Magnus Olsson, Head of Sales and Account Management at Play’n GO, talks trends, trials, and how to stay afloat in today’s more tightly regulated and contested markets.
Can you run us through some of Play’n GO’s personal highlights so far in 2019?
MAGNUS OLSSON: We started 2019 with high ambitions; our objective was to launch 40 games, and we have not only delivered on that, but we’ve also done it without compromising on quality. In fact, the majority of our game releases this year have been top 5, or even top 3, launches, something we take great pride in. During this year we launched our Play’n Show series. Play’n Show is a forum where we invite our customers to learn about our upcoming games releases via talks from our designers and producers. So far we have hosted these events in Malta, Barcelona and London; and we plan to continue. The great thing with Play’n Show is that we can really show the core value of what we bring to the market. We are immensely proud of our content, and it is a privilege to be able to share it with the operators. We’re also very proud of what we have achieved with our sales and account management team. We have built a hugely diverse team of men and women with a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and all have proven they can operate at the highest level with Play’n GO. I have always believed in building a strong squad through diversity, and this team proves me right.
What tech or consumer trends in gaming have been generating the most traction at the recent show and exhibitions?
MO: 3D is still a big draw for slot games. We launched our first fully 3D slot, Contact, early in the year and it was a success, and so we will definitely build upon that. People are looking for something different; it doesn’t necessarily have to be high tech. For instance, our slot release Wild Rails was very well received due to the fact it contains horizontal reels as opposed to vertical ones. It’s doing great, and these kinds of games are the types of games that will win over time, simple yet innovative. In general, with so much choice in the current market, the biggest necessity is quality. This is great for us as quality is one of our key values, along with “trust” and “energy”. If I were to name the one thing that sets us apart it would be our unwavering dedication to ensuring quality in whatever we do.
Regulation is obviously a dominant factor, presenting opportunities but also costs and complications. How will this trajectory towards tighter controls shape the industry in the coming years and months – for better or worse?
MO: We prefer regulated jurisdictions; regulation provides stability, a level of predictability and most importantly, support to players, operators and suppliers. We are at a pivotal moment in gaming history; the industry will be less volatile and mature into a proper entertainment business. This will only serve to benefit serious performers with long term strategies. The recent M&A activity is a clear sign of the times, we expect this to continue, and it will be driven by regulation. But, to get better results faster, I would like to see regulators communicate with each other to a greater extent. By aligning regulations across jurisdictions, they would be able to act faster and be more assertive. At the same time, we as suppliers or operators would be able to operate more efficiently with less risk. I understand that taxation has to be local, but most other issues in regulation would work better and have a more positive impact if there were coordination between regulators.
We’ve seen more markets opening than closing over the past few years, but also more and more companies are piling into them. What can operators do to stand out from the masses of options available?
MO: The best thing about growing in a competitive market is that it leaves a lot of room for more variety and differentiation. I wouldn’t claim to know how to do an operator’s job, but from where we’re standing it looks like those doing well generally have a solid game plan and an established strategy that not only tells them WHAT to do but also WHY to do it, WHERE to do it and for WHOM. Instead of referring to unquantifiable claims like “best casino”, we now see operators addressing certain customer segments, in certain jurisdictions with a certain flavour of content, and that seems to be the right way to go about it. The recent exits from UKI are a clear signal that those operators have done their homework and executed a strategy.
In this context, which approaches would suggest are proving to be the most effective at maintaining a loyal player base?
MO: First and foremost, know them better than the competition; communicate with them, tailor content to their tastes. Use BI and AI to make their experiences as unique and varied as possible. This is something we like to assist with; our BI is an extremely valuable asset that we regularly refer to when discussing the market with our customers. It’s important not to try and be everything to everyone. Take a long hard look at the partners you have in play; get rid of the distractions, focus on the partners and the content that supports your strategy and stop spending time and resources on things that don’t add any real value.