Matt Cole, CEO of Blueprint Gaming, talks new products, new partners, and the innovations in the online gaming industry that will have the biggest impact
What innovations are you currently bringing to market?
There are two main areas for us here. On the game front, we have created an innovative bonus category of games seen in the likes of Genie Jackpot and Wish Upon a Jackpot, the latest iterations of that style being King Kong Cash and Ted. With every development of our bonus category we aim to take players on a journey, with a philosophy of always wanting to give players something new. As a rule we don’t create re-skins of games.
Another crucial area of innovation for us has been how we have developed jackpots. Approximately 40% of the new games we develop feed into Jackpot King, which is multiple games feeding into a three-tier pot system that has borne great results. It’s operator specific, so operators can use it to drive players to their own site, rather than a network pot which goes across a network of 40 or 50 operators.
Where do you hope the company to be in a year’s time?
In the online side we want to continue to cement our position in the UK market while growing internationally. We are targeting key markets in mainland Europe and looking to strengthen ourselves in bingo in the UK specifically.
Scandinavia is an area with an evolving regulatory landscape and a big priority area for us, while Italy will also be a target for us in the coming 12 months.
Having recently signed deals with Gamesys, LeoVegas and Kindred Group, how do you go about identifying the right kind of company to pen agreements with?
In our more mature domestic market we work with more or less every major player in this space, Gamesys being one of the last established operators we weren’t working with directly. Getting our latest content out there with them represents a big step forward, although we have previously supplied games to them in partnership with Pop Cap.
When it comes to new markets, we already know most of the operators we are not working with, and it’s just a case of gaining market traction and understanding which games in our portfolio fit the market best. Often we are live or signed with operators, but it is a case of building those relationships and helping them to get the most out of our content through an understanding of what works in their business. The market has changed – most operators have 20 to 40 suppliers live. The challenge is building your share of their business.
With many third-party branded titles in your library, how will you ensure that your own IP still stands out to players alongside established brands?
We have a good range of third party IP – Worms, Top Cat and Ted have all been great successes, and historically games like Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies really helped us to gain recognition.
I don’t really see a challenge sitting that alongside our own in-house IP. Blueprint is a developer with a style of games that is known to players, and our own in-house games, like Wish Upon a Jackpot, King Kong Cash and Genie Jackpot are three of the biggest games in the UK market at the moment and get a lot of recognition across operator’s online real-estate. I don’t see a huge challenge there given our existing prominence and pedigree, which is essential in a busy marketplace.
What is your view of how technological innovations like virtual and augmented reality can enhance your offering?
I think at the moment they’re definitely ones for the future. No one is commercialising those technologies in the short term, and it’s worth remembering that HTML5 is relatively new. We have been supplying games in HTML5 only for a little over 12 months. If you look at our latest releases, like King Kong Cash and Ted, they are some of the richest games in the market built in HTML5, and we have done a lot of work with that technology to ensure it delivers the right file sizes and load times for the optimal experience. It feels like VR and AR are a five year play, while backing HTML5 will be the important thing in the next five years.
What is your take on the potential market for games of skill? Is it one that Blueprint will look to become involved in?
It’s an interesting one. Our view would be that skill gaming has been introduced and regulated in Nevada in order to broaden an aging player base. The online market is a different proposition. We have a younger player base, with a lot of our players being under 30 who are used to playing skill games, but I think that they play skill games for a different reason. What we are looking at is interaction, which I think is distinct from the broader concept of skill. If you take our big bonus games there is loads of player interaction that builds user engagement, but it is yet to be proven that people want to have a skill element involved in winning money or not. We’re currently working with games that will engage and entertain rather than see players lose many based on their ability, taking players on a well defined journey rather than trying to invent entirely new verticals.