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“BetGames is a great acquisition tool for new players” – Exclusive interview with BetGames.TV Head of Sales

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“BetGames is a great acquisition tool for new players” – Exclusive interview with BetGames.TV Head of Sales
Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Having proven itself as one of 2020’s standout industry performers, BetGames has not been one to rest on its laurels in the first six months of 2021, launching a host revamped games, as well as establishing its Malta hub with plans to expand the company by 100+ members by the end of the year.

We caught up with BetGames’ Head of Sales, Thomas Aigner, to talk through the studio’s latest moves and plans for continued global expansion.

Looking back at the last six months for European markets, how can we assess performance and what we’ve seen as an industry? 

There’s been two main stand-outs that we’ve witnessed: the increasing player preference for low-stakes entertainment and the popularity of live gaming generally as a remedy for quarantine. As lockdowns have continued in the first half of this year, our games have retained a wealth of players since we intrinsically attract a lower spend with far more regular play – as well a fixed-odds betting format that has ensured we’re a welcome home for sportsbook customers looking to try something new.

In light of what has been effectively an ongoing recession, we’ve also learned that the key to player engagement is a low-spend proposition without the risk of big losses, combined with simplicity in gameplay and the high-frequency in sessions. Given that the majority of players the world over have been observing social isolation, this makes perfect sense – with a strong preference for pick-up-and-play products that offer live entertainment for hours without emptying their wallet. The live experience has been a well-placed antidote to the seclusion that many have experienced over the last 12 months or so.

I think one of the biggest lessons learned has been that diversification is imperative. Pre-Covid, we’d expect operators to be focusing up to 70% of their spend on promoting sports and little else. Those who continued with that approach through 2020 and indeed, the first six months of this year, given the lack of retail environments in Europe, have really felt the pinch.

Moving forward, there needs to be far more focus on alternatives such as ours, as we’ve clearly learned that sports fans are unaccustomed to the majority of casino, or indeed the playing format available, even with Live Casino. It is essential that suppliers take onboard the lessons learned from betting activity, especially when it comes to providing the low-spend, extended sessions that have proven to work so well, and adapt accordingly.

When it comes to BetGames, what regions have been key in Europe so far? Where have you been focusing your energy?

Europe is an incredibly diverse continent when it comes to playing styles, and the BetGames customer certainly varies between markets. On the whole, we attract sports bettors, which is particularly the case in Eastern Europe, where we know that 70-80% of our returning customers are sports fans – and this is one way we really differentiate ourselves as a supplier against our competitors.

For mature markets, such as Scandinavia and the UK, products such as Bet on Poker have performed particularly well, as they offer a playing format that resonates very strongly with players, delivering a winning combination of both poker, which is a continental favourite, alongside the fixed-odds betting format we are famous for.

Looking to new entrances, expansion in Greece, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Ukraine and Georgia are top of the agenda for us, with this summer’s sporting calendar likely to give a welcome boost for all. Having said that, we’re aware that is hard to bring in new game types that can resonate with established players – this requires significant time and resources. We’ve revamped our commercial department accordingly to handle both expansion and our existing partners, which means we have close to triple the resources from last year to have the helping hands in place to support the day-to-day.

As has been evident from many of our recently agreed partnerships, We’re set to work together on pushing and promoting our products with the operator group, dedicating a separate category for our games. This kind of approach will be particularly effective as we differ from traditional Live Dealer and Live Casino Games – which means our target demographic is different. This means that together we can focus on particular player segments that we can engage and retain.

Tell us about the launch of your Malta Hub – that’s certainly big news for BetGames – that must be big news for your recruitment plans?

To keep pace with our rapid recent growth, we realised that we had to expand our capacity and we’re planning to greatly increase our headcount. Opening the Malta office was a logical step in that roadmap, not only to cater for the extra bodies but also to position ourselves closer to the heart of the igaming industry.

Looking at the numbers, we have incredibly ambitious plans to increase our 200-strong team by more than 50%, with our Malta hub ready to provide a platform for attracting the best of the industry’s talent. It will also be a hugely convenient place to meet our clients and friends, and while we understand the way that businesses and people have evolved in the last 12 months, we recognise the need to have that base where our colleagues can be inspired and productive – offering a home, a meeting place, and a space where we can collaborate and innovate.

The long-term strategy we’re currently on course with is set to change our operations as we know them. By planting our flag in Malta, I see it as an excellent chance to transform the company to a new level of growth that will help us to increase in size and revolutionise the way we deliver service to our partners.

When looking at Europe – how would summarise the changing trends of player demand? What products do you plan to offer accordingly? 

Increased regulation in Europe is also going to have plenty of influence on shaping player demand over the year ahead. In my view, the key to success if going to be offering regulation-friendly, low-stakes, simple and easy extended entertainment that can keep players engaged without emptying their wallet.

Economic circumstances (as well as lockdowns) demand this – and players want an easily accessible experience that can be enjoyed in a low-spend format. This is especially going to be the case this summer – and our approach is to always offer complementary products that can boost engagement and sportsbook spend, rather than drain it.

BetGames is a great acquisition tool for new players – while also broadening the target group for live content because of the simplicity and availability of content, odds and betslip format, attracting sports bettors. Accordingly, our partners need content that can fit in seamlessly alongside a sports betting offering, and we’ve specifically designed our catalogue to work in this way. Sports betting margins will always be inherently higher for operators as they don’t carry the cost of using a third-party, making us one of the few suppliers globally that can truly offer a partnership that can boost both sides of the coin.

Last but not least – where are the key markets in Europe for growth our readers should be watching over the next 12 months? Where has BetGames got its eye on? 

We’ve got our eye firmly fixed on Greece at the moment, as already mentioned, but looking further afield, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Brazil, Ukraine and Georgia are other territories that we see plenty of potential in, as I’m sure most of our fellow European suppliers and operators see too.

In evaluating where’s best for us, there’s a host of regulated markets available and we’ve got to make sure that we’re entering the regions best suited to us and our portfolio. We’ve significantly changed our assessment criteria to make it a far more comprehensive process to apply due diligence. This means that we’ve now got our own taskforce dedicated to performing key market analysis with a criteria that encompasses both qualitative and quantitative data. This now totals 14 different key factors that we analyse to work out where our products will work best – and we’re very excited for the bringing our unique catalogue to more players than ever before!

Interviews

Making a lasting mark in a new territory

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Making a lasting mark in a new territory
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

We talk to Michael Bauer, CFO/CGO at Greentube, to discover the key elements to a successful entry into a new market.

What has to be taken into consideration before entering a new market?

Michael Bauer: The first aspect to consider is whether or not our games already have traction in a particular region, this can be in either social casino, or the land-based environment. If we see that this is indeed the case, then the decision-making process is a much easier one as clearly, this is a positive sign as to our potential within that jurisdiction.

Secondly, we have to take into consideration the market itself. How big is it, what is the overall population, how does that break down into demographic groups and what is the average income? All of these questions are pertinent. We also have to look at how the market is shaped by regulation, for example is it reasonable from a taxation perspective and in terms of products and content, or are there any major restrictions in place? All of these factors are in play when we are deciding whether or not a market is attractive to us.

By way of examples, looking at the Czech Republic and German markets, they have heavy restrictions in place on the product. Germany has a €1 limit on stakes and five seconds between spins, while in the Czech Republic, you also have maximum win limits. This can make products less attractive for players and from a supplier perspective an amended product, which is less scalable and attractive.

How important is it to utilise local expertise within a market?

It is usually very important, because markets are all different to one another in certain respects and this means a one-size-fits-all approach cannot be successfully rolled out across multiple jurisdictions. This is true for both suppliers and operators, and arguably even more crucial for the latter. Operators must have a detailed knowledge of local marketing networks, compliance aspects of regulation and local player tastes and preferences. Local expertise is an integral part of the growth journey towards being an important player in a market, there is the potential for an operator to buy their way to success through marketing, but it is a costly approach.

Are the current conditions in Germany an illustration of potential difficulties of entering a new territory?

Germany is the best current example of potential difficulties when entering a new market due to regulation. It is the first regulated market I have seen that has created an environment that is particularly unattractive for players, causing channelisation rates which are only around 20%. In addition, the regulators have struggled to issue licences. As things stand at present, what the regulation is creating does not lead to the desired outcome – the channelisation of the player base into a safe, regulated environment.

Is there an expectation for both operators and suppliers to enter every regulated region?

To a certain extent, yes. Our bigger, global customers are asking us to join them when entering new markets. We experienced this in both Argentina and Ontario, as well as other smaller regions. The issue here is that a market may not necessarily be attractive enough for us as we have too many other opportunities to tackle at the same time. When we are dealing with a smaller jurisdiction, the cost of entry and resources may be better funnelled towards the bigger openings.

Certain operators may seek to launch games on as global a basis, but this is a trend that is becoming less prevalent, which is down to different regulations and operators utilising various platforms in certain regions.

How long does it take to know whether you have been successful in a market? How is that success measured?

When a new region opens up and the regulations in place are crafted carefully, such as in the Netherlands for example, operators who gain a licence are able to ramp up quickly. We have also seen in Switzerland that markets can become very interesting, very quickly. Our measure of success is market share, where we receive feedback from operators on the success of our games. The other aspect is the GGR we are generating in a region and the number of players we are reaching. It may be that a certain jurisdiction has a weak currency, or low local purchasing power, but where there are many people playing our games. Colombia is an example of this, where the currency is not as strong as the European markets we operate in for example but we have a large player base, and can also be regarded as a success. Germany is a less than ideal example, because players are leaving the regulated market, and we cannot supply the black market.

Do you have any particular examples of successful or non-successful market entries?

The starting point of a successful entry for us is usually predicated on being first to market. We achieved that in Switzerland and the Netherlands, where on day one of regulation our games were available to play. In itself, this is a success because it’s normally very tricky to be that fast. Secondly, after a certain time you look at how big your market share is. Switzerland, the Netherlands, Poland and also Norway are good examples here, as we quickly gained market share through the latter with state-owned Monopoly holder Norsk Tipping. You also have high hopes of certain jurisdictions that don’t come to fruition, which despite best intentions and plenty of hard work can be out of our hands due to regulations requiring amendments of games and stakes.

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Interviews

Exclusive Interview: Vivo Gaming’s New CCO Neil Howells

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Exclusive Interview: Vivo Gaming’s New CCO Neil Howells
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

Neil Howells, the new CCO of the live dealer platform provider Vivo Gaming, speaks about what he hopes to achieve in the role and the latest innovations the company has to offer in the live space.

 

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Gaming

European Gaming meets Gökçe Nur Oguz, CEO and Co-Founder of Playable Factory

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European Gaming meets Gökçe Nur Oguz, CEO and Co-Founder of Playable Factory
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Q: Tell us about how & why you came to found Playable Factory?

Over four years ago – when we founded the company – gaming was booming and it still is today. All our friends were working in the sector and we wanted to, too. We were new to it all. Monetization, LTV, CPI… sounded like another language to us but gradually we learnt from our friends and tapped into the scene. As we grew our understanding, we realised playable ads played an important role. If done well, they can add to the experience of gaming. But good ones were frustratingly hard to find. So, along with my co-founders, Berat and Omer, we started making them ourselves and the rest is history.

Q: What were you doing before that/what led to it?

After university, I completed a PhD in Fluid Dynamics, a subdiscipline within physics and engineering. There were a few gamification projects, like building games for people to play that would simultaneously have a background programme running to solve an operational problem. This part had me captivated. Outside of academia, I was always gaming and would gamify everything I did. Not just computer games, but card games, board games etc… So it felt natural to me to do something I enjoyed.

Q: Describe Playable Factory & Gearbox in a nutshell?

Playable Factory is a company that focuses on the creative needs of digital advertisers. The focus is mostly on playable ads and recently on video ads for gaming clients specifically. Our secret (or not so secret) weapon is Gearbox, an online editing and iterating platform for creatives. This is split into two: Gearbox Playable, create your own tailor made playable ads (create, iterate, download and repeat) and Gearbox Video, a tool that allows users to record gameplays easily and create/edit/tweak to their heart’s desire. You can generate hundreds of videos in an automated process with one click.

Q: What kind of support can a gaming developer (or brand marketer) expect from your
platform?

Gearbox is made for people who want to monetize their games. It’s a one-stop shop for advertising and promotional videos. No prior coding knowledge is needed so anyone can use it, which hasn’t really been done to this extent before – with full, fast-response, technical support. It’s like having the full agency experience on one platform. For developers, we provide them with market insights around playable ads, guiding them to the right concept in
a speedy manner. They can get creative with graphic filters, text to speech options, banners… and any feature that improves the performance of the playables or video ads.

Q: Who are your clients?

We work with top mobile game publishers: Zynga, Playtika, Dream, Voodoo, Lion Studios, Gram Games and lots more. Apps publishers like Funimate, Trendyol and Gopuff. And brands include Hasbro, LEGO, Unilever and L’Oréal.

Q: What is unique about the Turkish mobile market/why has it become known as the Silicon
valley of the mobile gaming market?

Turkey’s become a global mobile gaming hub. It’s amazing to watch it take off. Some of the best publishers and developers in the world are based here. I think it’s got a lot to do with the ability for rapid development. You’ll find teams of 4-5 young people making a steady stream of mobile games that they send out into the market. Thanks to home-grown success stories, the eyes of investors have turned towards us. But it’s also down to the culture here. Gaming is hugely popular in Turkey and you can feel the passion and drive among people in the
scene here. Local and global economic forces make international expansion lucrative and it feeds back into making the industry making it even bigger and better – and long may it continue.

Q: Have you always been passionate about gaming? When did you first get into it?

I’ve always liked games: console, board games, mobile games… For me, it’s cracking the puzzle that gets me hooked on a game. In my childhood, my younger sister and I were always inventing our own games. Now, business-wise, my co-founder Berat and I, enjoy gaming together and playing board games in our downtime. We actually got the licence for the hugely popular party game Codenames from Czech Games. Since then, we’ve published two more board games together. This was before we entered mobile gaming.

Q: What’s your favourite mobile game?

It has to be 2048. I like puzzles and numbers 🙂

Q: What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career to date? And greatest
success?

Without a doubt: building a company from scratch on a technology that we learned all by ourselves, with no training. I didn’t know how to build playable ads, I didn’t know anything about HTML5 gaming and coding so finding a good developer and establishing a business was the biggest challenge.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to start-ups in the gaming industry?

I never truly understood the importance of a team before I started working in gaming. PhDs involve mostly working solo and it misses the team spirit. The pressure is high because the success of your work is always dependent on you, and you alone. The gaming industry is totally different. Success reflects on the team who built the game. I wish I’d known that before joining the industry. So, my advice would be to evaluate your team, and believe in them because that’s the only way to reach success. If you don’t like the people you work with, it’s often much harder for you to fulfil your full potential. When your motivations align with your team’s, you can combine forces and focus to get the success you deserve.

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