The crypto index is much younger, boasting a higher level of popularity among Gen Y and Z players than the mainstream casino sector.

Crypto is therefore a useful predictor of things to come. If the emerging generation of player wants more community-driven experiences, it’s likely that social media will prove key to the gambling industry’s future.

There’s a tendency for the real-money sector to fear community engagement. In some ways, that’s understandable: scroll through Twitter these days, and most of the stories you find about gambling tend to be negative.

That negativity, though, stems from a lack of trust. That’s a word you wouldn’t normally associate with the world of gambling, but social engagement allows you to cultivate it. Most of the feedback we get is positive, but our community often flags potential problems too. We don’t shy away from spirited discussions and debates with them – it’s not that everyone agrees, but that everyone cares.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Lightning Roulette by NSoft
Advertisement
EvoPlay
Advertisement
Kasyno Online na HEX Polska

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.