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Tom Galanis: giving a First Look at the Top of the Slots

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Tom Galanis: giving a First Look at the Top of the Slots
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Gone are the days when we would spend a Thursday evening waiting for Top of the Pops to come on our televisions so that we could see who would be performing that week. The music show may no longer be running, but First Look Games has taken inspiration from the long-running staple and added a slot spin, to create Top of the Slots.

To give us more insight, First Look Games Founder Tom Galanis walks us through the ideation process behind Top of the Slots and how this is helping to give an accurate representation of the top-performing slot titles each month.

 

You launched Top of the Slots by First Look Games a couple of weeks ago. For those that may have missed the launch, what does this involve?

Tom Galanis: Top of the Slots is a showcase for the top 10 games launched by game studios via the First Look Games platform over the previous 90 days. It’s a never-before-seen take on game popularity and one our game studio partners, and affiliate users are already loving!

 

What was the thought process behind launching Top of the Slots?

Tom Galanis: First Look Games captures unique data for our game studio partners and Top of the Slots is designed to illustrate the most successful games, benchmarked by this unique data insight, to the industry.

 

What do game providers have to do to make it into the top ten releases for the month? What metrics do you use to evaluate success?

Tom Galanis: In order to make it in to the top 10, game studios need to release titles via our platform that successfully resonate with the 850+ affiliates that utilise First Look Games, making full use of the suite of tools we offer on and outside of the platform to engage affiliate marketers in the promotion of their game. The rankings are based on the First Look Games Index for all games launched to the market in the preceding 90 days, which combines:

  1. a) Downloads – which is the aggregated total of download sessions amongst affiliates on the platform. Affiliates download assets including logos, game sheets, video files, screenshots, banners and game artwork;
  2. b) Hits – this is the aggregated total number of game reviews for the game, created by affiliates using the First Look Games platform;
  3. c) Reach – this is the aggregated unique visitor count of the websites containing the Hits;
  4. d) Demo Game Sessions – this is the number of free to play demo game sessions that have taken place from iFrames placed on Hits.
  5. e) Sentiment Score – this is the average sentiment score from Hits

The games that rank well in this index are obviously commercially successful in their own right but are also being reviewed by affiliates because of the engagement of the game studio with the First Look Games platform, and consequently, with affiliates.

Our most active game studios are not just releasing great games with frequency but are also ensuring their game and studio news is distributed across the First Look Games platform and social channels and that a full and diverse range of marketing assets and game information is being provided through the platform prior to a game’s release. This best equips affiliates to understand the features of a game so that they can successfully convey this to their player audience, which, collectively amongst FLG affiliates, is very significant, totalling more than 20 million slots players worldwide.

 

Tell us a bit more about the First Look Games sentiment analysis – how is this helping to remove the biases from the ranking process? What data do you use to inform this analysis?

Tom Galanis: Once our technology has identified a new game review, First Look Games uses Natural Language Processing to ‘read’ the review and assess what the affiliate makes of the game. We share a short snapshot of this with the game studio and assign a score to the review based on how positive the affiliate has been in their review of the game. The more positive the language used in the review, the higher the score.

Sentiment scores are then aggregated across all reviews of the game to give a score for the game, and across all games to give the studio a score to benchmark against peers. Using AI, we are able to objectify the subjective to provide true 360 analysis on how affiliates are promoting a game.

 

What can we expect to see from First Look Games for the remainder of this year?

Tom Galanis: We have a perpetual roadmap of both new studio launches and technical advancements of the platform for affiliates and game studios to look forward to!

Interviews

Amplifying horse racing: An inside look at how Altenar is diversifying its platform in partnership with SIS

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Amplifying horse racing: An inside look at how Altenar is diversifying its platform in partnership with SIS
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Industry heavyweights SIS and Altenar are both well-respected suppliers in the industry, known for delivering memorable sports betting experiences. After penning a new deal to boost its horse racing offering, Antonis Karakousis, Director of Operations at Altenar, is joined by Andy Kelly, Head of Commercial Partnerships at SIS to discuss the huge benefits in play.

 

How did the partnership come about?

Andy Kelly: One of the biggest goals for SIS this year is continued geographic expansion. Having signed a host of international deals, we are looking to enhance our reach, a key strategy to support this ambition is to partner with leading platform providers that have big networks worldwide. Altenar has an impressive client base and being able to collaborate will only serve to benefit both brands. Our extensive product range appeals to operators in search of added value, with 24/7 betting content to drive new operator revenue streams across racing, competitive gaming (esports), and live number draws.

We have hit the ground running with Altenar, with our teams demonstrating a willingness to cooperate and implement strategies in providing products to operators efficiently, with no disruption to existing offerings.

Antonis Karakousis: The collaboration with SIS is a significant milestone for us.. The decision to add a racing provider to our in-house sportsbook stemmed from our commitment to offering a diverse and engaging sports betting experience to the users. Recognising the popularity and global appeal of racing products, we sought a reputable partner who could deliver high-quality content and a seamless integration process.

 

What excites you the most about the partnership?

Karakousis: The breadth of SIS’ offering, including its extensive portfolio of horse racing services, real-time data, and streaming solutions, aligns seamlessly with our commitment to providing diverse and engaging content to users. We look forward to the positive impact this partnership will have on our platform and the satisfaction it will bring to our operators.

Kelly: Our partnership with Altenar provides us with the opportunity to offer the full SIS product range to a host of new operators across the world through a single integration. The deal means we can get more eyes on our products. We are launching with over 74,000 racing events every year, with our range of live fixed odds numbers draws to follow, with Competitive Gaming events-based sports simulation product completing the product offering. It’s about providing Altenar with a range of premium, highly engaging content that creates fresh revenue opportunities around the clock, through exciting short-form events.

It has been great to see both sides sharing insights to ensure smooth and seamless processes in delivering content to a wide range of operators.

 

How has the integration worked so far?

Kelly: The integration process has all been smooth so far, aided by the experienced and very capable technical teams on both sides. Together we will be able to offer bettors more round-the-clock opportunities across the product range, initially starting with our live racing content. Having worked with platform providers in the past, we are confident that we can continue to get our products to market through Altenar quickly and seamlessly.

Karakousis: Working closely with the SIS team, our technical experts have engaged in a concerted effort to ensure a smooth incorporation of their products into the Altenar sportsbook. We are pleased to share that the integration has exceeded our expectations on several fronts.

 

Are there any more products in the pipeline?

Karakousis: Our collaboration with SIS goes beyond the launch of the horse racing product. We have exciting plans in the pipeline, with both greyhound racing and lottery games set to be introduced in the near future. There is no doubt that SIS’ product base is one of the most respected  in the industry and has elevated our offering to a wider audience. Additionally, as 2024 progresses, we expect the horse racing product to expand further, bolstering odds on some of the world’s premier race meetings.

Kelly: We are constantly looking at enhancing our existing product range to serve the evolving needs of operators. This has previously been demonstrated by our expanded range of live fixed odds numbers draws, with high-frequency Fast 15’s designed to keep bettors engaged with a new draw every three minutes.

We will also continue to grow our live racing content offering across the world. We have the rights to some of the biggest and most prestigious international races in the world including all contests at Saudi Cup and the Dubai World Cup, to name a couple. Having rolled out fixed-odds betting in Colorado with bet365 recently, we are hopeful that other US states will follow suit.

There is also the possibility of adding a wider array of sports simulations to our SIS Competitive Gaming offering to ensure localised appeal.

 

How do you foresee 2024 going in terms of this partnership?

Kelly: We believe the rest of the year will bring mutual success and growth for both SIS and Altenar. We are already seeing the positive impact of our partnership, with collaborations across multiple departments, working together cohesively to meet the challenges of the market together by delivering a product range that engages bettors and provides additional revenues for operators globally. With our combined efforts this is certainly achievable.

Karakousis: As we look ahead to the rest of the year, we are highly optimistic about the trajectory of our partnership with SIS and the impact it will have on the Altenar sportsbook. The collaboration has already laid a strong foundation with the successful launch of the horse racing product, and we anticipate several key developments and milestones in the coming year.

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Interviews

Time to get into the gamification game

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Tomer Baumel, Founder at CEO of Solitics, talks about why personalised gamification is the best way for operators to differentiate and bring tremendous added value to their players

Differentiation. This is something that operators strive for but, in reality, is very hard to achieve. If you take a look at the online betting and casino experiences available to players in any given market, it’s hard to come across many brands that truly stand out.

Most offer the same welcome bonuses, similar games/odds, the same payment options and deploy the same tactics for fostering loyalty once the player has signed up and deposited for the first time. But loyalty must be earned, and right now, casinos and sportsbooks are not doing enough.

For many, retention is a tick-box exercise based around level-up loyalty schemes, offers sent out via email and SMS, and the occasional generic pop-up message that aims to keep players engaged with the sportsbook or casino – usually with free bets or free spins.

The majority of players will be familiar with these tactics and are sufficiently smart and savvy to know the sportsbook or the casino brands do this to encourage them to play for longer.

There is nothing wrong with operators taking this approach, but it is boring at best. Retention should be fun and exciting, and there is a lot that casinos and sportsbooks can do to be different to their rivals and add tremendous value to the player experience – value that will ensure they stick around.

How? Personalised gamification.

Gamification has been an industry buzzword for some time now, but few operators have yet to truly incorporate it, and personalise it using data, into the overall player experience. Personalisation is how how operators will unlock the huge potential gamification offers for both acquisition and retention, and ultimately differentiation.

Not only can gamification be used to transform the user experience across multiple touch points, but it can also be used by operators to drive certain player behaviour such as making a deposit or continuing to play even after a run of losses.

Gamification comes in many forms, but at Solitics, we have just launched a new Gamification Module that includes Gamification Widgets with highly customisable mini-games that operators can use to elevate the player experience to boost both acquisition and retention. Mini-games are the perfect gamification tool. They can be combined with promos and bonuses to help the brand connect with the players and build trust.

Because the experience is gamified and highly customised to players’ preferences and playing patterns, operators can guide users’ behaviour in a way that is authentic, allowing them to generate a much higher life-time value from the players than when they are incentivised by traditional or generic offerings.

So long as mini-games can be customised and configured, operators can be smarter in how they bonus and run promos that are far more effective while avoiding overbonusing and overspending.

For example, if you would like a player to log-in each day to claim a daily surprise, instead of offering £5 bonus upon log-in, the operator can engage the player with daily challenges such as ‘login and get a daily surprise’.  During this mission, player will get to spin the wheel to determine his daily prize, and also see an interactive map of his progress. From managing the bonus economy point of view – since the widget is entirely customized by the brand. This actually adds excitement for the player while reducing the bonusing cost for the operator.

Positive, fun experiences also generate advocacy, with players recommending the brand to others.

Personal gamification widgets are also a powerful driver of acquisition, especially when deployed as part of the onboarding journey through game introducing carousels, or spinning a prize wheel to determine the welcome bonus they receive.

Of course, operators need to be able to differentiate through the mini-games they offer to their players otherwise players will once again find themselves swimming in the sea of sameness. This is why we have ensured our mini-games offer unrivalled opportunities for customisation and personalisation including brand colours, content, bonuses configuration, all of which are easy to change.

With Solitics, marketers can choose from a pre-set library of games and customise them, or they can create their own games from scratch, all from a single UI, with no need for heavy development resources.

That said, it’s still important for the right games to be delivered to the right players at the right time and this requires the use of data and segmentation.

Our solution is built on top of the operator’s data house which allows marketers to be incredibly granular in terms of who gets the game, the accompanying bonus, the communication that goes with it and the channel via which it is deployed. This is all done through a single platform and UI.

Despite the potential personalised gamification offers to take the entire player experience to the next level, and for brands to be heard above the noise being made by the competition, the majority of operators have yet to really get behind it.

We believe that our solution is a game-changer here and those that get in the game will be surprised by just how effective gamification can be when it comes to acquiring and retaining players at scale while offering a strong USP for their brand or brands.

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Interviews

Exclusive interview with Steve Rogers – Founder and CEO at Playbook Fusion

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

We recently sat down with Steve Rogers – Founder and CEO at Playbook Fusion and talk about several important aspects that shape the game studios industry.

What made you want to launch a game studio given the incredibly competitive nature of the market?

Because we have identified a gap in the market in which we can offer something truly unique. There is a large audience of players who enjoy sports-themed video and mobile games, and the ownership and skill required to master titles such as FC Ultimate Team, and who also like to place a bet on their favourite sports, teams and players. Right now, there isn’t a game format that brings these two worlds together, but Playbook Fusion is allowing them to collide to provide an entirely new experience that these consumers will absolutely want to engage with.

The addressable audience for our games will be broad but it is currently one that operators are struggling to engage. This goes beyond those who bet on sports to include those who are simply sports fans, gamers who enjoy management format titles and who are light-touch gamblers, virtual sports players looking for ownership over their teams and fantasy sports players seeking round the clock action.

In all instances, our strongest appeal will likely be among the next generation of players – those who are unlikely to walk into a retail betting shop or have a bet on the Grand National, but who are engaging with mobile and video games, social media and streaming.

 

How will you leverage your industry experience to lead Playbook Fusion to success?

I have more than 20 years of experience in the industry, and this has enabled me to amass a deep understanding of key factors required in bringing successful betting products to market, such as regulation, compliance, content deployment and ultimately what goes into making a hit game. I have been delivering RNG sports games to operators for various companies for a long time now and have good relationships with the right people within most of the major tier one and tier two brands, opening up a clear path to deploying our games with the biggest operators in the business. My experience has also taught me what a good game looks like and has allowed me to identify the gap in the market that Playbook Fusion has an ambition to fill.

Where I lack experience or in-depth understanding, I have brought in experts including video and mobile games veteran, Santiago Jaramillo. Santiago has more than 13 years of AAA gaming experience and has previously worked as Creative Director for EA Sport’s FIFA Franchise and was Executive Producer of MonopolyGo! He was also Head of Sports at Dapper Labs where he conceived and created NBA Top Shot, an award-winning, first-of-its-kind product anchored in blockchain technology.

Our complementary skillsets will absolutely be key to ensuring the future success of Playbook Fusion.

 

How will you stand out from your rival studios? How will your content offer something new to operators and players?

The level of ownership, the persistent progression within the games and the ability for skill development that each of our titles will offer will set Playbook Fusion apart from its competitors. We are working on a range of innovative mechanics that will allow players to boost the capabilities of their teams, which in turn will increase the chance of them winning. Gameplay will include acquiring or earning packs that players can open to strengthen their lineup before they decide what kind of contest they want to engage with. There’s really nothing like this in the sports betting space at this point and this strong, clear point of difference is what is already allowing Playbook Fusion to stand out and catch the attention of sportsbook operators.

 

Bringing together the worlds of gambling and video/mobile gaming is a tough task. How have you approached this? 

It comes down to building a team of the brightest minds and creative talents from both industries. From the gambling sector, we have sought to hire dynamic individuals with a passion for sports and who understand what the next generation of sports bettors are looking for. Then, from the gaming sector, we have Santiago and a growing team of designers and developers who have an in-depth understanding of the mechanics behind successful video games. We are bringing the edges of these industries together and creating an environment in which everyone can learn from each other. I truly believe that we have a game-changing concept and with the team we have in place, we can bring it to life and disrupt the industry.

 

Can you share some insights into your first game? What will it look like? How will it play? Who has it been developed for?

Our first game will be a football title. Football is the biggest sport globally and will allow us to hit the ground running with a game that has mass market appeal. It will take the football manager format, with players able to build a team by acquiring and trading players. They can also do things like buy packs and reveal cards that all help in strengthening their team. They then compete with others across several game types including seasons, player vs player and in contests with friends. Players earn points based on the performance of their team, which are posted to a real-time leaderboard. The more points players accumulate, the more league levels they clear and the more rewards they earn. Betting is a core part of the game loop but, unlike more traditional virtual sports games, the bettor will have a much greater sense of ownership over the team they are betting on, just like in real sports betting. We plan to replicate this format for other sports including basketball and cricket.

 

Why should sportsbook operators partner with Playbook Fusion?

Our games will enable operators to generate incremental revenues from existing player groups, particularly Virtual Sports and Fantasy players, by offering a more engaging betting experience on a 24/7/365 basis. Also, our games will allow them to tap into a new, lucrative but hard-to-reach audience. These are not traditional sports bettors, but rather the next generation of customers looking for social, fast-paced gameplay where they can improve and display their skills and strategy with the chance of winning money – the YouTube, Fortnite, tech-savvy generation that will become a sportsbook’s core player base in the coming years.

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