Alex Cohen, COO and co-founder of Kalamba Games, was one of the panellists discussing the role of operators in product innovation at the recent CasinoBeats Summit in London. Following the panel we caught up with Cohen to delve deeper into the topic of collaboration between operators and suppliers.
CasinoBeats: How are operators currently assisting in the process of developing games? Is there any collaboration?
Alex Cohen: It’s the operators that know their players’ likes and dislikes best. Such a valuable first-line source of information has to be taken seriously if providers really want to improve their games, based on market data and feedback. It is therefore very important that the two parties work together in tandem to ensure we develop products that players want.
CB: What information/data do operators hold that suppliers don’t but that could be valuable for product development?
AC: Sometimes some extra information is helpful to understand player demographics and “macro” trends within a player base, such as aggregated information about player behaviour, especially around game performance, player trends and localisation. What players enjoy differs from market to market so naturally knowing your players and partners is an essential component in good game design.
CB: Where do aggregators sit in the feedback chain? Are game studios able to receive useful data if there is no direct relationship with the operator?
AC: We have our own analytics, so in some ways a game’s presence in the market is sufficient, but aggregators can share certain benchmark data such as average number of spins, some market data and, theoretically, certain engagement metrics which is obviously useful to the development team.
CB: How are suppliers like yourself and operators currently working with players directly and is this changing with the rise of streaming sites?
AC: There is an opportunity for suppliers to up our game in terms of helping to educate players about our games, and to help operators manage player life cycles better so content can work for both new players and experienced players.
Operators can, and do, give valuable insight into the combinations of game features that players like, observed trends in the player base and other areas such as lobby composition and performance.
In terms of streaming, we are currently looking at different options, and there are certainly opportunities to engage with players directly both from a – focused – promotional perspective but also to gain feedback and feed that information into the development cycle. For us though, the main aim of that activity is certainly not to diminish the role of the operator, more to enhance the game development process.
CB: Is the role of the operator becoming less important for suppliers with the rise of streamers?
AC: There’s clearly some expectation around how streamers can change conventional acquisition channels, and it’s certainly possible that certain segments (such as high rollers) could be more engaged in this way.
However, at volume, the levels of trust that operators have built up over many years suggests to me that players’ favourite brands will continue to be the first port of call for the foreseeable future. It is, of course, ever changing though so it’s definitely an area to consider.