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Exploring the Metaverse and AI’s role in it



Exploring the Metaverse and AI’s role in it
Reading Time: 6 minutes


with’s CEO & Co-founder Christoffer Holmgård

  1. How do you define a metaverse?

The metaverse is a challenging thing to define, partly because it’s such an abstract concept, but also as no one has created one yet – so the exact scope of what we’re talking about is a bit blurry. To define the Metaverse, it makes sense to look to fiction, where the term was originally coined. In Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, the Metaverse is a digital, online universe, perceived from a first-person perspective, that exists independently of whether you are logged into it or not. It’s a persistent place that you can access, change, leave, and return to.

There’s a myriad of possible definitions, but there are common threads between them. The metaverse could be defined as a multi-user real-time virtual space where individuals around the world can connect via a network, co-exist and socialise. Many games and platforms exist already that could fit this description, but what sets apart the metaverse from a traditional multiplayer experience is the ability for players to create and share content to shape the world around them in a more or less persistent setting.

  1. When do you think the first Metaverse will be created?

Some think we’ve already arrived, others think the metaverse will be far grander in scale. If you look at your gaming library today, examples that resemble metaverses will instantly jump out at you in the shape of Minecraft, Dreams, Fall Guys, Roblox and Fortnite. For many people, these titles are no longer considered games but persistent spaces to connect and socialise through virtual experiences – that may or may not include gaming.

Historically, the gaming industry has seen many forms of the metaverse since its inception. World of Warcraft has had its own functioning virtual and digital metaverse in the form of a digital and virtual economy for decades. Second Life is another early example that partly fits the bill, and EVE Online in particular stands out as a persistent universe shared between all the players where large organizations and even an economy have sprung up. Looking even further back, the early Multi-User Dungeons of the 1970s – or MUDs – might be considered proto-metaverses without graphics. Each of these examples contain different characteristics that define the Metaverse, even if they didn’t manage to achieve them all.

  1. How are you seeing the metaverse trend being reflected in the industry right now?

We’re seeing a drive across the games industry toward creating platforms for Metaverse-like experiences. Using either existing technologies or games, and even building new ones. The trend has been going on for quite some years, but it seems we’re reaching a point where the idea of Metaverses is coming together for both players and large industry actors. What’s more, the global pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated some of these trends that were already underway.

Fortnite, Roblox, and other big titles have slowly evolved from games to online spaces where people can interact and spend virtual currency on in-game items to build relationships and experience something fun and unique. Elsewhere, the trend continues thanks to games like Fortnite, which continues to develop more virtual experiences like its famous concerts. What’s more, Fortnite’s publisher, EPIC Games, recently raised $1 billion to support its future vision to build the metaverse.

With nearly 40 million daily users, the online gaming platform Roblox has become an incredibly popular online community. The game allows its users near-limitless possibilities to create, buy and sell, customise and socialise. What’s more, Roblox no longer calls itself a game on its website anymore; instead, it’s now an experience.

In essence, it’s a collection of semi-persistent spaces created by players using the same foundational tools and protocols. They make their spaces uniquely their own by changing and expanding templates and customising them in creative ways that no single game development company could come up with on their own.

Developers who have created popular interactive virtual social spaces have realised the earning potential behind their ‘games within a game’. So the race to perfect the metaverse model is on!

Many believe the metaverse is the next logical evolution of the internet, so it’s easy to see why so many big industry players are racing to stake their claim and take as big a piece of the pie as possible. So much so that even the country of South Korea has begun laying the foundation for its metaverse, as it recently created an alliance between 17 of the country’s industry-leading tech companies. Most recently, Facebook came out and declared itself a contributor to bringing about the Metaverse.

There is currently no single metaverse, but given the recent boom in brand collaborations and cross-platform play, in the future, we may see several of them become interoperable or meld together in a shared vast universe. But the biggest hurdle will still remain getting companies to look past their own interests to drive inter-organisational collaboration.

  1. What do you think will be some of the main hurdles in establishing the first metaverse?

Creating a metaverse is one thing, but keeping players engaged and returning to this new frontier is another. Gaming professionals need to understand what motivates players to contribute and come back to these virtual spaces. The key lies in understanding player behaviour. It may sound obvious, but measuring the way a given player moves through and interacts with a virtual space is a great way to gauge their interests. Their interactions, however seemingly insignificant, reveal the player’s preferences from moment to moment.

Understanding a player within the metaverse could be reached by manually picking and studying the individual user, but this approach quickly becomes unfeasible at scale. Alternatively, one can sample representative users, but this form of user research is time-consuming, expensive, and doesn’t pinpoint accuracy at the individual player level. This is where artificial intelligence can help.

  1. What role will AI play in the metaverse?

Put simply, publishers need their players to return, continue investing, and growing with the environment itself. Tools such as AI that learns from and understands the audience could be the key to growing the metaverse as the game industry’s next frontier.

Today we’re already seeing how AI can assist in daily work, assisting with checking, testing, coding, or even generating whole segments of stories automatically. As more people become digital content creators, we expect AI to take a role as a creative assistant working next to human creators, automating boring, repetitive or difficult tasks that are part of the creation process. AI systems will learn from prior examples and patterns in the Metaverse and use the learnt information to assist with new creative processes.

An additional way in which AI will be significant in the Metaverse is that AI systems will get to know you over time and shape your experience of the Metaverse accordingly. A quality of digital universes is that they, by their nature, allow for the observation of just about everything that goes on in them. One method that can help developers understand their players is by recording their behaviour at the action level and using it to create AI Personas – which are essentially models of the players in parts of the metaverse. By first logging and replicating player behaviour, AI Personas can predict how certain players or groups would act, and by extension, what that means in terms of interests, motivations, and preferences.

These predictions can then be used to tailor and adapt the player’s experience with the most engaging content and interactions at the individual level. You could imagine having an AI system that puts together or even generates content and experiences that are tailored just for you.

It even opens the opportunity for you to leave behind imprints of yourself when you’re not signed into the Metaverse. Some video games already offer a version of this today – for instance Forza Motorsport has Drivatars: AI drivers that drive in your style, that your friends can race against if you’re not online to compete. Perhaps, in the future, we’ll have our own AI doubles or assistants filling in for us in the Metaverse, when we’re not around to play.

This idea is really an extension of character customisation, which has become a cornerstone of modern gaming. Epic Games understood early on how character customisation and avatar expression attracted players away from competing titles such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Licensing pop-culture avatars was key to keeping people within the Fortnite metaverse. Interest amongst players is always high because there’s a chance for them to wield a lightsaber one week then wear the infinity gauntlet as Thanos the next.

This level of avatar detail and customisation, and the ability for users to express themselves in new and exciting ways, will potentially be the cornerstone of any successful future metaverse project as players use this as a form of expression.

But as games continue to increase in scope and attract more players to log on, manually managing these virtual worlds becomes much less feasible – especially in the context of a metaverse. So you can quickly see where AI fits into the equation.

From generating digital environments, shaping more realistic AI character behaviours to automated bug finding, the potential applications for artificial intelligence will be near-limitless. With regards to the Metaverse, whatever final form it takes, I believe artificial intelligence will be vital in realising projects of this scale.


Making a lasting mark in a new territory



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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Exclusive Interview: Vivo Gaming’s New CCO Neil Howells



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



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

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

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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