“If you want to come and ‘just give it a try’ you’re probably in for a very rough ride…” stated Bryan Upton, Founder of Lucksome.
In the second part of CasinoBeats’ roundtable looking into start-ups, we continue where we left off in part one, asking why certain approaches were taken in regards to game development, the pros and cons of innovation and is there further room for more start-ups in the current landscape?
Why did you take this approach and is it playing out as you expected?
Thomas Wendt, Co-Founder and Director of Apparat Gaming: The market is too dynamic for us to hope to change the world with the one brilliant idea – which we do have in mind, of course. We may have been naive in some places but never that naive!
But the market is dynamic enough for us to believe that with the German virtues of planning, quality, reliability, and perseverance, we can carve out our place in the industry in the way we have described. And yes, so far it is working.
Bryan Upton, Founder at Lucksome: Every game we make has improved performance over the previous so far. We are producing games faster with improved quality. We won’t take this for granted, this always changes but for one we haven’t released our most innovative content yet.
That is coming as we now have the capabilities and foundation to do it. Slow and steady wins the race.
Raphael Di Guisto, Founder at Silverback: Our approach is to always focus on the player and to deliver an experience that not only meets but exceeds their expectations. We play our games a lot and we also play other games, too. We believe in building games for players and delivering a unique experience for them to enjoy.
Online gaming is forever evolving but only by a small step at a time. For Silverback Gaming, it’s all about keeping the player in their comfort zone while giving them something a little bit different and unique every time. We’ve seen great results with this approach and the performance of our games speaks for itself.
What are the pros and cons of pursuing innovation at this stage? Is innovation key to getting games in operator game lobbies? Ultimately, how do you stand out as a new studio?
Thomas Wendt: As described. Innovation in step one needs a damn good crystal ball or damn deep pockets. In the end, the operators don’t want fortune tellers but quality. And getting into the game lobby is not the goal, it’s part of a journey. And that is where we are making progress. Faster would always be better, but every journey begins with the first step.
Bryan Upton: It is one way, yes. But also producing games that have a pedigree for performance also achieves this. Relationships with operators are extremely key. They have to believe in what we are doing as a studio in order for them to give us the space and chance to shine.
Raphael Di Guisto: Innovation is key to standing out and getting operators and players to take notice. But it certainly isn’t everything. We take great care when picking the themes and designing the art for our games, and we see this as being just as important as pushing the boundaries.
Also, too much innovation can take the player out of their comfort zone, which can have a negative impact on their enjoyment of the game. And if players don’t play your titles, operators will not stock them in their lobbies. Ultimately, it’s all about finding the right balance.
Is there room in the industry for more start-up studios?
Thomas Wendt: Of course, there is room for new ones. Why should what we claim for ourselves not apply to others? But it’s not the new that necessarily displaces the old, but the better that replaces the good.
We believe in that and that we will be part of the ‘better’! Otherwise, we wouldn’t have started.
Bryan Upton: There is always room for a good start up; smart people with well thought out ideas and the ability to continue to create those ideas. I think this is the case in all industries. But if you want to come and “just give it a try” you’re probably in for a very rough ride, so make sure you have a good and long runway to support you.
I think we have been seeing saturation for some time now and operators are becoming more and more picky about the content they take. You can’t guarantee a full network coverage release every game like in the old days.
The world has changed – and it’s not going back to that anytime soon.
Raphael Di Guisto: It is getting more crowded but with the US and other markets opening up, there is a need for more localised products. What’s more, M&A activity is certainly not showing any signs of slowing down so there is definitely room for more start-up studios to enter the fray.
Not all studios make it past the start-up phase, that’s for sure. At the end of the day, a studio lives or dies on the performance of its games.