Succeeding in Canada: The Play’n GO Approach

Making a strong entrance into new markets isn’t always straightforward unless you’re a legendary games creator with decades of experience, like Play’n GO, in which case it can seem easy.

Established in 2005, Play’n GO is a leading casino games studio operating in 26+ regulated gambling markets. For over 15 years, this Swedish powerhouse studio has set trends in Europe, creating innovative grid-slots, cult-status themes, and electrifying in-game bonus features.

More recently, under the direction of their Regional Director for US, Saam Hafezi, Play’n GO has been striking a new winning line by turning its attention to players in North America. In the past two years alone, they’ve expanded into Ontario, New Jersey, Michigan, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Quebec. Plus, they recently sealed an exclusive deal with Loto-Québec, cementing their position as the sole iGaming operator in Québec.

In this rare one-to-one interview, IGF’s Head of Content, Curtis Roach, caught up with Saam to discuss the brand’s progress in Canada, how they see the market developing, and what’s trending with players.

Why was it so important for Play’n GO to join the Canadian Gaming Association, and how will it help you give more value to your customers in the future?

“The CGA is the national trade association for Canada and Canadian gaming interests. Canada is a hugely important market for us, and as a prominent supplier in the country, it only made sense that we would join.

“Play’n GO isn’t a Canadian company. We rely on information from those better placed than us within the region to make the best decisions we can, and we believe the information we will get from the CGA will prove invaluable to our interests. We believe that there is tremendous potential for growth in Canada, and we need to be involved at the earliest stages to take advantage of that growth. We want to contribute positively to the Canadian iGaming landscape, as we have done elsewhere, and membership in the CGA will allow us to do that.

“We’re glad to say the CGA shares our aims of a sustainable, safety-led industry, and we’re looking forward to working with the team over there.”

Play’n GO are currently active in Ontario and Quebec, following an exciting new partnership with Loto-Québec. What do you see as the biggest growth drivers for these markets, and how will these factors impact your product roadmap going forward?

“The evidence shows that, in our industry, the strongest markets are regulated markets. Play’n GO has repeatedly made it clear that we want to be active in every regulated market in the world and to use our platform to push for a responsible, sustainable, entertainment-led industry. We want to partner up with white traffic operators in Canada and to see the industry expand via that avenue.

“As regards our product roadmap, it won’t really change in the short-term. We design and produce games for a global audience, with the goal of entertaining players everywhere. In the long term, we will, of course, listen to our operator partners in Ontario, Loto-Quebec, and our new friends in the CGA with the aim of offering the best online casino experience to Canadian players.”

What type of game content is most popular in Canada, and how does it differ from other markets in North America or Europe?

“It really depends on who you ask! The perspective we’ve gleaned from our conversations with current and prospective operator partners is that content from European suppliers is resonating very strongly with players in Canada, even more than content from more traditional land-based suppliers. There are, of course, instances of cross-play between land-based and digital-based, and this gives an inherent advantage to land-based suppliers in the short-term.

“We strongly believe in our content and our ability to adapt to the market’s demands. We are confident that with increased exposure to our content and, in turn, increased awareness of our brand, our products will perform very strongly in Canada, as they have done in every market. The advantages of making content for a global audience are worth the challenge involved in doing just that.

“We’ve seen how popular grid-slots are in North America, and we are known as the pioneers of that type of slot game. Canadian players won’t be as familiar with grid-slots as their European counterparts, so part of our job will be to showcase these games to them. That’s what we’re committed to doing to earn success.”

How will the wealth of knowledge and experience gained from other new markets, such as North America, help Play’n GO serve this nascent Canadian market? Is there any transferred value?

“Every supplier, including Play’n GO, needs to understand that each market is different, even within countries. That is to say, there will be differences between Ontario and Quebec, between Michigan and New Jersey, between Pennsylvania and West Virginia, to give a few examples.

“Our base position is to continue creating what we believe to be the best online casino gaming experience in the world, with the best games. We put a huge emphasis on quality in our games, in everything from the graphics to the soundtrack. We believe that these fundamentals play a big role in the popularity of our games, and that commitment to quality won’t ever change.

“What we will do, and this is something we are already doing, is speak to our operator partners in each market, listen to what they have to say about player behaviour and gameplay preferences, and explore how we can use that information, not only our own benefit, but for the industry as a whole. Play’n GO has been making games for almost 20 years now, and we firmly believe that our experience gives us a significant edge as a supplier partner for operators.”

Editor’s Note:

Play’n GO’s commitment to creating high-quality games that align with sustainable and safe gaming goals is evident, and it’s paying off. The company is now one of Canada’s most prominent providers (and, in the case of Québec, the only provider).

With 20 years of experience and a vast back catalogue of games tailor-made to suit global gaming appetites, Play’n GO’s content is proving a big hit in Canada. But this doesn’t mean a one-size-fits-all model is best for everyone; providers must remember that each market is unique, and that’s why joining trade bodies with local know-how and listening to feedback are essential.

In Saam’s view, the fundamentals of getting it right are focusing on high-quality games, actively listening to local partners, and delivering experiences that drive brand awareness.

Providers must also showcase what they do best, which, in Play’n GO’s case, is providing “the best online casino gaming experience in the world” and using their “platform to push for a responsible, sustainable, entertainment-led industry”.

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