A little over three weeks after promising a key strategic link-up with “an iconic American brand,” KamaGames aligned with Hard Rock International as the firm eyed a timely expansion within the social casino space.

‘Hard Rock Blackjack’ encompasses casino table games such as roulette, craps, baccarat as well as the core title, with a consistently heightened level of quality within the vertical lauded by HRI as the firm emphasises that the ability to utilise a globally recognised and trusted brand is a crucial USP.

When Andrey Kuznetsov, KamaGames CEO, last spoke to CasinoBeats almost one month ago a number of partnerships were teased. He said of the first of those: “It has been a long road from the beginning of this process to where we are now and we are most definitely proud to call ourselves a Hard Rock partner.

“For us, this app means not only access to a significant, loyal target audience but also a challenge to outperform in terms of both our players’ and our partner’s expectations.

“KamaGames’ current success was built around our reputation as a developer and self-publisher of our own games and this is still where the vast majority of our revenue originates from. What this means is that we have in-depth experience when it comes to the challenges and nuances of publishing a product such as this one, and therefore our ability to create a successful app in this genre is unparalleled.

“We are certain that by introducing the Hard Rock audience to such a high-quality social 3D blackjack alongside a vast portfolio of social casino games, it will result in a positive experience for players, creating further engagement and generating more loyalty to the brand.

“Social casino has been a core part of our business since the beginning”

“Providing an alternative, yet high-quality, casino-style experience is especially important as of late as many brick-and-mortar casino brands are suffering under the strain of the recent coronavirus pandemic and the limitations it has posed to their players.”

Before Kresimir Spajic, Hard Rock’s SVP of online gaming, commented on the company’s growth in the market: “Hard Rock has been focused on building and expanding its free-2-play online gaming business that allows us to address the existing Hard Rock guest community while bringing new fans into the fold. 

“We operate some of the most popular casino locations in North America, with everything from the newly opened Hard Rock Sacramento at Fire Mountain to the recently opened expansion at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood with the world’s first guitar hotel. 

“Social casino has been a core part of our business since the beginning of our involvement in the free-2-play industry. It serves as a very compelling extension of the Hard Rock bricks & mortar casino marketing & loyalty programs and will continue to do so as a means of 360-degree engagement with Hard Rock fans. 

“By extending the Hard Rock brand into the social casino space, we’re also expanding the ability for Hard Rock to reach new guests to introduce a vast portfolio of real-world experiences not just casinos, but also hotels, cafes and live concert venues around the world.

It’s not hard to understand why so many players enjoy social casino games on a regular basis”

“Following Hard Rock’s initial success with a slots-focused Hard Rock social casino title, we saw an opportunity to give global Hard Rock fans an incremental social casino product focused on table games, especially blackjack & multiplayer poker. When we looked at the space, KamaGames was the clear market leader in both the performance and the quality of games offered. The fact that their product was available in 28 languages made it even more compelling for the Hard Rock brand, as it matches the global distribution of Hard Rock cafes, hotels and casinos in 75 countries.”

The link-up comes as social casino continues to take huge strides in various global markets, and follows KamaGames itself demonstrating “exceptional” growth. 

When publishing its latest financial report the company saw revenue risw 18.3 per cent from $76.4m to $90.4m, with the social mobile poker operator said to have switched attention to the year ahead and securing a larger chunk of the global market share.

Addressing thoughts behind the growth of the vertical worldwide, Spajic commented: “It’s not hard to understand why so many players enjoy social casino games on a regular basis; the top games in the genre are of increasingly high quality and they provide a free, no-risk way of enjoying similar entertainment that one gets from a real casino experience. 

“However, it would appear that much of the recent growth in social casino has been from game operators finding increasingly effective ways to monetize existing players rather than by expanding the addressable social casino playing population. Depending on your frame of reference, the space is about eight years old and seems to have hit a point where adding in more players has become much more difficult under the efforts of the current competitors in the space. 

Blackjack is one of the most popular titles with the Hard Rock audience”

“That’s one of the reasons Hard Rock will continue to see success in the genre; players around the world recognize and trust the Hard Rock brand, which will encourage players who might not have otherwise tried a social casino game to give the genre a try through our products.”

With Kuznetsov developing on the aforementioned statement to explain how both parties have been working in collaboration to ensure that Hard Rock Blackjack stands out from the crowd: “For our part, KamaGames analysed Hard Rock’s existing audience, taking a close look at their characteristics and preferences to ensure we created the right product for their needs.

“Comparing this to the data we collect for all of our games, we decided that blackjack would be the most beneficial title to take centre stage within the app. Blackjack is one of the most popular titles with the Hard Rock audience as it is more casual than titles such as poker and in our experience, holds the second-best day 1 retention rates across our entire portfolio.

“Following that decision, the remaining games in the Hard Rock Blackjack portfolio were added in accordance with how much value we felt they would provide players.”

Before adding on how the partnership is to develop moving forward: “In terms of the product itself, we have either already planned or are currently planning several upcoming features for Hard Rock players to engage with. This includes new tournaments, quests, events and promotions. We are also in the midst of constructing several new video poker and slot machines which we can guarantee will be a hit with players. One of our upcoming updates will include the addition of some superb Hard Rock branded content that will include unique Hard Rock customised gifts, avatars, tournaments, and sweepstakes.

Layering the Hard Rock brand into the offering creates a very strong value proposition and is a differentiator”

“In terms of players, our core mission is always to bring as many new players into the app as possible. This means we will be measuring the efficiency of our various different marketing channels quite closely and adjusting our campaigns and events according to how players respond.”

A point also picked up on by Spajic as he concluded by discussion uniqueness and leveraging a globally recognised brand: “Having a high-quality, premium player experience is a fantastic first step, and that’s what players can expect from the Hard Rock Blackjack game. Layering the Hard Rock brand into the offering creates a very strong value proposition and is a differentiator in an incredibly competitive marketplace. Hard Rock is a globally recognised and trusted brand, which will help with player acquisition and will improve key performance indicators of the product based on what Hard Rock has seen in other free-2-play games. 

“In addition, with 250+ venues in 75+ countries, the Hard Rock Blackjack game will offer a tie back to real-world entertainment offerings that no other game can match under a single brand. Hard Rock hosts over 35,000 live music events and 120 million unique guest experiences each year, which creates countless opportunities for fans of Hard Rock free-2-play games to extend their engagement with the brand into their everyday lives.”