Ahead of Onlyplay’s participation at this week’s CasinoBeats Summit in Malta, we caught up with the games provider’s Business Development & Marketing Manager Anna Serheieva to talk about cats, crypto, UFC fighters, boxing techniques and the roles they play in the company’s offerings.
But before attention can turn to instant win games and slots, there is only one place to start when talking to a Ukrainian company – the impact of the Russian invasion on its team.
Speaking from Valencia, Serheieva said: “I and three of my colleagues had to relocate. We all are women and relocated to European countries.
“Our developers are still in Ukraine, along with our CBDO. He manages us remotely and says ‘we have to protect our country, but developers have to keep on working’. These are great guys and they have even created new games from bomb shelters, because that’s how we have to work now.”
One of those games is a newly-released Ukrainian-themed slot called Chervona Kalyna. The game is named after the Kalyna tree, which with its distinctive red berries is a national symbol of Ukraine, and also features a number of representations of the country’s culture from ancient times through to the present day.
Serheieva said: “Since the war in Ukraine began, providers have launched new Ukrainian-style games and the audience highly regards them. We have to use any opportunity to remind the world that Ukraine is under attack, and while the world is aware and people are concerned, the support for Ukraine grows globally. And players also become engaged. They play the game for entertainment, together with the feeling they support Ukrainians in such a way. It makes sense. By playing our games they support our business.“
Chervona Kalyna is just one example of the creative thinking of the Onlyplay team, who will showcase a range of instant win, slots and crash games titles in the Slot & Game Lounge at the CasinoBeats Summit.
The games are a result of what Serheieva describes as the company’s “focus on the future of the industry”, constant experimentation and willingness to integrate social gaming elements, as it searches for “something very special that no-one else has” to enhance the player experience.
“We strive to create something new, like our Lucky Punch boxing-themed multi-level game. The idea was totally developed by our company and it is full of gamification and social gaming features, as well as a progress save capability. Those features help players to feel that they are competing against other people as they play this gambling game, and operators get a game that anchors players in their casino,” she said.
“Even in a simple slot game, you can give players an experience other than just losing or winning. Our Royal Kitties slot is improved by gamification elements featuring funny cats. If a certain combination appears, the cat starts moving and drops something, which can turn into a bonus. It is a funny element from life, as we took a real cat’s behaviour and implemented it in the game to entertain players.”
Cats are something of a theme for Onlyplay, as the animated star of one of its hit crash games is also an entertaining feline.
“Limbo Cat features a funny cat driving a tank and collecting boxes, but who can crash at any moment,” Serheieva said. “We were focused on the Japanese market when we created it, but lately we have come to understand that the internet loves cats and that men all over the globe love games with tanks, so when we combine these factors in one game, it really performs.”
Not all the stars of Onlyplay’s games are quite as cute as kitties though. Its Lucky Punch title puts the player at the heart of boxing bouts and challenges them to work his or her way up from fringe contender to boxing legend. The game features unlimited levels, different opponents, huge bonuses and a realistic approach, a combination that has fired the imagination of more than one major operator.
“Our development team spent a lot of time watching UFC fights and boxing matches to understand how the fighters move and behave, and that research is why the animated characters are so realistic,” Serheieva said.
“We were very excited to be asked to create a special character in line with our partner’s idea, when Parimatch commissioned an exclusive edition of the game starring its brand ambassador.
“It was great for us to be able to do something extraordinary for a big company like Parimatch. The game works well for them and since it launched we have received several requests for similar branded editions of Lucky Punch, as well as enquiries from operators about whether we can modify the game for other sports to incorporate their brand ambassadors.”
As with all of Onlyplay’s games, Lucky Punch is crypto-friendly, something that its team believes is crucial to the company’s long-term success.
“One of our core ideas is to create games today for the players of tomorrow, and we know that the younger generation is interested in cryptocurrencies, they understand how crypto works and so it becomes natural to play using crypto money,” Serheieva said.
“The crypto industry is only going to grow and we expect to see the crypto casino segment expand and develop as the number of cryptocurrency users continues to rise. We can already see that growth in the numbers, and there are some crypto casinos that are comparable in size to established classic online casinos and even exceed them.”
How popular gambling games, and in particular fast games, are with crypto users was illustrated when Onlyplay launched its Lucky Clover instant win lottery title.
“The first edition of this game was implemented into a real crypto exchange and we got nearly two million bets in the first two days,” Serheieva recalled. “It’s a really simple game that offers the potential to win $1,180 from a $10 stake in just four steps, so it performs well for the crypto audience who are interested in winning big money quickly.”
So what does the immediate future hold for Onlyplay? The development team have more crash games and new instant win products in the pipeline, but for reasons beyond the company’s control, the sequence of games to be developed and launched next has to be adaptable.
“We had an exciting roadmap for this year, and we still believe we can do it ,” said Serheieva. “Now we have to be flexible in the situation that we are in and I can’t give you the exact numbers of how many crash games, instant win games or slots that we will launch this year, but we follow our aim to issue one or two games a month.
“We’ve had to change our priorities and, as our CBDO Artem Klymenko said, the first thing in our pipeline at the moment is to save the lives of our team-mates who are still in Ukraine. How actively they can code and create new games is the key consideration when we decide what game to develop next, so this year our roadmap has to be really flexible. Nevertheless we continue to operate and have ideas to be implemented in games in our exceptional manner.”
Organised by SBC, the CasinoBeats Summit 2022 conference and exhibition will take place on 24-26 May at the InterContinental in St Julian’s, Malta.
The summit features a conference agenda that focuses on igaming industry leadership, the next generation of slots and live casino games, emerging markets, the impact of wider technological developments on the gaming industry, and marketing strategies. Delegates will also have access to a programme of networking events and an exhibition featuring the latest innovations and games releases from leading suppliers.
Find full details, including how to book a pass, at the CasinoBeats Summit website.