Relax Gaming is one of a new breed of game developers that is helping to push the online gaming sector forward. CasinoBeats talks to Relax CEO Daniel Eskola about the success to date – and the challenges that lay ahead

Relax seems to have quickly established itself as an influential name in game development and supply – what would you say is the main reason for this rapid progression?

DE: “Relax Gaming was founded in 2010 with the ambition of simplifying B2B content delivery. The vision was to build quicker and smarter with a view to being able to easily adopt new technologies and scale-up long-term. However, back then the challenge was to develop a bespoke product for Unibet.

“we’ve expanded rapidly… with an ethos of levelling the playing field via transparency and collaboration

“Over the past year, we’ve expanded rapidly to capitalise on our significant distribution with an ethos of levelling the playing field via our commitment to transparency and collaboration in our commercial approach.

“We’re very pleased that the approach appears to resonate with studios and operators as well as our collaboration with other platforms such as Leander and AGS. We’ve therefore rolled out our content with operators including ComeOn and Hero Gaming in 2018, while our range of provider partners following on from the launch of our Silver Bullet partnership program now includes companies such as American Gaming Systems and Big Time Gaming.

“The combination of the open partnership and ongoing dialogue with our partners that we strive to achieve and the engagement of Relax’s growing team with this philosophy is vital to our progress.”

Can you expand on the launch of Silver Bullet – and the partner program’s key selling points?

“We launched Silver Bullet in 2018 to provide the fastest and most efficient way for up-and-coming game studios to reach more than 300 casino brands – allowing them to focus on building the best possible games while we take care of compliance, platform maintenance, partner support and the entirety of back-office monitoring and operations.

“For operators, the combination of our own content and that of our Silver Bullet and Powered By partners means that they have seamless access to more than 280 games through our platform. This includes a rapidly expanding range of exciting providers at the cutting edge of game development.

“Established names are complemented by out-of-the-box thinking studios that are pushing the boundaries of what’s on offer.

“Furthermore, at a time when many industry suppliers seek to segment and close off the
relationships between game developers and operators, we have carved out a truly unique
proposition for Relax Gaming, encouraging dialogue between all commercial parties through open distribution agreements with flat and clear fee structures.

“Attracting and retaining the best people for the job is central to the success of any company

“We will be looking to further expand the number of studios we are partnered with in 2019, empowering their development processes and commercial growth while enhancing our proposition to operators with smooth access to an ever- increasing range of content.

You have, as a company, clearly deployed a strategy of investing in talent, picking key hires with strong industry experience. How important is this to the Relax ethos?

“Attracting and retaining the best people for the job is central to the success of any company, and we have placed a great deal of focus on developing the right approach to recruitment to continue driving Relax Gaming forward. Leveraging our wide and growing network to bring in individuals aligned with our philosophy of efficient delivery, transparency and global reach is at the heart of our approach.

“Since the turn of the year, we have increased our staff numbers by more than 50 per cent, with more than 130 employees across our offices in Malta, Sweden, Estonia, Finland and Scotland. We added the invaluable experience of Simon Hammon to the team, who joined us as chief product officer from NetEnt, while Alexia Smilovic is arguably leading the field in compliance and regulation and joined to spearhead our push into new and existing regulated markets while taking on an advisory role for our Silver Bullet partners.

Andrew Crosby also joined from his position as head of casino at Mr Green to set up and lead the commercial team. His powerful business network has greatly empowered us and expedited our commercial growth, reach and position.

For years, developers have sought to differentiate their slots through blockbuster IP or characterisation, yet the real innovation is seemingly coming from new mechanics – players can’t enough of BTG’s Megaways or Red Tiger’s Smart Spins. What’s your take on that – how might it influence the Relax strategy?

“There is certainly something to be said for the draw-power of games based on famous films or established characters, but it is ultimately well-modelled gameplay and engaging bonus features which serve to enhance the experience while not diluting the core gameplay that will keep players coming back.

“Having recently unveiled our video slots portfolio with Erik the Red, followed by the launches of Zombie Circus and Epic Joker, we have constructed our games with clear and intuitive win potential in mind.

“We recognise the value that new mechanics can add, and this is a core part of our strategy. We create additional value for operators around our in-house titles and partner content via the powerful suite of promotional tools available through our platform, incorporating flexible free spins, feature trigger and a robust achievements functionality.

“Big Time Gaming undoubtedly added something extra to Relax Gaming’s appeal and we can’t argue with the fact it’s at the top of its game in terms of innovative mechanics.

“There’s always a balance, and our ethos has always been to offer the best in the market with competitive and transparent terms. We couple this with up-and-coming studios that aren’t playing the ‘me too’ game but rather thinking differently to deliver a new experience.

“The result is a very varied and appealing portfolio, which is growing exponentially.”