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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.

Interviews

“Our Product is Young, Flexible, and Dynamic” – Anhelina Stasiuk on the Future of the SOFTSWISS Jackpot Aggregator

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“Our Product is Young, Flexible, and Dynamic” - Anhelina Stasiuk on the Future of the SOFTSWISS Jackpot Aggregator
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

European Gaming met with Anhelina Stasiuk after her appointment as Head of Business Line at the SOFTSWISS Jackpot Aggregator to learn about her plans for the product. In this interview, Anhelina shares her vision for expanding the client base, enhancing player engagement, and maintaining top-notch service and technological innovation.

 

Congratulations on your recent appointment as Head of Business Line at SOFTSWISS Jackpot Aggregator! Can you share your immediate priorities with us in this new role?

Thank you for your congratulations.

I am pleased to have this opportunity because the SOFTSWISS Jackpot Aggregator, being one of the newest products in the SOFTSWISS ecosystem, presents vast opportunities for development. Its technological advancements and timeless appeal make it a top-notch engagement tool in high demand among our clients.

Our meticulous approach focuses on technology to ensure we deliver high-quality solutions. As the new Head of Business Line at SOFTSWISS Jackpot Aggregator, my priority is to expand our client base by tapping into the clients of the SOFTSWISS Game Aggregator. I believe this tool is a ‘must-have’ for them. They can seamlessly launch the SOFTSWISS Jackpot Aggregator and join the Network Jackpot, offering their players a thrilling experience and the chance for significant wins.

Expanding our Network Jackpots is another priority in our strategy. Our research shows that network jackpots increase player engagement and enhance performance metrics for participating casinos. The shared pool mechanic is particularly attractive to players, offering more substantial rewards than individual branded jackpots.

 

Can you explain how the SOFTSWISS Jackpot Aggregator differentiates itself from other jackpot solutions in the market from your point of view?

We continuously study our competitors, and our Network Jackpot consistently delivers excellent results, giving us a significant market advantage.

A key strength is our collaboration with game providers. For example, we have launched network jackpots with providers like Evolution and currently have a campaign running with Apparat Gaming. These collaborative jackpots highlight their portfolios and open new initiatives for SOFTSWISS Game Aggregator’s clients. The Jackpot Aggregator’s unique mechanics and the Game Aggregator’s user-friendly settings make these launches seamless and fast.

Additionally, we allow other platforms to organise their own jackpot networks. We can integrate with third-party platforms, enabling them to launch and manage their networks effortlessly.

Our Jackpot Aggregator is versatile and compatible with sportsbooks, which is rare in the market. Betting jackpots are especially exciting during major sports events. For example, we launched jackpots for several SOFTSWISS Sportsbook’s clients during the European Football Championship. With flexible settings, brands can create different jackpots to meet the heightened interest in sports betting.

Moreover, we can run joint campaigns for both casino and sports betting, which is another unique feature. This versatility allows our clients to maximise engagement across different types of gaming activities.

 

How do you envision the SOFTSWISS Jackpot Aggregator evolving, and what impact do you expect these changes to have on SOFTSWISS’s market position?

The SOFTSWISS Jackpot Aggregator is a universal and modern tool that can be implemented not only in casino games but also across the entire iGaming system. All SOFTSWISS products integrate seamlessly, and the Jackpot Aggregator is no exception. It enables unified campaigns combining casino games and sportsbooks, enriching the user experience and allowing casinos to customise launches quickly and easily.

 

Customer satisfaction is crucial for any product’s success. What strategies will you implement to ensure that the Jackpot Aggregator continues to meet and exceed your clients’ expectations?

A partner recently emphasised that while a product may be perfect, service is equally crucial. They emphasised that they would always choose the option with excellent service. At SOFTSWISS, we are committed to excelling in both areas – ensuring our product is stable and our service outstanding.

Our technical team is dedicated to maintaining top performance, ensuring the product can handle any load, regardless of the client’s size, supporting existing functionality, and developing new features. We pride ourselves on our technology.

Equally, we prioritise excellent communication and a solid client-oriented approach in our hiring process, supporting our managers’ qualifications through ongoing training.

Our account managers focus on providing quick responses. We have established minimum response time standards to ensure clients receive timely assistance, even on weekends. We understand that time is money, and our clients trust that their requests will always be processed promptly, with the necessary support and advice for effective operations.

 

What are the main challenges for you in this new position?

The challenge is to demonstrate that I can achieve everything I have planned. I have a proven track record of success and am eager to lead us forward in this new role. With the team, we will explore new opportunities and continue to develop the product.

We are prepared to enter new markets and work with clients to consider new markets at their request. Our young, flexible, and dynamic product makes it well-suited for expansion and adaptation.

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Interviews

A mix of skill and chance: Bitblox on the potential for crypto prediction games

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A mix of skill and chance: Bitblox on the potential for crypto prediction games
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

The rise of cryptocurrency over the last few years has been inescapable. From the launch of new tokens to Bitcoin reaching record highs, the world of crypto is slowly becoming much more popular – and the iGaming space has been no exception to its influence.

Making its debut earlier this year, Bitblox has already made its mark on the iGaming industry with a new vertical: crypto prediction games. With games such as Up or Down, Up or Down Turbo and BitSlap making up its portfolio, Bitblox prides itself on blending games of skill with games of chance, thereby offering something completely new for players.

Brandt Page, Chief Executive Officer of Bitblox, walks us through the company’s journey so far and how crypto prediction games can help operators to tap into the elusive Millennial and Gen Z player bases.

 

Can you start by giving us a very quick elevator pitch – who is Bitblox, and how are you bringing something new to the industry?

Bitblox is really bringing something new to the market that players haven’t seen before. We don’t build slots, or crash games. We are creating games that are a genuine combination of games of skill, and games of chance. Our first games are centred around players making a prediction on the price of Bitcoin – one game runs in 60 second intervals, while the other is much quicker at 20 seconds.

What we have done is really quite bold for the industry. If you walk around the expo floor of any conference now, you’ll see so many different slot titles or crash games. It’s the same in casino lobbies online too. These types of games are fantastic, but our mission was to create something unique for the players.

We also wanted to find a way that would allow us to introduce the iGaming industry to cryptocurrency in a way that is easy to understand. After some internal discussions, and chats with people at industry events, we settled on the idea of cryptocurrency prediction games – they are straightforward, engaging and can act as a platform to introduce players to the world of crypto without overwhelming them.

 

You describe yourself as offering a blend between games of skill and games of chance. Can you tell us what you mean by that? 

You could look at this from two different angles. Firstly, if you are making a prediction on the price of Bitcoin over a set time period, theoretically speaking, you could actually build a model to look at fluctuations in the price of Bitcoin over the last six months or year. If you were smart enough, you could then build a model that might allow you to extrapolate some of that data and offer some sort of prediction on what might happen in the future, based on particular market conditions.

There will be players that try to do this, especially those that are really interested in the trading element. Our odds provider uses an on-chain probability protocol that helps power the odds for our fixed odds games.

On the pools side of things, the probability protocol also ensures that every pool has sufficient funds to pay out winnings.

The other angle that you could look at this blend is that if you look at some of our future games, such as BitSlap, players are still making a prediction on the Bitcoin price, but others may be more interested in which character will win the slap fighting bout.

In that case, we’ve almost flipped the Bitcoin price to become a random number generator in itself. Players are cheering on a fighter, and becoming invested in an individual character, rather than simply just looking at the fluctuations in price.

You can almost think of our games as the perfect mix between trading and gambling. The reality is, we wanted to create an enjoyable experience for players that delivers something new and unique; players have the opportunity to win, unlike in other verticals where the RTP is unbeatable over time.

 

How will this blend of games of skill and games of chance enable Bitblox, and its operator partners, to engage with both sports bettors and casino players? Does UX play a role here, or is it more about the game itself?

I think it’s hard to say just yet because we are still in the early stages of launching. But based on the discussions we’ve been having at industry events, our games offer operators a way to reach, and engage with, a younger audience that tends to be much more technological and crypto savvy.  This is a generation of bettors who are more likely to be comfortable using a Web3 wallet and trading different cryptocurrencies.

If operators can tap into that player base, they can then start to cross-sell much more traditional content – whether that’s sports betting or casino. Engaging with this audience has been notoriously difficult; this is a topic that has dominated industry discussions for years now, and we believe that it is content such as ours that can help bridge that gap.

On the flip side, you then have the more traditional bettors who haven’t had much exposure to the crypto world. We are bringing crypto to players in a way that is easy to understand and engage with. This can then open the doors to introduce those more ‘traditional’ players to newer content that they may have not tried before.

From the conversations that we’ve been having with operators that we’re working with, a clear pattern that we’ve seen is that games such as ours seem to be getting a lot of traction in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Of course, we are aiming for our games to be popular right across the world.

We’ve seen a growth in popularity for crash games, for slots, and now is the time for crypto prediction games. Players like to feel like they are in control of the outcome – by adding cash out features, we are giving players that sense of control that they might not get with other types of games. But I’m very excited to see how our games are received in different markets around the world.

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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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