What is your opinion on the growing trend of skill gaming and is it an area that Scientific Games is looking to capitalise on?
To my knowledge, we will be releasing a number of skill games very soon. We strive to produce products that are more interactive in order to meet the needs of existing players and attract new ones to our games. We hope these skill-based offerings will give us the opportunity to draw in a new player demographic. We are refurbishing a number of our current games, such as SKEE-BALL, with the aim of making them more skill-based in order to appeal to these new players.
The drastic advancements in technology have kept the industry fresh and excitingIn terms of the opportunities and the potential for innovation, would you say that the industry is as exciting in 2017 as it was when you began your career?
Many systems we had back in the 1970s – when I started my career in the industry – could only perform basic messaging, and social media had not yet been developed. In the last twelve to thirteen years there has been a complete technological overhaul. This has allowed us to create a wider portfolio of gaming systems, including table game systems, poker systems, and a bonusing suite with 10 different applications. Now we’ve also utilised big data solutions to accumulate information from services like Experian and TomTom in order to build valuable propositions for our players.
Mobile devices are also very popular gaming platforms now. We have so many more products now than we ever dreamed of having back in the year 2000, when we were providing primitive systems and marketing promotions. Now there is a greater expectation for us to implement the latest technology in our offerings. So the world has really changed dramatically for us in the last decade, and the drastic advancements in technology have kept the industry fresh and exciting.
What are the main challenges Scientific Games has faced in 2016 ones and do you expect to face the same issues in 2017?
The main challenge we now face is the rising expectation of our customers and the players themselves, in terms of keeping up with new technology the casino environment. Although we have made remarkable strides in our ability to keep up with ever-changing technology trends, we still have some way to go. When a new trend appears – whether it’s augmented reality, new smartphone capabilities, or cashless gaming – we evaluate its potential utilisation in the gaming industry. We are currently promoting virtual ticketing, where you can use a Smartphone to scan a QR code which transfers your ticket to your phone or credits to your mobile game. So the main challenge we have faced, and continue to face, is the continuous innovation of our products in order to stay up-to-date with modern technology.
How do you ensure that the company’s own game content is not overshadowed by eye-catching and established entertainment brands?
We produce a lot of generic titles that are usually very successful due to the games’ roadmap. We often recycle these roadmaps for the major brands, whether it’s a Michael Jackson, or Wonder Woman, or Willy Wonka. We also develop follow-on titles to keep these branded games fresh with new songs or animations. We also acquire generic products to enhance for ourselves; this is what we did with products such as our Clue, Yahtzee, and Monopoly games. The possibility of playing branded games excites our customers and works very well for us.
In terms of Scientific Games’ approach to different regulated markets, how important is localisation to the system side of the business?
It’s very important: our systems are very multi-lingual, and provide the translations for many of our games. This allows the player to play the games in a variety of languages that are most relevant to their location. The games team will often design titles with a certain market in mind; this was the case for Lands of Fortune, which was developed with the Chinese market in mind. We often consult representatives from these markets who give us feedback on local trends and customer expectations. The same method applies to the systems side of the business: there are totally different requirements for all our markets, and so we end up developing our systems with the target market in mind. Fortunately, Scientific Games is able to adapt to the regulatory and system requirements of these individual markets.