Earlier this month Design Works Gaming lauded a milestone development for the firm, as a green-light was secured from the UK Gambling Commission for entry into a market long been mooted as key to European aspirations.
Outlining its ambitions to CasinoBeats in March, DWG is aiming to hit the ground running as the company looks to gain serious traction on this side of the Atlantic.
We have been speaking to Andy Harris, UK CEO of the Arizona-headquartered DWG, to dissect UK entry, look further afield into other European jurisdictions and discuss the influence of player preferences and local market knowledge.
CB: You hailed the UK licence as a ‘very important milestone’ – how key was this to achieving the European ambitions outlined earlier this year; and what opportunities does the market present for DWG?
AH: Quite simply, absolutely key! In the first instance, the licence allows us access to the UK, which is important to us. We are familiar with the environment, have great contacts, know the operators and aggregators well, and it’s the biggest market in Europe, so it’s a logical starting point for us.
In addition, the GBGC licence also facilitates access to a number of other markets. For example, it is a relatively simple process to utilise our UK licence to offer our content to Malta licensed operators, many of whom have a strong presence in key European markets. Europe is particularly relevant and important to DWG because of the familiarity and track record of our European land-based games.
Over a period of 15 years, we have produced a large number of successful titles for big manufacturers like Novomatic, IGT and SG. A lot of our games, such as Hold Your Horses, Bear Tracks, Armadillo Artie and Panda Queen, are very well-known among European RMG operators. However, as they were produced under the name of these large suppliers, it is not widely appreciated that we created them.
CB: How will past experience enable yourself to succeed after taking a first step into online real-money gaming?
We are in a great position – we have a UK team with exceptional expertise and experience in the RMG space, going back decades, and a US team who have been producing market leading content for land-based and social gaming since 2005.
Our experience combined with the creation of many top games that have already been validated by millions of players around the world in other gaming verticals means that we can bring only the very best performing games to RMG. This ‘de-risking’ puts us in a privileged position and makes our portfolio very appealing to operators. We are confident that our games will succeed.
We will continue to use our social operations as a testing ground for our games to ensure that only the very best content makes it into our RMG portfolio. We have also used our experience of operating five social casinos to build a standalone promotional tools module for RMG.
These tools are key to the success of our social casinos and we feel the same will be true in real money gaming. They deliver customisable and flexible incentives and rewards designed to appeal to all players.
Related to the first question, earlier this year you stated to CasinoBeats ” The UK is only one of the markets where we want to focus” – which other European jurisdictions are on the DWG radar and why?
AH: Our plan for market entry into other territories will be demand-led, essentially. Many of our initial clients also have successful operations in other European markets, we expect they will want us to roll out games in those markets too. We anticipate we will be looking at the possibility of entry into jurisdictions such as Spain, Sweden, Denmark, and Italy. We will also consider entry into other regulating European markets.
Local knowledge of a market and localisation are becoming increasingly important, how will player preferences from jurisdiction to jurisdiction influence the DWG roadmap?
AH: Player preferences from jurisdiction to jurisdiction is a hugely important factor in determining our roadmap. We have already utilised the data we have from our social and land-based operations to tailor game packages for key territories around Europe and the rest of the world.
This will allow operators to promote the games that have performed well for us in those strongly related gaming verticals. We very much expect them to see the same results.
This data has also allowed us to learn from market preferences and nuances, to build relevant content on a jurisdiction by jurisdiction basis.
Also, once our games are more broadly available in a wider range of RMG markets, we will utilise any insight we can gain from this to continue to produce jurisdiction tailored content.
CB: How do UK consumers differ from those in the US, where you have a long-track record?
AH: They are different and the same! We see traditional Las Vegas style games being popular in the UK – for example, our stepper games (traditional mechanical reel strips) have a lot of commonality with UK reel-based machines that have been hugely popular in destinations around the UK for decades.
We do see variance in what different player groups prefer in terms of key elements of a game, such as volatility, themes, front end presentation, features, etc. Of course, we build these learnings into our game production.