From outlining exactly why the UK market provides slot developers with the learning curve they need, to growing in Canada alongside Loto-Québec, it has been a busy period of late for Live5.
This is true, of course, for many organisations that occupy a space in the igaming ecosystem, amid the current health crisis and ever-changing player preferences and localisation demands etc.
However, how has the industry evolved over the years? What has been the most significant development? And where do we go from here?
CasinoBeats spoke to Roger Withers, chairperson at Live5, who boasts a successful track record across numerous organisations, such as Playtech, Sportech, Inspired Entertainment and SafeCharge, to get the answers.
CasinoBeats: How would you assess the current position of Live 5? What have the main challenges been during the first few years of business?
Roger Withers: Live 5 has built a reputation for innovative content which is much in demand with the tech-savvy player of today. We have seen our product taken by many new tier one operators including those in new regions for us, such as Canada and Italy.
Our main challenge has been recruiting the quality people we need but I am pleased to say we now have a great team of enthusiastic and talented developers, testers, artists and mathematicians.
Of course, our ever more complex products do require more research time and actually playing content from other providers and in other markets.
“My involvement in online started in 1999 but that was a world apart from the mobile-centric product of today”
Inevitably, a small business like ours has to measure its growth and need for capital. Fortunately, we have a team of directors who have invested their time and money in putting us in the right place to continue our march forward.
Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has hurt. Some of our client projects have been put on hold and we have needed to furlough some of our people whilst others have worked very successfully from home.
However, the online side of Live 5 has continued to develop and our distribution grows daily. Whilst the virus will be with us for some while yet, we see old and new clients seeking more and more innovative products and content as they emerge from full and partial shutdowns.
CB: You boast a long and successful track record in the industry, how has it evolved?
RW: My experience has been long and varied for sure. Some 47 years as of now and covering the whole gamut of gaming and gambling; betting, pools, casinos, lotteries, pinball and slots, and in retail, B2B, B2C and globally with roles in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australia, US, Canada and Japan.
Career name checks include Ladbrokes (where I started in the industry in 1973), Bass, Barcrest, Coral, Scientific Games, Playtech, SafeCharge (as I branched off into payment processing), Inspired and now Live 5. I was lucky enough to work with some of the industry’s visionaries including Cyril Stein, Peter Sherlock, Trevor Hemmings and Teddy Sagi.
My involvement in online started in 1999 but that was a world apart from the mobile-centric product of today.
Back then, our products were essentially physical and governed by a multitude of retail-oriented rules and regulations. Today, we are more global in outlook and we recognise that technology knows no physical boundaries. That doesn’t make it any easier, of course.
“Our watchwords must be innovation, quality, a good pipeline of ideas and games, and keeping promises”
CB: What would you say the biggest, and most significant, change in game development has been?
RW: Content today must be on trend and innovative to stand out from the crowd. We need exciting new mechanics such as Infinity Reels, which we recently licensed from Reel Play, to give Live 5 an advantage over our fiercely competitive rivals.
Licensing of brilliant new ideas from wherever will be a key component to our and every other content providers’ catalogue.
We also recognise that we must achieve widespread distribution, which we are starting see via our world-class distribution partner SG Digital. The contribution from our clients and partners into our thinking and development processes is also key.
CB: How would you say player preferences are changing in the here and now?
RW: Not my field of expertise! Over the years whenever I have said a game or product would be good, it wasn’t, so I will leave discerning players’ preferences to others.
What I would say, however, is that the production value of a game is more important now than ever before. Players expect cinematic levels of animations, graphics and sound, and the gameplay must compete with other highly engaging entertainment forms.
CB: What does the year ahead, and beyond, have in store for Live 5 and the wider industry?
RW: Our watchwords must be innovation, quality, a good pipeline of ideas and games, and keeping promises. If we do those things well, and we will, we will succeed, and we will raise the bar as we go and set the standard for others to follow.
The industry itself will go through more consolidation as scale and depth will be essential. We very much look forward to being part of that growing industry as we continue to develop and launch chart-topping slots across both retail and online.