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Push Gaming JJ2 Success – Exclusive Interview with Darren Stephenson, Marketing Director at Push Gaming

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Push Gaming JJ2 Success - Exclusive Interview with Darren Stephenson, Marketing Director at Push Gaming
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Jammin’ Jars 2 is continuing to smash records since its summer launch – can you tell us how special this is to Push Gaming and what it means for the team?

JJ2 was such a fun project for us from the very first moment when we realised that the feature we were working on was the perfect fit for the Jammin’ brand. We’d been asked many times about doing a sequel but to know it was actually happening and to see it coming together, made it a really exciting project for the whole business to be involved in. This is especially the case given how the first iteration had been such a resounding hit. Seeing the slots community getting charged up for it was just something else and the hype this game generated is something that we can be very proud of.

 

Talk us through the game – what do you believe has made this such a smash hit and which features are particularly unique?

Producing a sequel provides a unique opportunity in that you get the chance to revisit a game. At its core, the game remains true to Jammin’ Jars and we felt that was important, so the same multiplying wilds are in play, however, with the max win increased from 20,000x to 50,000x.

We also added little surprises along the journey such as with the fruit blast feature being able to trigger more than once in a single spin, so players might expect they know the feature from the original but then they find that extra little addition.

The most noticeable changes from the original are the addition of coins and the GigaJar feature. The coins act in the same way as the fruit symbols but with the coin values going up to 1000x – this really adds a new dimension to the potential fun factor when you count in the multiplying wilds. GigaJar brings a completely new feature into the mix – it takes some progression to reach it as we didn’t want to water down the ‘classic’ features that players loved in the original, however it does deliver that all-important unique dimension that made the game truly special.

 

On to global markets – where has JJ2 performed best? Do you think it’s suited to any particular playing habits?

Much like the original, JJ2 is popular across all markets it is available in. I imagine the game is a popular choice for players that like to enjoy games over multiple sessions and enjoy a familiarity and ‘feel good factor’ whilst always offering excitement and discovery. Of course, Scandinavia and the UK are two of our most popular markets, and with some of the world’s most passionate players there, it’s wonderful to see the slot prove to be one of the most popular launches this year.

 

JJ2 has also been hugely well received by the streaming community, did team Push design the game with the community in mind?

In my opinion, a good slot streamer is first and foremost a slot player – and players will always be our focus when we’re working on a game. Streamers want to be entertained themselves, so I think when they’re playing our games it’s a good sign that we’ve done something right.

 

Looking to the months ahead, what other exciting launches can we look forward to?

We’ve just released Fire Hopper which includes some elements that might get people thinking of the Jammin’ games, although with its own unique and exciting twists. Then we have Bison Battle following soon after, which has a land-based slots feel to it and including some really fun bonus rounds. This is definitely a slot with some really unique elements, and I’m sure it will prove to be hugely popular. Both these games include Bonus Buy, which is something new that we’ve introduced to some of our games and players really seem to be enjoying it. Following the hugely positive feedback we’ve received, we’ll continue to include this in some of our upcoming games as we’ve done with a selection of our existing games, such as Jammin’ Jars, Dinopolis and Mystery Museum.

 

 

Interviews

Exclusive Q&A with GAMING1 COO Interactive David Carrion

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Exclusive Q&A with GAMING1 COO Interactive David Carrion
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Having made the leap from CMO to COO Interactive, GAMING1’s David Carrion has set his sights on the company’s expansion in the Netherlands, the US and other regulated markets as it develops at pace.

European Gaming caught up with him on the leading gaming and sports betting partner’s exciting plans for these markets as well as his philosophy towards work.  

 

Since joining GAMING1 as a CMO over year ago, before being promoted to COO Interactive, how would you say your time at the company has gone?

So far, my time at GAMING1 has been better than I ever could have imagined. It’s been a fantastic journey that has allowed me the opportunity to meet some incredible people who have shown me exactly why it’s such as exciting company to work for.

Together, we’ve been able to lay the groundwork and infrastructure around scalable, data-driven products that will help the company grow in regulated markets considerably in line with our clear five-year strategic plan.

 

How has the change from CMO to COO Interactive been, was there anything that stood out as you’ve began to upgrade what you’ve delivered for Belgium’s favourite supplier?

Naturally, I’ve taken on a lot more responsibility with regards to our product offering. This has proved to be a very exciting challenge, especially with regards to expanding into new markets. Next on my list of objectives is to focus on aligning our business and technology objectives, which will ensure that we can dictate our own pace and set us on the right path to international success.

 

Your data-driven skills and experience have been a valuable asset to the company so far, how will you expand on these in your new role as COO Interactive?

We have a very strong vision of what we want to build, however, our customers often have other ideas on how to use our products. Because of this we’ve been able to utilise data and customer behaviour analytics as a great tool to drive us forward, while also helping us find a competitive advantage in the market. Naturally, customers expect the scalability and flexibility to grow their offering and we continue to optimise our products to facilitate that.

 

As GAMING1’s new COO, what are your main goals and aspirations?

Ultimately, my long-term aspiration is to see GAMING1’s growth and development explode way beyond our expectations by building an operational model based on scalability and speed. I would also like to see us consolidate our strong position as a market leader, while mounting a real challenge in new and emerging markets, such as the United States and the Netherlands.

 

With GAMING1 set to launch in the US and Netherlands towards the end of 2021, can you speak more about the company’s growth plans? 

We already hold a strong market share in some of the biggest existing regulated iGaming markets such as Belgium and Portugal, and we now have a real opportunity to grow in betting, which is incredibly exciting.

Our flexible business model and the way we operate our brands, joint ventures and turnkey solutions allows us to take on exciting opportunities in the United States and Netherlands. Our plan is to double our revenue by 2025, outperform market trends and become a truly international operator.

 

Last but not least, plenty of the people in the industry know about your extensive track record – how are you looking to bring that expertise to the table in the coming years as we enter a new era of gaming?

Firstly, it’s important to realise that people are the company, not just one individual. But in terms of how I’m going to bring my own expertise to the table, one day at a time! My approach has always been very straightforward: Be humble, have fun, and realise that difficult is not the same as impossible, as long as you’re well prepared.

As a result of hard work, common sense and a strong desire to succeed, I’ve gotten to where I am today. With those principles in hand, I believe I can elevate the performance of our talented teams to deliver on this new era of gaming, whatever direction that may take.

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Interviews

Q&A with Ohad Narkis, CO-founder of PlayOJO

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Q&A with Ohad Narkis, CO-founder of PlayOJO
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Why did you choose Mexico for the latest LatAm market in which to launch PlayUZU?

We believe that Mexico has the potential to become one of the largest and most vibrant online casino markets in Latin America and a place where our PlayUZU brand and the unique player experience that we offer is a great fit. The market ticks a lot of boxes in terms of viability – it has a large population of 130+ million people, a diverse media landscape and sensible marketing regulations – which will allow us to hit the ground running and start to drive awareness and generate market share from day one. We are already live in other LatAm countries and will use the lessons we have learned in these markets to really make a splash in Mexico.

 

What opportunities do you see in Mexico and how does the market compare to others in Latin America? 

The biggest opportunity for us is that there is a strong appetite for online casino and video bingo among Mexico’s large population but to date, the majority of online gambling brands live in the market have mostly catered to sports betting. PlayUZU is 100% focused on casino and bingo which makes us confident that we will be able to deliver a superior experience to players looking for a place to enjoy slots – we stock more than 3,000 in our lobby – table games, live dealer and, of course, video bingo. The focus on a more casual games offering also will allow us to target a different audience and seek advertising opportunities in less crowded media places.

 

How have you localised PlayUZU for the Mexican market? What can players expect when playing at the casino? 

So PlayUZU is the Spanish-language version of our flagship PlayOJO brand. This means the entire casino has been fully translated into Spanish and we also have a dedicated Spanish-speaking customer support team. In addition to this, we have localised the game lobby with slot content from providers that have proved to be popular in other Latin American markets.

It goes without saying that our live casino lobby is loaded with titles that have Spanish-speaking dealers and we have also added a wide range of video bingo titles from providers such as Zitro Gaming and Ortiz Gaming to meet the high demand we expect for these games. This will allow us to differentiate, as to date not many operators have added video bingo titles to their lobbies so this is an area where we can stand out from the get-go. We are also operating a fully localised peer to peer bingo product which we’re confident will do very well in MX. We are leveraging our experience from operating as a successful UK bingo site to Mexico, which is a much less crowded bingo market and we are confident that together with our casino proposition PlayUZU will become the default destination site for casual players in MX.

While PlayUZU has been fully localised for Mexico, players can expect the same fun, fair and transparent experience that has made PlayOJO and PlayUZU household names in markets around the world. This includes no wagering requirements whatsoever.

 

How are you driving awareness of the PlayUZU brand in Mexico? Will you be using the same marketing tactics as in European markets? 

We plan to be aggressive with our marketing activity, as we have been in the other markets where we are active. In Mexico, this will include above the line campaigns, and we have already joined forces with two TV media companies so that we can really go big from the moment we launch. This includes plans for a bespoke PlayUZU TV show! We will also be running social media and paid media campaigns, as well as other marketing activities. Initially, campaigns will focus on educating players but with the same fun and entertaining approach that we have used in other markets.

 

What are your plans for the wider LatAm market?

We believe that Latin America will become one of the largest online gambling markets in the world, so it is a region that we are monitoring very closely to identify opportunities for PlayUZU. We are already in the advanced stages of securing a licence in Buenos Aires city, Argentina, through a joint venture with a local partner. The market has only just opened up, so we are really keen to enter and leverage the first-mover advantage.

We are also keeping a close eye on Brazil but to date, the focus has been on sports betting and it remains unclear whether online casino will be included in enabling legislation. If we see strong indications that it will be, then we will certainly make a play in the market.

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Interviews

Branding & shaping the perfect corporate image

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Reading Time: 7 minutes

 

What’s in a name?

Branding is key for operators, but shaping the perfect corporate image is also important in the ultra-competitive world of iGaming studios. In this feature, we look at the reasons why already successful suppliers would seek to craft fresh identities.

 

What key factors are taken into consideration when creating a fresh identity for a games studio?

 

Joey Hurtado, Managing Director of Games at Wizard Games: In this saturated market, it is important that we focus on our distinct competitive advantages. This boils down to what we can provide for our partners, based on a level of experience and knowledge within our ranks that we believe is up there with the best in the industry. At Wizard Games, we have assembled a wonderful management team with decades of experience in the industry and a studio team that boasts tons of creativity. Add to the mix an extensive network of operators who are already offering our games, extremely fast integration capabilities, the tournament tools offered by Pariplay, and the support of our solid public parent company, Aspire Global, and it is clear that our brand stands out from the crowd. We know the market and our finger is on the pulse of what players want across major industry operators. This gives us the advantage of creating exactly the sort of content people are looking for in different markets.

 

Yanina Kaplya, Head of Marketing at BetGames: There are many reasons for creating or updating a brand image for a games studio, (or indeed any other type of business). This can range from reputational and international expansion or repositioning to reflect a company’s new vision. Depending on the exact reasons driving it, there will be external factors such as target market trends and culture, the wider industry and product portfolio – and of course, the brand’s archetype. Internal factors can also include how we see and position ourselves, as well as the mission, vision, and value of the company not only as a product provider but also as an employer. Invariably, a company may need help from an external consultancy to see the bigger picture, while some companies decide to create their own brand image and identity in-house, as they have internal brand ambassadors who can show them the way to go. Defining your brand personality, your target audiences’ preferences, and value proposition can help greatly in setting a clear identity for a company. Looking at the gaming market today, we can see competition is fierce and every brand wants to cultivate uniqueness through product or brand identity and messaging to be able to differentiate itself.

 

Vladimir Malakchi, CCO at Evoplay: The concept of a brand is much more fundamental to a game studio or developer, at Evoplay we are in the fortunate position of being a brand that has a proactive philosophy on creating games, this is something not everyone in the industry has. Having a clear brand identity makes it very easy for partners and consumers alike to understand the company’s position and how it conducts itself across its markets. It’s the perfect reflection of a company’s vision, goals, and ambitions. When it comes to making an impact on the global stage – the most important is a well-formed brand compass that will be the landmark and goal behind every step of the company – vision, mission, values, strategic goals, and purpose as a business. Since the main barometer of a gaming studio’s value is the games it provides, it is crucial to understand the uniqueness of the games being created by the company, as well as what it means to the player and partner, and how it will be perceived by competitors. These insights foster a path for the company’s development and lay the foundations for further activity.

 

Stay close to an existing well-known brand, or move in a completely new direction: what persuaded you to move down one route or the other?

Malakchi: I wouldn’t say that Evoplay started moving in a completely new direction after the rebranding. The rebrand was about creating a new starting point in the Evoplay story and a transition to a new level, which is quite logical and harmonious in light of the great achievements made in the last 2 years. It serves as recognition of the experience we have gained over 3 years in the market, as well as setting more global goals and methods of achieving them. Some paradigms have remained with us and are still the basis of the company, some have been modified and adapted to new visions and beliefs, and some have been expanded due to stronger capacity and resources.

Kaplya: We are very proud of having built our BetGames brand and product portfolio completely from scratch. Our success has stemmed from our passion for unique products and solutions, which is such that it prevents us from stepping away from our core values and vision. In rebranding, we wanted to keep the vibrant, cool, visual themes of BetGames, as well as our recognizable name, for both our business partners and legions of fans. These factors give us the confidence and knowledge that our brand has a great reputation in the industry and that’s something we want to maintain throughout our lifetime. BetGames recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, and we’ve reflected this important milestone with an evolved business statement, upgrades to our operations, as well as corporate strategy and team alignments. The main driver behind our rebranding was our strategic plan to develop our corporate identity over the next decade. We identified a clear vision on a logo, fonts, color palette, and photography that would reflect how we grew from a start-up to a global entertainment provider.

Hurtado: This was a question that we considered extensively during the brand creation process before we reached the conclusion that our identity should lie within the middle ground between innovation and tradition. We have since focused on transmitting this identity to potential partners by embedding the concept within our brand design, guidelines, product, and every aspect of our communications. We see ourselves as a progressive brand. That means our games are deeply rooted in what players want, which is in the main set of traditional themes and features. From that starting point, we innovate – gradually and not in a disruptive way, incorporating technological advances, creative features, and attractive bonuses, all the way testing the results game by game. So far, this approach is working perfectly. We have achieved notable progression with each game release in terms of reception, which is a testament to our studio team’s hard work in evolving our offering.

 

Does the name, logo, and presentation of a brand tell a story in itself, or is it all about the games?

Hurtado: The expression of our brand identity is achieved through a combination of the logo, name presentation, and design. The Wizard element represents a wise character who constantly comes up with outstanding creations that nobody expected. As a universally recognizable character from a range of fantasy stories, the appeal is nostalgic while also hinting at the creation of new, surprising solutions. The combination of tradition with modernity is also present within the design of our logo, website, and visual elements.

Kaplya: We do have a story behind our logo. When you look at it – it’s a simple, recognizable, and unique mark that represents BetGames as well as its operating principles. The ‘B’ and ‘G’ in BetGames are combined in our new logo to represent our core value as a people company. It also resembles Superman taking flight, his arms pointing to the sky, which perfectly captures BetGames’ commitment to growth and people. While the diagonal lines mirror our dynamic personality, it is also no coincidence that they are tilted at a 24° angle, the same as the earth on its axis, symbolizing BetGames as a global company. The all-new logo is a modern representation of a company with operating principles and ideals at its heart.

Malakchi: The main goal of Evoplay’s rebranding was to take ownership over our brand identity, positioning the company as one with a unique vision for gambling products and a pragmatic approach to doing business in the industry. Everything that comes out of Evoplay, including communications, promotions, and marketing materials, reveals the personality of the brand and aligns with its vision, values, and goals. Our name – a combination of both the words “evolution” and “play” – expresses our desire as a brand, while our logo features the wing of our mascot, an owl, Evo, which symbolizes wisdom and transformation – the exact two powers we’re driven by. Our slogan is representative of our interaction with players and partners – ‘The future of iGaming of Today ‘, where players can enjoy an unparalleled gaming experience, and our partners can improve their business in multiple ways.

 

What are your brand’s values and how do they relate to your future plans?

Kaplya: We have incredibly ambitious plans for 2022 and our values are integral to them. We are using the best that tech can offer and are busy developing some fantastic ideas that we’ll bring to the market. When it comes to our core values – we start with compassion as we are a people company. Innovation is key, and we always aim to stay unique as pioneers rather than copycats. This is reflected in a soon-to-be-launched new vertical from us in 2022, which we’re all very excited about. Results, of course, always count – and we take pride in never failing on delivery, which I’m sure will continue to place us as a key industry partner through the next decade. Last but not least, we always think big and stretch what is possible!

Malakchi: I have always believed that the brand’s values begin with the corporate culture. It means that in-house values can be incorporated among employees, and directly impact our brand image. Speaking about Evoplay’s values in more detail, they are based on six P’s – People, Partners, Profit, Productivity, Portfolio, Place. Resting on these core pillars, we have been able to achieve our main goals for 2021 and expect to carry this momentum into the New Year by being a responsible employer and trendsetter in the iGaming industry, creating exciting titles, and building valuable partnerships.

Hurtado: The brand personality we have created is reflective of our core values: expertise, modernity, trustworthiness, progressiveness, and entertainment. It connects with our plans for the future, as we continue to add to a team that is rich in expertise, having been within the industry for decades. They know what they are doing and are committed to the continual improvement of our products and services so that we can deliver to players what they want and provide them with the most engaging, entertaining gaming experience. Our commercial team has also grown a lot in quality and quantity and we are striving to deliver the best possible customer service to our partner operators. As anyone can see from looking at our product roadmap, we innovate gradually from game to game, incorporating new, attractive bonus features. Our marketing team has also advanced the quality of our assets and they are working on numerous different projects to substantially improve the asset delivery. This year, we are also set to launch several features that have never been seen in the market before and which we are very enthusiastic about. Watch this space!

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