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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!

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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