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SIS interview: Breathing new life into the 49’s offering

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SIS interview: Breathing new life into the 49's offering
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Jess Mills, Head of Product Proposition at SIS, caught up with European Gaming to discuss how the company has revamped the popular 49’s draw and the huge potential to grow the numbers product globally.

Why did SIS acquire the 49’s brand and how does its addition fit within the wider SIS strategy?

SIS’s strategy for a number of years has been to diversify further online and internationally and this has proved to be successful as we have made significant inroads into new markets across the world. It is important however to ensure you have a diverse portfolio of products as each territory has different needs due to customers wanting to bet on various things in different ways. 49’s therefore allows us to broaden our product portfolio in other verticals – numbers and virtuals – enabling us to target additional territories and help expand our international footprint.

49’s was a product and business that we knew inside out as we had been a strategic partner for 25 years, broadcasting the 49’s live draws out of our studios in Manchester and we had supplied the products to our customers in a number of key territories, so the acquisition seemed like a natural next step for us. In addition to this we felt we had the right skills and experience to develop the business and further expand the product internationally.

Can you tell us more about the revamp of 49’s and why this is so important to furthering the brand?

49’s has been a popular part of the SIS retail service for nearly 25 years. Operators and their customers really trust the brand, it’s reliable and is invigilated by a third-party auditor, which gives customers and operators a huge amount of reassurance and confidence in the product. That said, when we looked at the brand, it was clear to us that it required a refresh and there was room for improvement. The important thing was to modernise the product and bring it up to the present day but without alienating the existing loyal customer base in the process.

We redesigned the graphics and logos to be more modern, for example. They’re brighter and there’s more colour, which makes it look more engaging. We’ve also given the presenters a slightly new look, but they’re still the same presenters that everybody knows and loves, while the music has also been modernised, though you can still tell it’s the 49’s draw. We wanted to maintain all the best things about 49’s but bring the product up to date so it has a modern look and feel.

 

Key to the revamp has been the addition of the new 39’s and Fast 15’s draws. What was the thinking behind their development?

The 49’s brand is a very popular and trusted brand and we felt that it had the opportunity to expand the product portfolio. The new 39’s draw is a very similar format to the original 49’s draw but it involves 39 balls, and you pick five balls from there. It runs every 15 minutes, so it occurs much more frequently than our 49’s draws, which currently run twice a day. It’s also a slightly more streamlined product than the daily 49’s draws and is pre-recorded with our presenters. While it’s a slightly shorter product, you’ve still got a good chance of winning attractive cash prizes so there are some similarities.

As for Fast 15’s, we’ve gone in a completely different direction. There are only 15 balls, and you pick three out. While the chances of you winning are far greater, the chances of you winning life-changing amounts aren’t as high as with the other draws. It’s about reinvesting your winnings for future bets. It runs very frequently – every two minutes which means you never have to wait that long before the next draw.

Where is the 49’s product most popular and which new territories are you planning on targeting moving forwards?

49’s is an established product in the UK, Ireland, and South Africa with strong customer engagement, so there are plenty of opportunities within our existing territories to cross promote the new products. But there are other territories where customers like to bet on numbers, such as South America and Europe. We’ve got a great opportunity to take our new product portfolio to these territories where there are keen numbers bettors, but initially we are looking to build on the brand in the existing regions where we know we’ve got that core following.

What further changes have you got planned for the brand for the future?

Acquiring the 49’s brand really is the start of our journey, which is exciting for us as there are lots of opportunities to build on the product. As well as rebranding 49’s and getting the new 39’s and Fast 15’s draws up and running, we have also invested in a new 49’s website, which allows us to showcase the refreshed brand, put the presenters at the heart of it, and add our new products when they go live.

It also enables us to generate greater affiliate opportunities. Our new website will allow us to develop even more affiliate relationships with other operators that start to partner with 49’s going forward.

There are also additional opportunities for other live numbers products which don’t have to be draws. The 49’s portfolio also includes virtual horse and greyhound racing and we’ll be exploring different ways to enhance our virtuals offering too.

Interviews

Exclusive Q&A with Aleksey Ulanov, Lead Designer at BGaming

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Exclusive Q&A with Aleksey Ulanov, Lead Designer at BGaming
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Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. Before we jump into the more specific questions, could you please introduce BGaming to our readers?

BGaming is a creative and fast-growing iGaming content provider, as we love to say, converting gambling into gaming. The studio revealed itself to the world with its variety of thrilling online casino games and became the pioneer in supporting cryptocurrencies. 

Our fundamental value is that the Player and Player’s choice always come first. For this reason, we constantly analyze and study player needs and preferences to make unique and attractive products. 

 

What types of games does BGaming’s portfolio include?

Today BGaming’s portfolio includes more than 80 products such as video slots, video poker, lottery, table games, card and casual games with HD graphics, quality sound design, and a clear user interface for every device. 

Since we strive to expand our network of crypto projects and pass over a successful experience of crypto casinos to fiat ones, we also draw particular attention to our portfolio of Fast (casual) games.

 

With so many games out there, what differentiates BGaming from the rest of iGaming content providers?

I would say everything begins with the team. BGaming’s team includes professionals with 20+ years in the iGaming sphere, which bring vast improvement to work on each stage of game development. Thanks to team experience, we became the pioneer in supporting cryptocurrencies, the first major provider to introduce the Provable Fairness feature in online slots, and have found a perfect balance between ideal visuals and maths, along with rich gameplay and surprising features.

BGaming is a frontrunner in Brand exclusive slots production. We collaborate with casinos as true partners, striving to be flexible and provide their players with the best experiences. We offer a variety of customization packs for casino operators starting from a light touch, through deep customization, and up to an exclusive slot or crash game. 

As I highlighted before, our fundamental value is that the Player and Player’s choice always come first. Such a player-driven approach is another essential feature of BGaming.

 

What are the key guidelines that you follow when designing a new game?

There is a saying in slot development, “The art is what attracts the players, but it is the math that keeps them.” 

I’m all too familiar with an excellent math model that suffers if the art does not attract new customers. Our design team puts a lot of effort into characters’ creation, pays attention to details, constantly experiments with the graphics, and implements the best practices to make our games eye-catching.

Since we’ve been creating games for a long time now, we are armed with deep knowledge of the sphere and extensive analytical data. We use it to find valuable insights and better navigate which math, mechanics, sound, and of course, graphics hold the potential to become a hit. These insights and tendencies provide the basis for further experiments in design.

For example, our hit character Elvis the Frog was fueled by such an experiment. We aimed to create a brightly-painted character that could support dynamic gameplay, share the festive atmosphere, be associated with luck, and could be easily recognized. As a result, our Elvis Frog in Vegas appeared and became the best support to the game’s captivating math and mechanics.

The game was a blast and Elvis the Frog, who knows how to have a good time and brings luck, became extremely popular.

 

Is there any room for variety in gambling games? What do you do to avoid producing repetitive games? Slots for example all work following the same basic mechanics. Is it possible to keep the experience fresh?

A player is a king in iGaming. Some players value variety, while others stick to particular math, mechanics, or design.

Most content providers are balancing fresh experiences and classic, well-loved features and characters. Learning from complementary spheres, such as game development and crypto space, works well in our case.

We have a successful case in our portfolio, the pack of Fast g

ames. This genre of games came from the crypto casinos. Clear rules, rapid results, and simple graphics are the features that unite these games. Our fast games package includes five games now: multiplayer crash Space XY, Plinko XY, Rocket Dice XY, Heads&Tails XY and Minesweeper XY. The games are much different from what we used to see among classic slots. But we notice the success of these games at crypto casinos and want to pass it over to fiat ones. 

Analytics helps us understand the gaming space changes, highlight trendsetters in math, mechanics, and art, and keep the experience not only fresh but, first of all, relevant.

 

Could you tell us a bit more about current trends? What makes a game successful nowadays?

We analyze players’ preferences from release to release and see that it’s always a good idea to allow players to choose extra bonuses. 

The Player’s interest in the game can be increased if the game’s mechanics offers features that provide rapid results or multiply the winning chances.

Among particular audiences, if we talk about crypto gamers migrating to fiat casinos, there is a tendency to simplify mechanics and art. But at the same time, this audience brings high standards for transparency in game results and freedom to choose game currency.

Unfortunately, or maybe, fortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” solution to make a game successful. Great space for action and experiments, though! 

 

Finally, without sharing too much information, tell us about what we can expect in the future from BGaming!

For the new releases, we are working on upgrading the package of Fast games in our portfolio. This year it will grow to at least ten games, including new games Keno, Limbo, and Mines. Also, BGaming works to expand its portfolio with a Wheels, BlackJack and Dice Battle towards the end of the year. 

A new version of our big hit Lucky Lady Moon enhanced with popular MEGAWAYS™ mechanics launches this July. The slot will be fitted with thrilling features, including Free Spins with the Wheel of Fortune, Refilling reels and Wild symbols with x2 multiplier.

To sum it up, BGaming is on the way to strengthening its positions and presence in the European  and LATAM regions, which means a lot of great things ahead! 

 

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Interviews

Making a lasting mark in a new territory

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Making a lasting mark in a new territory
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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
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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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