BetGames released its first crash game with the launch of Skyward last month. While the rise in popularity of the genre is aligned to simple yet rewarding gameplay, BetGames has been impressed with the game’s initial reception as it looks to stand out in a crowded air space.
In conversation with CasinoBeats, Ian Catchick, Chief Product and Business Development Officer, discusses his thoughts on the crash games scene, as well as the nuances that will separate Skyward from the rest of the competition going forward.
CasinoBeats: BetGames recently launched its first-ever crash game with Skyward. Why has now been the right time for BetGames to make its crash game debut to add to its portfolio?
Ian Catchick: Skyward is our first crash game and with it, we focused on understanding the market and providing the right overall portfolio mix to meet the needs of our customers. While we’ve certainly been extremely busy over the last few weeks, it’s not been a short process.
Throughout the last couple of years, we’ve launched several new titles as a way of overhauling our entire product offering to get to the point we are now.
That mix of innovation in areas like our game shows and Twain Sports has allowed us to introduce a lot more in terms of dealing with and providing high-frequency world class content that’s appealing to our player base.
We launched a brand-new category with our instant games and Skyward as a crash game fits nicely in terms of concept to provide a very good overlap with the rest of the titles already on display.
Ultimately, we wanted to watch the market, understand the likes and dislikes of players and then once we had a chance to evaluate what’s going on in the world of crash, we could build a game that is fresh and appealing, incorporating a modern set of graphics and most importantly, is reliable.
Making a game that is stable and highly responsive means players can rely on it, especially when we’ve seen this is an area that has attracted a level of dissatisfaction from some.
Skyward overlaps with our newly created instant vertical which we’ve worked hard on over the last year, and that aligns with the trends of our existing player portfolio.
It’s not just a game that can be positioned in our live casino lobby, but one that can work in other parts of the site, making it a cost-effective acquisition tool for partners, while helping to convert and bridge that gap between sports and gaming for our players that enjoy high-frequency, entertaining gameplay.
CB: What sets Skyward apart from other crash games and why should European players choose this over many other competing products in the market?
IC: There are a lot of different things to consider when looking at what sets Skyward apart as we focused on a range of different areas, but there are probably three big ones to consider.
It might come across as boring but as well as offering all the features you’d expect of a high-quality crash game, we’ve paid particular attention to stability and reliability. The game itself is high-frequency, and addressing some initial instability we found in some games allowed us to understand how we could build the solution to be responsive, reliable and engaging.
On top of optimising the game’s performance, there was a lot of time spent on the graphics. We have some solid market-leading displays for our network game, but we also look at ways in which we can make it relevant to players in various jurisdictions and offer bespoke game animation.
We can create games with bespoke backgrounds – not just a little bit of branding – but a really localised background and a concept that will appeal to players in a particular area for those brands.
Our responsiveness also goes a long way in setting us apart. We believe Skyward is one of the fastest crash games in the market, and when you combine its reliability with great graphics and that it caters to the needs of operators looking for branded games, you get something that your players love. It’s been an encouraging start so far, going off our data.
CB: The popularity of the crash game is well documented, what do you believe are the key factors contributing to the appeal of the genre? And is it indicative of wider trends?
IC: Several factors contribute to having a real crack at a successful crash game. Some things that spring to mind are simplicity, reliability, frequency and creating something quite compelling when it comes to player experience. Of course, the chance to win big is also a key factor to the game concept.
Our attempt focuses on making this game simple to play, easy to understand, reliable and fast. This means we need to adapt to the needs of players who are looking for shorter periods to be able to engage. Our player data shows they enjoy those short, sharp bursts of gaming entertainment, which seems to be a trend that’s particularly prominent with recreational players.
It’s also the latter demographic that isn’t always as well rewarded as they should be, so incorporating a bonus scheme that addressed that issue was at the forefront. These players aren’t necessarily bonus abusers, but are those who just want to have a great time and make a few riskier bets once in a while – perhaps not in terms of large stakes but bravery in terms of Skyward gameplay and how high they’re willing to let the plane fly.
For me, it’s about providing something that allows time-poor consumers, a chance to have a fun, engaging experience with something very simple, easy to understand and something they can access easily due to its responsiveness, whilst providing opportunities to create lifestyle changing wins.
CB: Is there a plan in place for you to keep players engaged with Skyward in the long term?
IC: We’ve got a great game here with Skyward. We expect that momentum will build as we have an exciting road map developing. I think throughout the last two years we’ve transformed BetGames’ position as a business and a big part of that is assembling a road map with a few nice surprises to come to keep the game fresh and relevant.
We’re focusing not only on look and feel but also some of the back-end customer development tools and player tools too.
Skyward fits perfectly into the sort of place where we look at our player base, in particular recreational sports customers, and how we can convert them to become gaming players too. You can play for short bursts of time, and we can suit their demands and changing needs, as part of the wider and growing BetGames portfolio.
We’re always watching, learning, reviewing player behaviour and so we’ve a very clear roadmap ahead. It’s got plenty of exciting options, not only crash games, we’ve launched lots of live games and instant games and there are a few more interesting areas in the portfolio that we’re going to be developing next year, but we’re also leaving that all-important time for analysis and research that allows us to adapt and change within our road map.
CB: Do you see your status as a supplier to tier-one partners as a major factor in acquiring and retaining players?
IC: As mentioned, we’ve got a wide portfolio of games that all suit different needs and different ranges of player types. This means we’ve got so much top-tier content now that serves global operators in that category.
We know that there isn’t just a one-size-fits-all approach typically to games, so we have time to analyse and react so we can adapt and move quickly. Trends constantly change but I think with our range of games and with the number of options that appeal to different player types, with the ability to position our games in different places, we’ve got a great opportunity here.
We have games that suit the needs of recreational players and we’re seeing that come through from our tier-one operators and partners whose players are enjoying the games and the data itself has certainly looked interesting after the first few days of Skyward’s launch.