At ICE 2015, online games developer Gamevy won 32% of the industry vote to be crowned the inaugural Pitch ICE winners, the competition for start-ups produced by GamCrowd and Clarion Events. Twelve months on and the employee-owned company will be back at ICE – not as a fledgling business but as a fully-fledged exhibitor on stand N2-320. Co-founder and Gamevy Marketing Director, Helen Walton, explains how Pitch ICE was a ‘game-changer’ with the business growing in value ten-fold in the ensuing year.
How important was it to win the ICE Pitch competition and how would you say it has helped the business?
There’s no doubt ICE was a game-changer for us. It was the catalyst that helped us find investment, sign our first two customers and make a major change in our strategy. This last point is key. Before then we knew that our launch plans were, shall we say ‘optimistic’: the conversations we had at ICE helped us to establish a route to market which was slower but also more pragmatic. I would say that the ability to stay open to the new possibilities we came across at ICE has been a key part of our success.
Since ICE we have spent a year in which we needed to change our technology to suit the needs of our customers, redesign our games mathematically to take advantage of a partner offering us the ability to support jackpots of up to £5m, and radically expand our product range (including their provision in multiple languages) as we understand the possibilities of supplying particular lottery customers.
So although the snappy soundbite might be that winning ICE helped us find investment that was not actually its true value. Far more important was the change in direction that we undertook as a result of the conversations that opened up.
Why you have chosen to exhibit in London?
This is – quite simply – the biggest showcase for the industry. We want to give people the chance to play our games and show what we can do. We’ve discovered from long experience that it is far easier to get a conversation with the right person when they are walking through the hall. Cold-calling people and sending out speculative emails tends to be a poor way to generate leads by comparison. But at ICE, people come already predisposed to find out more, to explore what’s new and to sit down and have a chat.
How would you summarise your objectives from exhibiting?
There’s four main boxes to tick and in no particular order – to find new customers, attract media attention, discover possible partners / collaborators and to keep up to date with industry developments.
Is it possible to quantify how the business has grown since winning the Pitch?
We believe that the business has increased in value by almost ten times since Feb 2015 -a truly staggering growth rate, but one which we expect to see confirmed by an upcoming external valuation.
What do you think ICE delivers that other events don’t?
SIZE! We had a wonderful conference at EiG in Berlin where we found the ability to meet with a number of operators in a more relaxed setting was very helpful, but we are looking forward to meeting greater numbers and generating even more leads at ICE. This is the biggest event of its kind in the world and it has the momentum and energy to deliver. Also you can’t beat the internationalism of ICE. We are launching our games in seven countries and expect to be in more soon, so an international audience is also key for us.
Are you launching any new formats/products/initiatives at ICE?
Absolutely. We will be launching our new instant win games and – we hope – an extraordinary new slots product, the first specifically designed for the lottery player. Our instant wins are all about giving the player control. We feel that for too long gaming has been married to its legacy and has failed to truly embrace the creative opportunities of new technology. Take a really simple example – most scratch-cards continue to act as if they are simply paper, translated online. This is crazy! The digital environment allows for a much more engaging and interactive experience where player choices actually matter. Our instant wins put player choice at the heart of the game – there’s a million pounds to win on every game – what matters is what YOU do.
The ICE creative for 2016 is ‘Enter the Gaming Technopolis’ – does this resonate with your view of the event as a technology show?
Sure! Right now we’re a pop-up bar in the world of Gaming Technopolis, but it won’t be long before all the cool kids are hanging out at Gamevy.