The sharp ascent enjoyed across the aggregation scene has been clearly visible for all to see in recent times, but with this incline comes the inevitable question of are we reaching market saturation within this area?

This will be the overarching question debated on day one of next month’s SBC Summit Barcelona, where an array of avenues will be ventured down in dissecting the current aggregation scene, assessing where we go from here and everything in between.

In the first of a two-part pre-event special, Irina Sazonova, Head of Account Management for Casino at EveryMatrix, and Nicola Longmuir, CEO of AvatarUX, examine the rise of rise of the aggregator, as well as how this space works as a driver for innovation.

CasinoBeats: Aggregation has witnessed a boom in recent times with those that boast operations in this area increasingly growing in influence. What are the major potential pitfalls to this?

Irina Sazonova: It’s an interesting time, however the market is arguably more complex than ever for several reasons. In recent years we have witnessed a boost in aggregation business from different verticals, and this has been made more complex with certain B2C brands also opening proprietary B2B arms that often have their own product development and that have also launched their own aggregation.

Nevertheless, the market is still rapidly growing with new studios, new vendors and new markets opening up presenting new opportunities and innovation for EveryMatrix, the industry’s fastest growing B2B business.

In a rapidly changing industry choosing the right trusted partner that has many years of expertise in helping boost business is more essential than ever, and certain aggregators provide that missing element both in terms of immediate and sustainable long-term growth.

“From experience, one of the potential pitfalls is putting your trust in legacy operations who favour quantity over quality”

Irina Sazonova, Head of Account Management for Casino at EveryMatrix

One of the most important elements when choosing a trusted aggregation platform is scalability and technical capacity, the ability to react quickly and effectively when regulatory changes occur, alongside growing technical demands. 

From experience, one of the potential pitfalls is putting your trust in legacy operations who favour quantity over quality and who simply can’t provide operators with enough resources and commitment when it comes to legal, compliance or on-time technical support. It’s vital to audit performance and increase capacity to ensure a platform remains flexible to any changing environment.

There are many aggregation models, from pure content to full platform and everything in between. As an operator, making the correct choice for your current and future plans is paramount otherwise you could find your growth stymied by a lack of support in new markets, a lack of competitive features or a lack of competitive content aggregation.

How quickly can your aggregation partner or partners support new regulatory requirements, integrate new content or new gamification features? Some legacy aggregation systems and platforms, while incredibly complex, have become so ossified, with monolithic architectures, long approval chains and slow delivery rates compared to either more advanced or new, up and coming challengers. 

This can also mean operators are unable to tailor their processes or build additional functionality within these rigid ecosystems.

The last pitfall to mention is operational support and speed to react to queries, as well as offering clear information without needing to contact support teams. Rarely are operational costs and ease of use taken into account when operators choose aggregators and platforms, yet in many cases these end up causing friction points between supplier and client.

Nicola Longmuir: There has been a real need in the industry for scalable aggregators who can offer solutions to the growing number of studios in the gaming market and to service global operators who want to offer new and innovative content to their players.

“The key from a supplier perspective is focus and attention on their games and the best aggregation partners work in this way.”

Nicola Longmuir, CEO of AvatarUX

Ideally studios would integrate direct to operators to cut out the middleman and of course reduce costs but it’s not feasible for 300+ studios to integrate directly to individual operators due to resource and cost.  The aggregation model is invaluable for suppliers striving to get games to market and also for operators who can take multiple studios through one aggregator or selected aggregators. 

If commercially it’s reasonable and fair, aggregators offering great distribution, technical support as well as promotional tools and features are very attractive to studios. The number of aggregators in the market is increasing at a rapid rate and inevitably there is cross over in terms of markets and operators serviced.

As a supplier of content  you need to weigh up the opportunity of adding a new aggregator. You have to determine if you will add volume and new players and receive ROI for the work required to integrate and support new platforms. 

The other pitfall from a supplier perspective is that the increase in distribution of high volumes of content via aggregators to operators can lead to overall reduction in revenues to the games studios. It makes the market very competitive from a pricing perspective with margins going to the studios and to aggregators ultimately decreasing. 

Support once live can also be an issue – as a studio AvatarUX want to work collaboratively with aggregators to ensure that we get maximum exposure of our content. Often studios feel they are not represented once live and that content doesn’t reach the full potential of the distribution offered.

Aggregators should play a very important role in introducing partners to operators to ensure that their players’ needs are met. As a supplier I feel this sometimes falls short and can often be the case if an aggregator takes on too many partners and struggles to support everyone, especially if the aggregator also has their own content, which inevitably is always their focus. The key from a supplier perspective is focus and attention on their games and the best aggregation partners work in this way.

“Aggregators expose game providers to new types of players and markets which means they can adapt portfolios and game roadmaps”

Nicola Longmuir, CEO of AvatarUX

CB: Due to working alongside numerous studios of ranging sizes, how can aggregators help drive fresh concepts, ideas and innovations?

NL: Aggregators expose game providers to new types of players and markets which means they can adapt portfolios and game roadmaps to meet their needs. This drives innovation and new game mechanics. Players increasingly want entertaining and thrilling content with great math models and exciting themes.

Via the operators, exposure to these players, player trends and data allows innovation in the products offered. This is where aggregator focus and attention on supplier content comes into play.

Collaboration when approaching operators with new game ideas, looking at opportunities for exclusive and bespoke content spawns innovation and creativity.

IS: Working with multiple vendors and partners, and especially new studios, is a huge motivation to making improvements to existing products and/or developing new services. This is where an aggregator can really make a difference.

For example, collecting feeds and providing a unified view to all providers offered on the operator side. Gathering insights on what players are missing, how and what operators can benefit from and how to boost the performance of numerous studios no matter what size they are. This is the expertise and knowledge an aggregator can bring.

SBC Summit Barcelona banner

Sazonova and Longmuir will participate in a panel entitled ‘Debate: are aggregator reaching market saturation’ on Wednesday 20 September at 15:00-15:40. They will be joined by fellow panellists Alexandre Tomic, Founder and CEO of Alea, and Niall Thomas, CEO of Spinbet, with Consultant Liam Mulvaney on moderating duties.

SBC Summit Barcelona, taking place from September 19-21 at Fira de Barcelona Montjuïc, will bring together 15,000 delegates, offering them a platform to delve into the cutting-edge via a dedicated ‘Casino & iGaming Zone.’