Football and South America have long been synonymous with one another. With players such as Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Marta Vieira da Silva, Estefanía Banini, Pelé and Sergio Aguero all hailing from the region, you can understand why football is a big part of the culture.

With Evoplay continuing to make its mark across the continent, it wasn’t long before the supplier decided to launch a Latin American-themed football game. 

Penalty Shoot-out: Street, unveiled back in early July, aims to take players to the streets of Salvador as they attempt to score against the local goalkeeper on a street-side pitch. 

Vladimir Malakchi, Evoplay

Speaking to CasinoBeats at the recent iGB Live, Evoplay Chief Commercial Officer Vladimir Malakchi began: “The main aim of the game was to expand our portfolio. We understand that in Latin America, and in fact globally, there are a huge number of football fans that enjoy these types of games. So with  Penalty Shoot-out: Street, we want to cater to these types of players. 

“When testing out the game, we received really positive feedback from players – our operators, customers, streamers were all enjoying this game. We identified what areas needed improvement and to be tweaked accordingly. We found that the speed of the game was something that Latin American players preferred, so we adjusted the original Penalty Shoot-out to meet that demand.”

A LatAm twist

The game, he explained, builds upon Evoplay’s Penalty Shoot-out portfolio but this time, with a Brazilian flair. 

Something that was highlighted during the discussion is that it’s simply not enough to just launch a new version of the game and hope for the best. Instead, the new iteration of Penalty Shoot-out required a solid marketing strategy that inter-linked product and player optimisation.

Malakchi said: “You have probably already noticed that we always try to keep our strategy line very straight. We launched this game the first time around in 2021 with a plan to be aggressive in the marketing of these football games. 

“Building out this product line and adding new versions of Penalty Shoot-out to our portfolio is part of this marketing strategy. We don’t just want to shout about how great our games are on social media, the marketing strategy needs to showcase our product is working and how it is optimised for different audiences. 

“It’s like having a great series of films – when you have a strong product and it’s marketed well, the end customer looks forward to the new version coming out.” 

Adding a new twist, plus additional gamification features to the Penalty Shoot-out series, is a key strategy for Evoplay as it means that players are constantly provided with fresh content, ultimately keeping them ‘on their toes’.

He added: “I don’t like the idea of having one game, hoping it will become a bestseller, and then leaving it to sit on the shelf. Eventually, it will become less popular with players – we don’t want that for our games. 

“We want to be constantly bettering ourselves and our games, so that players always have something new and enjoyable to bet on. And so far, that’s going really well for us.” 

Finding the right time

As we find ourselves in a bit of a lull when it comes to the men’s football calendar, it could be said that many fans are looking for new ways to enjoy the sport. 

So it should come as no surprise that Penalty Shoot-out: Street has been designed in a way to appeal to that demographic of traditional football fans. But did the downtime in live football play a role in why Evoplay chose to launch this title now? 

In Malakchi’s view, there is no ‘right or wrong time’ to launch a game, but rather a time to test out what works best and what can be improved. “I don’t believe there was one singular ‘right time’ to launch this. The right time is when you decide to launch, and until you try, you won’t know,” he continued:

“The key difference between this version of Penalty Shoot-out and previous iterations is that this is much more orientated towards Latin America. The side games feature a lot of street football which is very popular with players. We found this out by launching and then trialling what works.

“We feel that this version is much more oriented towards players that enjoy traditional football games – it brings a sense of nostalgia, similar to the football games people would play when they were younger. 

“The mechanics within the game are much quicker than previous versions of Penalty Shoot-out. Technology has improved a lot since we first launched Penalty Shoot-out, and at Evoplay, we’re growing our own technology stacks even further, so the game is much more optimised. 

“I think this game will prove to be really popular across Latin America, and even more so in Brazil.”

So far, the title has been “very well received” among the exclusive group of operators with which it was launched, with a number drawing attention to the retention capabilities of the game. 

This, the Evoplay CCO added, is particularly important given the rising player acquisition costs and increasingly competitive gaming market.

Malakchi said: “We initially launched this game with an exclusive set of operators just to test the waters and see how it would be received by players. We’ve had some fantastic results, especially when it comes to player retention. This is very important to us. 

“We know how to engage our player bases, but we also want to make sure they keep coming back; this is an area where there is always room for improvement.

“Penalty Shoot-Out Street has been shown to increase retention by more than 20 per cent, which is absolutely fantastic! Right now, we’re in the stage of monitoring results and gathering feedback from players. From there, we will see what is working well and where we need to improve.”

What does the future hold?

Despite only launching Penalty Shoot-out Street a few weeks back, Evoplay already has big plans to add more features to its portfolio with new gamification features and marketing campaigns. 

This will ultimately elevate the gameplay experience and, according to Malakchi, will keep players coming back for more.

“The first launched on 15 July and will be rolled out with a group of operators for testing. And then in Q4, we are planning to launch a new campaign based on this gamification feature,” he concluded.

“There is so much in the pipeline for us when it comes to gamification features that will be added to our games. Our main strategy is to launch these new features and carry out lots of new and exciting marketing campaigns alongside our operator partners. Ultimately, we want to give our partners something that they will enjoy.”