Interview: CEO James Marshall speaks with SBC Leaders on the shifting landscape of the online gaming market

The landscape of the online gaming market is continually changing. One of the more recent developments has been that of the lowering of stakes in slots, along with other suggested changes for further responsible gambling.

Our CEO, James Marshall recently spoke with SBC Leaders to give his thoughts on this.

Entertainment is always front and centre of all igaming conversations, particularly with the ever-increasing regulatory microscope that the industry currently finds itself under. With this in mind, could slots, in particular, become a more low-stake entertainment led vertical?

It’s getting to the point where it’s going to have to. Longer term, I certainly see slots becoming a low stake, higher volume type of product simply for it to be sustainable. If, as many have done in recent times, we compare it to something like Netflix – roughly £10 a month is considered to be a manageable investment for the entertainment provided. So, from a slots perspective, if we can achieve a higher volume of players with less reliance on VIPs over time, it makes sense. This will allow us to compete with the other forms of entertainment out there to capture a bigger audience.

The real challenge though is going to be capturing that high player volume. Regulations are already dictating slower gameplay, with lower stakes likely to come along soon. There’s also the whistle to whistle bans on TV ads, bonusing and promotions essentially being shut down in some markets, so we have to consider how to capture the bigger audience and build the player base. To compete on a larger scale in terms of player numbers, the industry needs to become more socially acceptable. We’ll then see the effect of that, allowing for more ads and the industry being more visible, but also, even more powerful, word of mouth.

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Would you say that wider-mass appeal, but with a lower expenditure per individual, is the way that the industry is heading? And why? If so, what does this look like and would any sacrifices have to be made in terms of game development to achieve it?

It is going that way, regulators are pushing for that, and the industry will become more sustainable long term, which of course is great, but this will bring challenges for game design. Thinking about other forms of entertainment such as mobile games, you have low spend, a small one-off cost to purchase or in-game purchases and that’s a key area we’re competing against.

In terms of design; speed and pace are incredibly important to how we entertain users – you can even have a lower stake game and that’s fine, but this means the income is lower and if you start slowing games down, ultimately it’s going to affect engagement – it’s a huge risk to sustainability. Timing and pace are vital in capturing your audience and these are the sorts of potential sacrifices we’re very much aware of as a studio. We’re looking at the regulations and how we can make something fun while reducing the pace of the game along with maintaining the level of entertainment on lower stakes.

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The risk is losing players to other forms of entertainment as a result, or they leave the regulated space altogether to find faster games with different types of stakes. Finding that right balance is absolutely key; safe, responsible products that are entertaining and are commercially viable and we’re confident we can achieve that.

The original interview can be found here on page 46: SBC Leaders, Issue 2

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