Certain suppliers in the online casino space make names for themselves with products that almost become their trademarks. For live dealer and betting games creator, BetGames, its penchant for developing games that haven’t been seen before – by blending elements that stand it apart from the rest. CEO Andreas Koerbel tells us how they achieve this consistent innovation and what drives it.
With BetGames having announced plenty of exciting news in recent months – especially when it comes to tier-one branded content, can you tell us a bit more about your recent launches?
It’s been a really exciting last few months in terms of our product roadmap, with the launch of our newest bespoke game show – created with one of the world’s biggest operator conglomerates. Crypt of Giza is the industry’s first gameshow to include a Pachinko mechanic in the main game. It’s had an incredible reception since launch and reflects the true innovation that went into its development, which we’re delighted with.
To maintain that momentum, we also have six further branded games in the pipeline. Some bespoke and some branded. Having the heritage and expertise that we do in the development of this nature really allows us to diversify and meet the needs of operators across the spectrum. There’s plenty more to announce on that front in due course.
Looking at your big-name partnerships with major operators, including Entain and Betway, what do you see as the demand/use case for exclusive deals?
It’s an interesting question. From the discussions we’ve had and continue to have, advertising and promotion is becoming more and more difficult globally, especially in key mature markets like the UK, mainland Europe and even South Africa. Increasingly stringent regulations are seeing approval for promotions take months and this is having a knock-on effect on operator spend.
We’re now seeing major players moving some of their advertising and promotional spend to bespoke branded games, transitioning slowly from branding to retention. They appear to be asking themselves if they should put another few million towards a branding project or similar to a studio to create unique and bespoke games that can only be played on their brand platform.
Since we completed our recent projects with the likes of Entain and Betway, we’re seeing an uptick in operators approaching us with similar requests. I wouldn’t say it has become mainstream as yet but highly complex bespoke content of the nature we’re involved in is certainly on the increase.
This kind of work has served as a door opener for us and also helps pitch our existing product range too, so now our partnerships with top-tier brands are more commonplace it’s having a positive effect on our growth across the board.
You recently launched Crypt of Giza, which is iGaming’s first ever pachinko gameshow, can you tell us a bit more about this innovative direction and how key do you see themes like Egyptian and Japanese resonating with players when launching new products?
We love the game, and we see that players love it too. It’s the best-performing bespoke launch we’ve ever had by far – which is fantastic given it’s a real debut in the gameshow space. And the incredible thing to note is that it’s currently only live in the UK, so when it rolls out globally, which should happen very soon, the potential is phenomenal.
With the pachinko mechanic – especially when you use such a physical device like we do, the experience is amazing, Watching the ball make its way around the field of play is incredibly engaging and fits the medium perfectly.
We saw in development and early testing that this was something that players loved – the thrill in the unpredictability of the travel of the ball, even up until the last second keeps players on the edge of their seats like nothing else.
We didn’t want to produce another wheel-based game, that approach has served us well before, but it didn’t align with how we’re moving forward as a brand and as a creator of unique products.
In short, Crypt of Giza is new, it’s an exciting, easy-to-play game with that thrilling element of unpredictability. The use of the pachinko mechanic is something that we’ve already seen other suppliers start to work with and we suspect that it’s the next big thing in terms of gameplay.
Combine that with a theme like ancient Egypt that is evergreen and the resulting product makes players feel right at home while delivering a fresh experience.
Diving into the creative process of developing unique branded content for operators, how much do you see BetGames 10 years of experience in the industry giving you an edge over the competition?
I believe our strength stems from owning the full production of games in-house. We do everything ourselves – maths, game design, engineering, operations and this gives us full control and oversight of all our projects which is important.
The other point is that for over a decade, we’ve been renowned for creating unique games – it’s a key part of our legacy and a real USP of ours. The feedback that we get is that we’re always in the frame when there is a requirement to create something that isn’t run of the mill, and this allows us to remain comfortably at the top table.
When it comes to branded games – what are the core challenges that one must overcome to create something special, and what goes into the process to make them truly unique for your partners?
One of the key things we need to distinguish is the difference between branding and bespoke. Branding often involves simply taking an existing concept and slapping a name on it – like a branded Roulette environment – whereas bespoke does what it says – it’s something new and unique. Crypt of Giza is just that, there’s no branding on there and performs due to its inherent strengths.
A bespoke game is an involved iterative process, requiring time and commitment – an incredible challenge, but because of our heritage of successfully delivering projects that perform we enjoy a level of trust with our partners that we can deliver on.
Crypt of Giza, for example, was 18 months of hard work – true innovation isn’t achieved overnight, and you can see that in the finished product. Patience, an appreciation for the creative process and the openness to accept fundamental changes during this process are key, it’s unpredictable. To achieve the right result, it’s unrealistic to expect this kind of finished product in less than 12 months. It’s a labour of love, trust and close collaboration but the results are there for all to see.
Looking at BetGames’ focus for 2023-24 – do you see this as being a core pillar of your creative direction and can we look forward to plenty more of it?
The bespoke channel is a fantastic but challenging direction to take and something we enjoy working on – but to make something truly special, you have to be selective with the projects you undertake, as it’s a good 18 months of intense development that is hugely involved.
We actually only agree to engage with a small percentage of the requests we receive, such is our determination to allocate our resources and deliver the right products to the best of our ability, maintaining the high quality we’re renowned for.
It’s a fantastic pillar of our overall offering but there is of course a lot more to come. We have several branded games in the pipeline which are a mix of bespoke and branded games, which we continue to offer going forward.
To be the leader in your space – I believe focusing on quality over quantity is always the best route forward – and we’ll continue to assess each approach on its own merits and continue to produce content that drives value and growth for both ourselves and our partners. We’re very excited for the year ahead – and have plenty to look forward to when it comes to new announcements, so watch this space!