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Keith Goddard: Blazing a trail for iGaming disruption

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Keith Goddard: Blazing a trail for iGaming disruption
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

In a chat with European Gaming, Blaze Gaming CEO Keith Goddard discusses how the games developer plans to stand out as a beacon in the gaming industry with its entertainment-inspired portfolio of games.

 

Blaze Gaming is a new studio looking to make its mark on the industry. Tell us more about the team behind the business and how you plan to stand out in a crowded market.

Blaze Gaming is owned by Digient Technologies and has a rich cultural diversity with team members hailing from all corners of the world including India, Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe. This wonderful tapestry of cultures, values and experiences infuses our creative process with a unique global perspective, bringing a vibrancy to our games that sets us apart from other studios. It also means our games resonate with all players in all markets. We’ve gone to great lengths to ensure our management structure reflects this diversity and consists of incredibly talented individuals representing various backgrounds and genders. This openness and inclusivity fosters innovation and creativity and ensures our decision-making is enriched by different insights and viewpoints. Ultimately, this allows us to develop better games while allowing Blaze Gaming to stand out as a beacon in the gaming industry. This, combined with the entrepreneurial capacity of our owners, serves as a driving force behind Blaze Gaming, empowering us to take bold risks, explore new opportunities and always push the boundaries of what’s possible.

 

Can you talk us through your portfolio and what it includes?

Our expansive portfolio has been designed to meet player preferences and expectations in markets across the world. Right now, we have 23 slots, 11 draw games, four table games and five roulette variants based on a variety of themes and with a brilliant mix of mechanics and bonuses to ensure each provides an immersive and engaging entertainment experience. We also offer eight Casino Trading Games – this is a super interesting format that seamlessly blends the excitement of cryptocurrency trading with the edge-of-the-seat thrill of traditional casino gaming. In addition, we have dedicated platforms for poker, rummy and sports betting so that our operator partners can offer the players a comprehensive suite of gaming experiences. Looking ahead, we’ve got a busy product roadmap covering the next 12 months with at least 30 new games set to land in our portfolio.

 

Your Casino Trading Games sound like they have the potential to be the next big thing. What are they, how do they work and who will they appeal to?

You’re right, they are a game changer. They capture the adrenaline of the volatile, high-risk/reward world of crypto trading and fuse it with the presentation and polish of a casino game. They deliver fast-paced action, boundless entertainment, endless excitement and tons of big-win potential. We know that players are seeking deeper and richer experiences at online casinos and these games deliver exactly that round after round.

 

Which markets do you see as offering the greatest potential for Blaze Gaming? How will you look to localise your portfolio for each of these markets?

We see huge potential in emerging markets such as Latin America and Asia as well as established regions like Europe. We recognise the importance of locally influenced partnerships in these markets, especially when it comes to distribution and growth. This is why we prioritise forging strategic alliances with local stakeholders including established operators, content aggregators and marketing partners so that we can maximise our presence and reach. These partnerships allow us to leverage the expertise and networks of trusted local entities which in turn facilitates a much smoother market entry and expansion. Working closely with our partners gives us invaluable insights into the market, regional trends, player preferences and the regulatory landscape we need to navigate and this in turn guides product development, the localisation of our portfolio and the marketing strategies we deploy. Through this emphasis on locally influenced partnerships, we can maximise the distribution opportunities while fostering sustainable growth and deeper relationships in each jurisdiction we target.

 

The slot provision space is highly competitive. What challenges have you faced so far and how were they overcome?

We’ve encountered many challenges so far including market saturation, regulatory compliance, customer acquisition, technology infrastructure and the constant need to innovate and differentiate. But this is what makes it such a fun space in which to operate. To clear these hurdles, we have focused on premium distribution channels, daring to be different in the quest for true innovation (our Casino Trading Games are a great example of this), have never compromised on quality, have established a dedicated compliance team and have adopted a multi-faceted approach to customer acquisition. We’ve also invested heavily in technology infrastructure and fostered a culture of creativity and experimentation within our diverse development teams. By doing this, we have overcome all obstacles in our way while ensuring we deliver exceptional gaming and entertainment experiences to players worldwide.

 

What can we expect from Blaze Gaming in the coming months? Can you share any big announcements coming up?

Hold tight as we’ve got a run of never-seen-before product releases set for the coming months. This includes slots with exhilarating math models, diverse draw, table and trading games and much, much more. Digient Technologies has also entrusted us to rebrand its poker, rummy, sportsbook and igaming platforms and we’ll be making more announcements about this shortly. But until then, you’ll just have to watch this space.

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Interviews

Exclusive Q&A w/ Richard Mifsud, Chief Vision Officer at XPRIZO

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Exclusive Q&A w/ Richard Mifsud, Chief Vision Officer at XPRIZO
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Would you tell us about the idea behind the Xprizo fintech platform?

It’s a story that started several years ago when the founder was conducting business on the ground in several emerging markets. Xprizo was founded to respond to the needs of emerging market consumers and merchants, whilst also addressing the limitations of Western banking systems.

This full-service payments platform combines all functionality needed by merchants, with a product tailored to unbanked consumers, bringing this market together in one, seamless ecosystem. What’s more, we drive adoption and consumer education through a network of agents, supporting cash deposit and withdrawal in a way that our target audience is accustomed to.

 

Xprizo’s mission statement is to ‘revolutionise the future of fintech’. What gaps in the market is Xprizo working to find solutions for and improve in the fintech space?

We are primarily targeting countries which have substantially large communities which are under served when it comes to fintech or banking. Therefore, we are operating in a challenging environment where we truly believe we can have a life changing impact connecting these people to several national and international services. We are delivering a comprehensive financial service where our clients are usually just served with either mobile money or cash and with the introduction of Xprizo our customers can benefit from p2p payments, card processing and full integration to the local mobile money ecosystem, debit cards, crypto and much much more.

 

How was the development process in building the platform? Were there particular challenges along the way and how long did it take to get the platform ready for market?

We wanted to build the platform from the ground up using local knowledge and tenants so we are working with people coming from Africa, India, Southeast Asia and also Latin America. To arrive at where we are it took several years actually and it is always developing. Having said that in the last 12 months the platform and the wallet took the shape it has today and we covered a lot of ground. Main challenges were the territory we operate in since we needed to make sure the platform can run smoothly with less than ideal infrastructure. One has to keep in mind that we are operating in a space where lack of electricity is the norm, interrupted internet is an everyday occurrence, regulatory matters are still very complex and more.

 

How does the Xprizo platform set itself apart from other fintech offerings? What can the service provide that others can’t?

As explained earlier, we build the platform from the people to the people. Most other offerings are a one-size fits all where they are adapted versions of what is available in the western world. Moreover, we are offering a truly comprehensive payment orchestration for users and merchants. One just needs to get on our platform and doesn’t need anything further. You can get the local payment methods, our own p2p, cards, etc.. No other service out there has such a complete  offering.

 

Xprizo’s platform features a number of payment service providers such as M-Pesa, what benefits does this bring customers?

The idea is that our clients don’t need to use several systems to make their life or business. Using or integrating to Xprizo gives you a number of payment methods in one place where for the business side you would integrate one API and you can pick and choose what you wish to use.

 

How is 2024 shaping up for the business and what plans are in place to continue to develop the platform?

2024 is proving to be an incredible year for Xprizo. We are very happy to be overwhelmed with businesses that are recognising the benefits of using our system and we are having internal discussions to be integrated with very well known businesses and also by Tier 1 banks. Our ground reach though the agent network will also keep expanding month on month and the product offering will keep being a one of a kind setting the standard for other Fintech companies to keep up to.

2024 will also see us expand our reach in Africa launching several other countries and more importantly we will be launching our first operations in South East Asia. We will be beginning with the Philippines in June with the goal of expanding our reach across the following months.

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Exclusive Q&A with Christoffer Ødegården, Head of Casino at Bojoko

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With growing competition in the online casino industry, finding effective ways to attract new players is crucial for operators. To discover which strategies are the most effective, we contacted Christoffer Ødegården.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

With growing competition in the online casino industry, finding effective ways to attract new players is crucial for operators. To discover which strategies are the most effective, we contacted Christoffer Ødegården. He serves as Head of Casino at Bojoko, one of the top affiliates in the UK, and has access to comprehensive data on what features help secure additional FTDs. In this interview, he shares how diversifying payment options, lowering deposit limits, and refining bonuses can help casinos stay competitive.

 

What are the most effective strategies casinos can use to increase FTDs?

Most casinos focus on tweaking their bonuses to attract new players, which is effective. However, it can also have certain financial risks and lower player value. Our data shows that one of the fastest ways to increase FTDs is to simply expand the selection of payment methods.

It might not be intuitive, but offering a variety of methods does not just mean that players can choose what works best for them once they are on your page. Having the right payment methods will actually lead to a large number of players hearing about and exploring your casino in the first place.

Could you explain the impact of offering diverse payment methods on player behavior?

Many players have specific payment preferences and will only make deposits and withdrawals with specific payment methods, some sticking with just one. It is essential to have all relevant UK payment methods to avoid missing out on these users. As I already mentioned, many Brits actively search for casinos with their preferred payment method available, and comparison sites like Bojoko cater to them.

Bojoko has pages for every popular UK payment method, where players can quickly compare their offers and make their choice. This is without ever being exposed to brands that do not offer their deposit method of choice.

Let me provide a quick example. We have noticed that many Brits actively search for Paysafecard casinos and land on our dedicated page, where they compare casinos that let you deposit with Paysafecard and sign up. These players come with high intent, resulting in higher conversion rates. It is not just Paysafecard; a long string of more niche payment methods are hugely popular amongst Brits.

Which payment methods have proven to be most beneficial?

There are almost too many to mention, but pre-paid cards like Paysafecard, e-wallets like Neosurf, and mobile payment options like Boku and PayForIt are clearly gaining popularity. We have also seen an enormous rise in PayPal in the last few years, and the industry has responded, with most British casinos now offering PayPal. ApplePay is another mainstream payment method that has somehow been largely ignored among online casinos.

How should casinos respond to these emerging trends?

Casinos should always try to quickly embrace these trends, as the earlier they adapt, the more players they stand to earn. There is always an adaption curve where the less common payment methods are only available at a few operators, meaning they share the entire pot of players searching for these options.

I’d also recommend utilizing their relationship with affiliates like Bojoko, which can also amplify visibility. As I mentioned, our platform provides curated lists that guide players to casinos offering their preferred payment method. This visibility and alignment with player preferences often result in a noticeable uptick in FTDs. However, our collaboration with casinos goes beyond simply listing them on these pages. We can and do also provide insights on which payment methods and other features they should add to increase their FTDs.

You mentioned other features they can add to increase their FTDs. What specifically are you referring to? 

Another quick way for a casino to increase their FTDs is to lower the deposit limits. This makes it easier for players to sign up and get a sense of your brand. High minimum deposits can deter new players who want to try the casino without committing too much upfront.

I’d also like to specify that bonuses are still a powerful tool, with no deposit bonuses in particular being an effective way to bring in new players. However, these require a strong focus on player retention to avoid risks like bonus abuse. Less risky bonus options include increasing the percentage of your welcome bonus and trying out wager-free offers. However, no matter what you do, effective retention strategies remain key to ensuring players continue depositing after their initial experience.

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Interviews

RubyPlay and BetConstruct interview: delivering bespoke content for Mr. First

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RubyPlay and BetConstruct interview: delivering bespoke content for Mr. First
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

The launch of Mr. First by BetConstruct 12 months ago saw the creation of an iconic character that has proven to push the boundaries and deliver increased engagement within the iGaming and crypto industries.

As Mr. First celebrates his first birthday, we spoke with Dr Eyal Loz, Chief Product Officer at RubyPlay, and Ruzanna Elchyan, Head of Gaming at BetConstruct, to reflect on how both organisations have worked together to build unique gaming experiences around the popular brand ambassador.

 

May marks the one-year milestone of Mr First. Dr. Eyal, what positive impact has this fun and creative character had within iGaming? What do you like most about the character?

Dr. Eyal Loz: Mr. First is a relatable, fun character that can easily deliver complex initiatives. Seeing Mr. First post online, and also, meeting a larger-than-life Mr. First in gaming shows, really connected us to the fun narrative of this brand ambassador. Mr. First is successful and confident, but also very relatable, not too serious or intimidating. The overall impression is – if “Mr. First can do it, so can I”!

 

Ruzanna, what was the inspiration behind Mr First, and what sort of impact has it had on the iGaming sector?

Ruzanna Elchyan: Mr. First was inspired by the need for a charismatic and relatable character who could serve as an advertising agent and an expert in the crypto and iGaming industries. His impact on the iGaming sector has been profound, bringing a fresh and engaging narrative that resonates with players. Mr. First’s presence has not only made gaming experiences more enjoyable and memorable but has also increased engagement and interest in iGaming, particularly among younger audiences. This has significantly contributed to the sector’s growth and evolution, establishing Mr. First as a symbol of innovation and excitement in the industry.

 

How does BetConstruct envision the incorporation of Mr. First and other games into future collaborative projects with studios like RubyPlay, considering the positive reception and engagement witnessed at the BFTH Arena Awards?

Ruzanna Elchyan: BetConstruct is looking to integrate Mr. First and other games into future collaborative projects with studios like RubyPlay, utilising innovative strategies to enhance player experiences. The enthusiastic reception and high engagement levels at the B.F.T.H. Arena Awards highlight the potential of these partnerships. This positive feedback motivates BetConstruct to push the boundaries of iGaming creativity, ensuring that upcoming projects are not only entertaining but also transformative in their impact on the industry.

 

Dr. Eyal, Immortal Ways: Mr First was a big success and was crowned ‘Best Online Casino Game’ at the BFTH Arena Awards. What has been the key behind this game’s triumph?

Dr. Eyal Loz: We wanted to connect with the authenticity of the Mr First character. Wouldn’t it be fun to get a shirtless Mr. First travel back in time to ancient Egypt? We combined this art narrative with our strongest performing mechanic, Immortal Ways, to create an appealing immersive gaming experience.

 

With the increasing demand for innovative gaming experiences, what role does BetConstruct see collaborative events like the BFTH Arena Awards playing in driving industry innovation?

Ruzanna Elchyan: BetConstruct recognises the growing demand for innovative gaming experiences and sees collaborative events like the B.F.T.H. Arena Awards as instrumental in driving industry innovation. These events serve as platforms for companies to showcase their latest creations, exchange ideas, and inspire one another to push the boundaries of what’s possible in iGaming. BetConstruct is dedicated to supporting and participating in such events to foster industry-wide innovation and growth.

 

Dr. Eyal, talk us through the development of RubyPlay’s Mad Hit Olympic First, what differentiates this title from previous games within the ‘Mad Hit’ series?

Dr. Eyal Loz: The Summer Olympic games are coinciding with the BFTH Arena Awards. This gave us an idea, connecting the narrative of Mr. First taking on big challenges with style, in a fun way. We thought “Wouldn’t it be fun if Mr First represented BetConstruct in the Olympics?”. So, this time, our Mr. First is an Olympic cycling champion, who will bring home some gold medals! The Mad Hit mechanic is a 5X5 reel array with 25 independent reels, and 3,125 ways to win. I’m sure players will love it!

 

And Ruzanna, what do you like most about RubyPlay’s latest bespoke title Mad Hit Olympic First?

Ruzanna Elchyan: Mad Hit Olympic First stands out for its innovative fusion of the Olympic spirit with the excitement of online gaming. This unique approach creates an immersive experience that transports players into the world of competitive sports. The game’s storyline is rich and captivating, drawing players in with its narrative depth and attention to detail. Combined with its engaging gameplay mechanics, Mad Hit Olympic First offers a truly distinctive gaming experience that sets it apart from other titles in the market.

Could you elaborate on the collaborative efforts between RubyPlay and BetConstruct that contributed to the game’s success and how this collaboration might evolve for future projects?

Dr. Eyal Loz: Our partnership with BetConstruct is based on a lot of mutual respect. We both see each other as tenacious innovators, never afraid trying new original business and design directions. For example, both companies celebrate creative fine arts, and try to bring that appreciation into our core business values. When two successful organisations share core elements in their vision, successful collaborations and opportunities are inevitable.

 

How important is BetConstruct’s partnership with RubyPlay? What do they offer differently to other game studios?

Ruzanna Elchyan: BetConstruct’s collaboration with RubyPlay holds immense importance, as it facilitates the delivery of a diverse and captivating selection of games to players, effectively distinguishing them in the fiercely competitive iGaming market. RubyPlay’s distinctiveness among game studios stems from its unique development approach and unwavering dedication to innovation. This commitment makes RubyPlay an invaluable partner for BetConstruct, enriching our offerings and enhancing the overall gaming experience for our players.

 

What does the future hold for the RubyPlay / BetConstruct partnership?

Dr. Eyal Loz: We will continue working together in multiple markets. I’m really looking forward to seeing our new innovative product and promotional initiatives rolled out for the BetConstruct players. As always, when we all row together in the same direction, the sky is the limit.

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