Paul Malt, head of games at Betsson Group, talks about how the operator ensures the content offered across its roster of brands meets the exact needs of players in each market it is active.
One of the greatest challenges faced by international online casino operators is ensuring that the games offered to players in each of the markets they are active meets their preferences.
Player preferences change quite drastically from market to market, and operators need to be aware of these differences and ensure it is reflected in the content stocked in their portfolios.
As an international operator with brands aimed at players in a wide range of markets, we spend a great deal of time curating the game lobbies at each of our casinos.
To make sure we stock the right content, we combine our experience and understanding of individual markets with research and the large volumes of data we generate.
Below, I discuss in more detail some of the key factors we take into account when building out our game lobbies in each of the markets we operate in.
Land-based gaming preferences are a great guide
In almost all regulated markets, land-based gaming exists prior to online and that acts as a great guide for the content that players will want to engage with when playing online.
This is certainly the case in markets such as Latin America and Georgia, where players want to see the same providers and games online as they do in the land-based space.
Take Georgia, for example. EGT is one of the most popular land-based providers, so for our Georgia-facing brand, Europebet, we stock the developer’s full suite of online slots.
These games are online versions of the land-based slot, providing the familiarity and trust that players are seeking especially when they are playing online for the first time.
Consideration must also be given to the types of games offered.
Players in the Nordics, for example, prefer simpler games when it comes to bonus features but expect an exceptionally high production value.
In Spain, land-based bingo is huge so must be offered online.
In the UK, where online casino is well established and the market mature, player preferences still relate back to land-based gambling and in particular the fruit machines found in pubs and arcades.
Traditionally, these land-based games are incredibly complex which is why online casino players in the UK tend to favour feature-rich slots with multiple bonus games.
Learn from the data
Online casino operators generate huge volumes of data on a daily basis, and within this data there are plenty of indicators as to player preferences in each market.
We combine this data with insight and intel from our country and regional managers, who as part of their role are responsible for identifying and monitoring trends in their market.
This enables us not only to determine which games we take from which developers and for which markets, but it also allows us to create our own bespoke content.
For a number of years now, we have been using our market insights, experience and data to work with a small number of studios to create specific games for specific markets.
It can be trial and error
Despite our extensive experience and huge volumes of data, there is no guarantee that games – whether those from a third-party or our own content – will perform as expected.
To that end, it is still a case of trial and error when it comes to fine-tuning a localised casino game lobby. Players are always willing to try a new game, but they won’t always return to it.
We can usually tell within the first week or two whether a game will be a longer-term performer, but we always give new titles a fair shot as sometimes they can perform much better than expected.
We have a dedicated new games page at all of our casino brands, and games are listed there for a minimum of 30 days. During this time, our gaming content optimisation manager monitors each title.
By using the data available, as well as a range of heat maps, they can see clearly how each title performs and can then adjust their placing in the other game lobbies accordingly.
But ultimately, we let our players decide whether games are right for them or not.
For Betsson, the combination of experience, data, collaboration with studios and ultimately trial and error has proved to be a successful formula when it comes to localising our game lobbies.
But another factor we are now having to consider is regulation and ensuring that the games we offer not only meet player needs but do so compliantly.
This is a new challenge that we, as well as game developers, are facing and embracing and ultimately makes our job that little more challenging but when we get it right, so much more rewarding.