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Play’n GO CEO: how cheaper data packages put casinos in your pocket

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Alex Chen

The shift from land based gaming to mobile has been truly staggering. This CEO talks us through the changes to the industry.

How do you innovate on something relatively simple?

According to Wikipedia, gambling is the “wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money.”

It’s an industry that’s been around for a long time, and one that has been transformed by mobile to become more socially accepted and pervasive than ever before.

With more players to contend with, the real winners are going to be the businesses that can successfully differentiate themselves.

Johan Tornqvist, CEO of Play’n GO talks us through industry changes.

HT: Why has there been such a rapid digitization of the gambling industry?

For me, mobile and mobile connectivity can be held culprit for the rapid digitization of the gambling industry.

It’s catalyzed significant change at a rate much faster than anyone could have predicted.

We actually started out in mobile in 2004, but connectivity and the phones themselves back then just weren’t capable.

The games were quite good but the operators weren’t ready to go mobile then.

It was a big problem at the time because mobile operators were really hard to sell content to.

They didn’t like gambling and data plans were really expensive too.

Today however gambling has seen increased social acceptance, as well as a significant drop in data costs for consumers.

Mobiles penetration affords the ability to gamble wherever and whenever, which in turn makes the whole process more natural.

All this has resulted in the demographic of individuals partaking in gambling changing dramatically.

It has moved from people exclusively using land-based gaming establishments towards pure real money gaming on mobile phones and tablets.

HT: How resistant were customers to adopting this new era of gaming? Did it take a lot to convince existing customers?

It took a little bit of convincing in the beginning.

But I think our success has really come from the work we did with the operators.

A few of the operators began to see the potential in this channel and were trying to push their own mobile content out.

Since we started that early, we were on board with those guys pretty early on because of our mobile content.

HT: In your experience what makes a really great game?

I think nowadays if you look at the change from land-based to mobile, firstly, mobile is quite clearly starting to dominate and what’s more, games are becoming increasingly personal.

To achieve this aspect of personalization, data analysis on trends and players behavioural traits needs to be deeply ingrained in the game building process.

Although remember, content is king.

Looking at trends is quite important too, it’ll give you an idea of what is and isn’t working and will help you drive popularity for your games.

HT: There’s quite a pervasive trend emerging in edtech surrounding personalized learning, it allows users to receive feedback on their progress with games adapting in accordance to skill levels. Do you see this as a trend that may emerge within the gambling industry?

This will definitely start to appear in one form or another.

However one of the biggest challenges of taking any game to market in the digital space is the sheer level of regulation that needs to be contended with.

And as the popularity for gambling increases, so will regulation too.

I think that’s the biggest challenge for companies like us because you want to be able to provide innovations like adaptive learning, but ensuring you are always staying within regulation can be difficult.

It’s a much larger challenge than regular social games for example, who are able to implement change quickly.

Regulated markets aren’t a problem for them, whereas everything in gambling needs to be followed.

HT: What other ways do you see the gambling industry improving the gambling experience for customers?

I think localized content and more personalized experiences are at the forefront of change in this industry.

Moreover, what has had a big impact on customer experience has been the way that operators are being able to do better and more targeted marketing for their customers.

The analysis that they are doing is incredibly sophisticated and it helps give customers the best possible experience, that’s something that I think will really drive the industry as a whole.

There will be a lot of stuff in those areas in the coming years.

HT: Finally, in terms of key industry trends you can see emerging over the next year or so, what are you most excited about?

It’s boring to say, but the integration of more things like in-game achievements and the general gamification of gambling products.

By building competitions around games, engagement will see a real increase. That’s what I see as being a really strong front-runner for the year to come.