Returning to the world’s largest gaming expo with an even bigger stand than last year, gaming specialist Playtech will be showcasing the evolution of its innovative Playtech ONE solution, as well as hosting a series of TED-style talks at its stand via the popular ICE Academy. Marketing director Luke Davis talks to Betting Business about the prospects ahead for the year.
[dropcap]B[/dropcap]etting Business: Let’s start by having a quick look back at the past year. What were the major milestones for Playtech’s gaming division and the company more broadly?
Luke Davis: The business continues to go from strength-to-strength with strong progress in our primary gaming division with new licensees and renewals securing future growth and our financials division positioned for sustainable growth. This, coupled with the continued implementation of our M&A strategy with the acquisitions of BGT, Quickspin and ECM this year means we remain confident of strong growth in the short and longer term.
BB: Can you reveal anything about your presence at ICE this year? Will you be holding the popular ‘ICE Academy’ at your stand?
Luke Davis:This year’s stand is 20 percent bigger than in 2016 and focuses on Playtech ONE, our suite of software that presents operators and their customers, with a seamless, anytime, anywhere experience across any product, any channel and any device using a single account and single wallet. The stand and ICE 2017 message is ‘Experience is Everything’ and will showcase the evolution of Playtech ONE and how it is increasingly enabling operators to connect every element of their offering to enable a true omni-channel experience.
Our pioneering innovation has enabled licensees to bridge the retail-online-mobile gap, giving their customers what they want, when they want it, in any location or time and on whatever location or time and on whatever hardware they choose to use.
There will also be a heavy focus on content this year with a series of experiential elements that ICE visitors will be able to interact with and enjoy.
The Academy continues to goes from strength-to-strength and gets bigger and more popular every year. This year we have a number of external speakers alongside key internal Playtech experts giving a series of 15, 15-minute TED Talk-style presentations on areas from content marketing to unveiling Playtech’s new Playtech BGT Sports vision and an exclusive look at our sports offering’s new UI. The theme for this year’s Academy is ‘The Playtech Difference’ which encapsulates it well in that none of our competitors offer a value-added service of training and eLearning on the huge range of products at our disposal.
BB: Your partnership with DC Comics has become a huge part of your gaming output and brand, capturing the imagination of gaming fans across the world. To what extent is this partnership continuing in 2017, and will it once again be a major focus for Playtech at ICE?
Luke Davis:I’m afraid it’s a case of watch this space on this one, however what we can say is that it will form a core element of our branded content strategy going forward.
BB: Over the past few years, you’ve made a huge investment in your virtual sports offering – ensuring state-of-the-art graphics and ultra-realistic gameplay. Has this paid off so far, and do you feel this is a sector that has further to go to reach ‘peak popularity’?
Luke Davis:Entering the Virtual Sports industry later than some of our competitors has been to our advantage. We have been able to take the best aspects of Virtual Sports and significantly improve every aspect of the experience.
Not only does our offering look and perform best in class, it is also based on solid principles from the services side. Taking football as an example, we have examined huge volumes of player and team data and created unique match simulations. This gives players a far more realistic experience with a representation of real life expectations.
Whereas our competitors use simple number generators, we use business intelligence analytics and simulation technology to determine a multitude of game permutations. In addition, the motion capturing work we have created in the last 12 months has added such a level of detail that it has provided us with enough content to last us well into the future.
Our virtual sports product provides players with the best experience available today. Our use of the most advanced technology available not only gives players an incredibly realistic experience, but also positions us as clear industry leaders and will continue to do so for many years to come.
BB: With the recent FRV Finland deal, Playtech has strengthened its position in an important (but perhaps less saturated and well known) gaming market. Will this kind of approach be important for the firm this year, forging relationships with forward-thinking operators in growth regions around the world?
Luke Davis:This has always been one of our priorities, however with more markets regulating and looking to regulate, this is becoming an increasingly important factor. We pride ourselves on being leaders in regulated markets and therefore have the ability and experience to identify and work with forward thinking regulators and giving our guidance and sharing best practice.
BB: Playtech’s brand is very much centred around its reputation as an omni-channel supplier, capitalising on the growth of the mobile and remote market. Do you think 2017 be the year that mobile takes over for good – or has it done so already?
Luke Davis:Mobile is significant and continues to grow, however we believe there is far more growth left and we are in a prime position to take advantage of that trend. The beauty is that our software capabilities work together across all channels and devices and this is an increasingly important part of operators’ ambitions.