As CasinoBeats marches on towards the second staging of our Malta event in March 2020, Alex Cohen, COO and co-founder of Kalamba Games, has provided a delayed entry into last month’s CasinoBeats Summit Takeaways series.  

Innovation, innovation, innovation. It is a term that has been perpetually used by our industry over the last few years and that shows no sign of going out of fashion any time soon. And rightly so.

As an industry, we must keep innovating and make sure our products remain interesting to a new generation of players that is bringing new demands and expecting more. On top of that, the online casino market has become a hugely crowded and competitive marketplace, and to stand out in the crowd, innovation and differentiation is key.

But is the supplier solely responsible for developing the innovative elements of a game or could the operator, giving its player-facing position, do more to inform the slot development process?

We have found that sometimes what players really want is something familiar that they know and trust”

This was one of the main topics discussed on a panel I was invited to attend at the CasinoBeats Summit in London a few weeks ago, together with representatives from fellow casino games providers, aggregators and operators. 

Personally, I believe the online casino sector has lagged on innovation if compared to other verticals such as sports betting. I can definitely see benefits in all stakeholders working together to help evolve innovation in slots.

Suppliers hold player data that operators don’t and vice versa. Innovation is a lot about context and for an operator, it’s important to know what their customers want in terms of innovation. Suppliers are ready to help get operators what they need, but sometimes additional information is helpful to understand player demographics and “macro” trends within a player base.

This is information that operators have, especially when it comes to game performance, player trends and local knowledge of a market as localisation is becoming ever more important.

Player preferences differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and knowing your player is key. What a player wants in one market is not necessarily the same in another, and while some prefer advanced graphic video slots, others want more simple and classic games.  

Controversial as it might sound, I think it’s therefore also important to remember that innovation is not always the best approach. We have found that sometimes what players really want is something familiar that they know and trust, but with an exciting twist.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the industry will take innovation to the next level”

This means we don’t always have to reinvent the wheel but simply add a couple of new elements to a proven and successful game to ensure longevity and player retention. 

As the panel was moderated by Tobias Svensen, CEO of CasinoGrounds, an online casino streaming community, we also discussed the changing roles of affiliates and the increasing value that streamers offer as they sit between operators, suppliers and players.

This is an interesting emerging trend and a recurring topic at the CasinoBeats Summit as an increasing number of suppliers as well as some operators now use streamers to publicise games.  

I believe this is a useful development as it presents an opportunity for suppliers to up our game in terms of helping educate players about our content. By further increasing the synergy between operators and suppliers it will also enable us to help operators manage player life-cycles better so content can work for both new and experienced players.

Over the next 12 months, I’m looking forward to seeing how the industry will take innovation to the next level and how all stakeholders, suppliers, operators, affiliates and players, can work better together. I believe we have interesting times ahead and I’m excited about discussing this at next year’s summit in Barcelona over sangria and paella.

CasinoBeats Malta 2020 takes place at the InterContinental Malta, St George’s Bay, St Julian’s, on March 24-26 – learn more and buy tickets for the event here

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