Rory Kimber is the Marketing Director for 1×2 Network and he believes the future success of our sector relies upon embracing new products and technologies emerging in the market. He shared his thoughts below detailing what this looks like in practical terms.
Since the lockdown, the popularity of virtual sports has grown significantly. Do you expect to see this growth continue? Should more operators be looking to this vertical going forward?
“Virtual growth was a key feature in our success this year, and players did continue to play once sport returned. We see a lot of our growth in the emerging markets and our Instant Football products are successful in areas that mobile data is at a premium. I’d definitely recommend it to operators as a vertical, it’s so easy to implement and the segment of players is quite specialised so why not tap into that?
“It also gives cross-sell opportunities now big sporting events have returned and the players that are converted into Slots/Virtuals multi-product players are some of the most valuable in my experience. There’s a lot of positives for virtual sports as a product and no real negatives.”
The slots and online casino markets have skyrocketed since the shutdown of physical casinos. Is this market becoming oversaturated and how can operators use their portfolio of games to stand out from the crowd?
“I wouldn’t say the market is oversaturated. Whilst acquisition will be tougher, there’s still room for people doing things the right way to steal market share – particularly in newly regulating and emerging markets. As for standing out, content is king, that’s for sure.
“For operators, it’s all about balance – looking to give players a wide variety of games to try but including a mix of things that are a lot more innovative and may fly or may flop. It’s also important not to forget some of the more traditional segments of players (especially in a time with such land-based to online conversion) like fruit game players who sometimes go a long time without seeing new content they like as everyone tries to find the next big thing.
“In general customers like trying new things, as long as they are not too complicated, and once the casino has identified something their players enjoy, for example, Hold and Win content, it’s the operators’ task to put the very best versions of that in front of the customer.”
What are your thoughts on new technology such as AI or 5G? They give game suppliers the ability to deliver higher quality games with richer content. Is this something you see potential in, and will you be integrating this into your product offering going forward?
“AI is without a doubt going to transform all of technology as it grows. From a supplier perspective, we need to use it to identify gaps in the market and also help from a maths perspective – making sure our games are perfectly balanced and suit the type of player we’re aiming for.
“It’s also going to become a big part of operators lobby positioning strategy, putting the games that suit individual players best in front of them. This means we can become even more specific with the content we make and don’t have to soften it to appeal to players who may stumble across it.
“5G is a more immediate change for us. Mobile-first games have been a focus of the industry for some time but with faster loading times and the ability to have heavier games if needed means some of the constraints we usually work in will be lifted.
“The difficulty will be getting the balance right between those game releases and the ones aimed at markets who are still nowhere near getting 5G. There’s no doubt that both the technologies you mention will play a pivotal role in our industry from a supplier perspective, but the question is how quickly it will become a factor. ”
1×2 Gaming recently acquired a new license in Greece. How do you see this market developing and what do you see as the key growth drivers in this region?
“As we’ve seen in Germany, new regulations can lead to operators needing new RTP variants quickly. It goes without saying that to grow in the market you need to be there as quickly as possible and with all the technology correct to adhere to the regulations – but when it comes to things like RTP mixed messages from operators often make it difficult.
“Luckily some of our longest relationships are with operators who know the Greek market better than anyone so we can work with the experts to make sure we have the right games ready. We saw a lot of success with our Branded Megaways product with those customers and so it really shows how brand loyalty plays a big role in the market.
Growth will come from understanding the player on a more granular level and making sure we fulfil those needs (as I believe it does in every market) and we feel we’re as well placed as anyone to do that.”
Looking long term, Rory believes that the real opportunities for growth rely upon the continued success of emerging products such as virtual sports. Many industry commentators felt that numbers may drop once live sports returned but betting activity on virtual sports has remained high.
New, promising regions to be explored include Greece, despite constantly evolving market dynamics. Ultimately, it will be our ability as an industry to understand the player at an ultra-micro level, ensuring all customer needs are predicted and satisfied that will be the winning factor!