iGaming Leaders Roundtable Part 1: Understanding the True Value of Streaming Platforms
Streaming platforms have provided new opportunities for the gaming industry, both in video games and in iGaming. Not only has this changed how people consume gaming content, but also how people create new revenue opportunities.
Here, in Part 1 of this double-header Roundtable session, iGF has gathered a panel of future focused industry leaders to discuss how new technologies in iGaming, coupled with evolving consumer habits are impacting a range of verticals, as well as sharing insights on how operators are adapting to regulation in this space and its impact public perception.
- Max Francis, CEO and Founder at Black Cow Technology
- Troy Paul, Co-founder and CEO of SGG Media
- Tereza Melicharkova, Head of Marketing at Swintt/Glitnor Group
- Michael Pedersen, CCO at Livespins
What is your most common player demographic and how have you tailored your content to that demographic?
Max: “Black Cow is a back-end-only software developer, so we don’t design our own games. But we do work hand-in-hand with various studios, taking a dual-strategy approach with our partners. This allows us to deliver high-quality, engaging games that hit the mark with the current standard/traditional player demographic AND produce next-generation multiplayer slots and table games that attract new, younger audiences.
“For this audience, the level of social interaction offered by a game is a deciding factor in whether they play it or not. For operators looking to engage Millennial and Generation Z cohorts, they absolutely must stock this content in their lobbies, as standard slots and table games just don’t cut the mustard when it comes to socialising.”
Troy: “Our biggest demographic is males aged 21-35. Short-form video content is in demand right now, and we have specialized in this. We recently launched the Splash Sisters podcast, and their short-form video content has proven extremely popular with our audiences. In terms of tailoring content, all we need is great micro-influencers and well-informed content to attract attention.”
Tereza: “This is a bit of a difficult question to answer, because at Swintt our goal has always been to try and target as broad a cross-section of player as possible! Our studio strives to produce content that has true mass-market appeal, but I’d say in general our players can be divided into two main demographics. The first are the more “traditional” players who have grown up enjoying the type of “classic” slot machine that you would find in a land-based casino.
“Our SwinttPremium line-up was designed to cater for this demographic and has proved remarkably successful in both Germany and the Netherlands, as both of these markets have a huge number of players who are more familiar with land-based content. The second group is – for want of a better expression – the “younger generation” of slot player, who are typically found in emerging markets that are more receptive to embracing new technology. This demographic is more interested in playing modern slots with innovative themes and features, which is something we provide through our SwinttGames line-up.”
Michael: “Livespins has significant appeal among Millennials and Generation Z but it’s important to flag that these players are not the young whippersnappers that many think they are. Millennials are approaching their forties and Generation Z their thirties, so they are a fairly mature audience. Of course, these players grew up with connected video games and are used to playing against their friends and even strangers. This means they seek social interaction and engagement when spending their entertainment hours and that’s why casino and slot streaming has become so popular among this demographic.”
What new technologies and changing player habits has your business had to remain aware of in recent years?
Max: “Technology is always making giant leaps forward. Recently, this has seen material changes in scalability, flexibility and efficiency. When you look at the end product, the experience is very much the same as it was ten or maybe even fifteen years ago, but the technologies and platforms firing away under the hood are far more complex, capable and powerful. Player habits don’t really change that much – slots are just as popular now as they were a decade ago – but we are now seeing a fairly seismic shift in the preferences of the next generation of players coming through. The industry needs to understand and embrace how attractive the collaboration elements of video games are to them and start developing and delivering games that not only meet but exceed these expectations.”
Troy: “We have a combined 36 million followers across our network, and they will get nearly 100% of their news from social media. Our 1,600 sports content creators have helped us adapt to changes and keep our audiences engaged with their favourite sports. A big focus is to create fun and engaging content that our customers can relate to and keeps up to date with modern social media trends.”
Tereza: “These days, all of our games are developed with a mobile-first approach, however, we try to retain the core gameplay elements of well-known land-based slots in our SwinttPremium range so as not to alienate players who are still playing on their computers. Beyond that, I think we’re now on the cusp of a number of advancements in AI and machine learning technology that will have a major impact on how studios go about developing games in the not-so-distant future. Not only can these technologies improve the user experience through personalised messaging that is automated and available in real time, but they can even help the developer optimise their releases by analysing data and deciding what works best for each customer. In the coming years, this will open up a lot of exciting opportunities, as you could essentially have a single release that can be experienced many different ways due to the increased number of personalisation options, providing a more tailored experience.”
Michael: “What makes Livespins unique is that players can not only watch the stream but get directly involved by betting behind the streamer, celebrity or brand ambassador. This is only possible because of cutting-edge streaming technologies. Players can start betting immediately, as Livespins is a high-performance video stream and therefore loads much faster than HTML5 code. This means no lag at all, which is achieved through the use of the latest sub-second latency technology for video streams and chat. This has been a critical element to the success of the Livespins product as without it the bet behind system simply wouldn’t function and we wouldn’t be able to offer what is a highly innovative product that meets player needs for social interaction and engagement.”
How would you say these technologies have impacted the verticals your company operates in?
Max: “Black Cow is in the vanguard of this technological innovation and development. Being solely focused on back-end software and game development and features, we really are at the coalface of how these technologies are impacting the casino vertical. Take jackpots, for example. This is an area that has been starved of real innovation for some time now, but our fully flexible Jackpot Server allows operators to build any type of jackpot and launch it across any and all games in their lobby. This is a powerful tool for acquisition and retention and is a proven way of exciting players and generating unrivalled brand loyalty as players can only play for those jackpots at that particular casino brand.
“Just being able to add a jackpot to any game – regardless of whether it is a jackpot slot or not – is a real game-changer.”
Troy: “A lot of SSG Media content had previously been on Twitter, but we have now begun to turn our attention towards streaming platforms. Platforms like Kick and Twitch have proven incredibly successful and are an excellent way to engage with fans. We have started making streaming content like our show “The Splash Sisters”. This is hosted by twin sisters who know and love sports. They have incredible engagement with their fans and also show females can thrive in the sports media world.”
Michael: “These technologies have allowed the Livespins experience to be brought to life. As I said, without the latest sub-second latency technologies for video streams and chat we simply would not have been able to get the concept for Livespins off the ground. Of course, this technology has been built into the proprietary Livespins platform and combined with other features such as Lightning Drops (must-pay jackpots), Lightning Races (our version of tournaments) bonus hunts and themed streams to bring together the worlds of streaming and online casino in a truly unique way. We have been focused on the casino vertical to date and especially slots – in fact, we recently won the EGR B2B Award for Innovation in Slot Provision – but have plans to take our platform and product into other verticals.”
While streaming may be more heavily associated with casino and poker, how likely is it this could transcend to sports betting?
Max: “There’s no reason why streams for sports betting can’t be offered to players and be successful. When you think about the volume of bets that are placed in-play, the two formats are a natural fit. The challenge will be that streamers can’t show the live feed of the games, which has certainly held it back from being widely offered to date. An opportunity to explore could be around engaged communities discussing team news, player performance and betting with a host on a live stream. I guess this is similar to a radio broadcast but with the added live stream element. Regardless, it’s a good example of the opportunities that exist within this space and the room for innovation to bring new experiences to sports fans and bettors.”
Troy: “It will 100% be involved with sports betting, but not in the way you may think. Content creators won’t stream themselves looking at first touchdown statistics to make their bets because no one wants to see that. Instead, you will see influencers streaming themselves, watching the games they have bets on, or doing gambling challenges for their audiences. These ‘watch along’ parties are where sports gambling streaming is heading, and quickly.”
Tereza: “While Swintt don’t focus specifically on sports betting, I’d imagine the streaming model would be slightly harder to adapt to sports betting for a number of reasons. Firstly, when it comes to casino and poker games, the result of a spin or hand is delivered almost instantly and one of the most engaging things about these streams is that you get to witness and share these emotions in real time. While this can also work while watching an actual game, if you’re watching a sports bettor reacting to the game, it’s a little different. If they’re betting on the outcome, they won’t necessarily be able to celebrate the result and show that emotion until the game is over.
“Another key issue would be the fact that with casino and poker, your goal is just to win, and all players can celebrate being a part of that success together. In sports, there are team allegiances, so you may not even want to follow the bets of the streamer you’re watching and there’s likely to be a split in what people are betting on, making it less of a communal celebration each time.”
Michael: “It’s only a matter of time before streaming transcends to sports betting and it’s easy to see how. Instead of betting behind a casino streamer, you bet in-play or live behind an ex-football player or an NFL pundit, tapping into their expertise to guide your wagers. We are experimenting with this right now but, in the meantime, offer a happy medium with some of our casino streamers chatting about sports while they spin the reels. Ultimately, all gambling verticals will need to provide social, interactive live experiences if they are to keep players engaged and coming back for more.”
Look out for Part 2 of this Roundtable session coming soon!