Last month online casino content supplier Relax Gaming added another string to its bow, as it outlined plans to enter the realm of branded titles.

Aligning with world-famous ring announcers Michael “The Voice of Champions” Buffer and Bruce “The Voice of MMA” Buffer, Relax entered the sports of boxing and mixed martial arts to debut Let’s Get Ready to Rumble and It’s Time.

CasinoBeats caught up with Simon Hammon, Relax’s chief product officer, to delve into the finer details of the new games, including why now, in the midst of a blockbuster and branded title rise, was the perfect time to throw its hat into the ring: “There are certainly challenges involved in getting the best out of a game based on existing IP, both in terms of maximising the potential of the brand and any additional licensing spend,” he says.

“However, there is no denying the power that established brands wield when it comes to cutting through the noise, and the instant familiarity of the right brand can be leveraged effectively to appeal to players who are consistently bombarded with choice.

“While branded games are not the centrepiece of our content strategy, It’s Time and Let’s Get Ready to Rumble showcase Relax Gaming’s increasingly prominent standing in the igaming market, highlighting our intent and growth ambitions as we establish our own brand as a tier one slot and online casino supplier.

Launching engaging branded content only adds to the solid reputation that we are building”

“We have had a fantastic 2019 thus far, and we felt what better way to announce this to the market than partnering with arguably the biggest two announcer personalities in sport.”

However, simply aligning with iconic figures in hugely popular sports is merely one aspect of the paradigm, as Hammon went on to discuss what opportunities the firm believes such a title will bring, as opposed to a more traditional output: “From the beginning of our transition to the forefront of igaming entertainment, we’ve believed strongly that working with third-parties of all types should be done with a mindset of simplifying delivery, while offering a sense of transparency and fairness which is rooted in ongoing dialogue.

“We have the technology, quietly we have always had the reputation and now we’re focusing on delivering added value.

“As a relatively new entrant in the video slots market, it is no secret that establishing brand familiarity with players, and having the Relax Gaming brand resonate across regulated markets globally, requires exceptional content.

“We have delivered that quality across our initial launches, and launching engaging branded content only adds to the solid reputation that we are building.

“Our proposition is simple, clear and fair, and we are staying true to this with It’s Time and Let’s get Ready to Rumble by offering them to operators with no additional branded fees. Being a top supplier means offering top content, and doing so in a manner which adds value to our customers is important to us.

“Put simply, we envision that Relax will gain increased familiarity with the branded games amongst operators, players and the industry as a whole.”  

“We are keen to capitalise on the products’ potential for cross-sell between online casino and sportsbook”

Striving to capitalise of the global popularity and success of a sport seems a no brainer, but Hammon went on to discuss why Relax chose to approach and align with Bruce and Michael Buffer, as opposed to a past of present star of the ring or octagon: “You can certainly argue that Michael and Bruce are both. The pair are currently hugely active, with Michael still the exclusive ring announcer for high-profile fights, while Bruce remains the most recognisable voice in MMA.

“When searching for a brand, we looked for something that fundamentally resonates further and deeper than the brand in and of itself. The word iconic is bandied around all too frequently, but whilst you may or may not know who the Buffers are – most people have heard their iconic phrases including ‘Its Time’ and ‘Lets Get Ready to Rumble’.

“We want our approach to brands to go further than simply building a game around a film or TV property, offering something at once both unique and familiar. The brand complements our strength and position in the market, and in short was the perfect fit for Relax Gaming.”

Before adding whether the company believes interest in the two titles will span across sports and possibly beyond:  “The game has a natural appeal for fans of boxing and MMA, and we are keen to capitalise on the products’ potential for cross-sell between online casino and sportsbook. Furthermore, although it is principally famous within the sporting world, “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” has been used across a number of arenas and is recognisable within the wider public consciousness, and we have every confidence it will be a major draw for slots and sports fans alike.

Today a brand needs to do more”

“That being said, having a great brand does not in itself make for a great game. A brand which resonates with the player is merely the jumping off point around which great central mechanics and engaging gameplay can foster a platform that will keep players coming back on a consistent basis.”

Concluding, Hammon went on to address whether the company has any further plans to follow up these first entries in the near future: “We are always in the process of assessing new opportunities to strengthen our foothold in the video slots market, be that through in-house content or carefully curated branded games,” he commented.

“For Relax Gaming, it’s all about finding the right brand. It’s simple as a supplier to say that you have branded content, be that based around a film, television series or band. What we are looking to do is work with brands that we are truly passionate about, in order to better deliver an iconic experience and market statement for Relax Gaming.  

“The original rationale that brands draw players as an acquisition tool has been heavily watered down with the prevalence of so much new content available to operators. Today a brand needs to do more – and the principal rationale is that it must support your own brand identity first and foremost.”