How much has the recent increase in online gaming led to a stronger appetite for evolution's live casino games?
We are used to a growing demand for our games, but it’s been exceptional as the world accelerates its adoption of all things online. The growth is not just from a greater demand of online entertainment, though, as in the last 12 months, we launched 12 new games. We’ve seen customer growth and a constant and unwavering demand for our classics, such as roulette, blackjack and baccarat. We’ve also seen strong growth and success from our game shows, and have launched craps this year, which nobody else offers in a live format, and it’s been a great addition for our more serious players. So we have really added something for everyone in the last year.
Does this create a greater need for product innovation?
Having more players means we can justify doing new game types that other providers wouldn’t do. For example, if we do a game that only appeals to 5% of our players, then it’s easier to justify when 5% represents a much bigger number. This coming year we’re really pushing the boundaries on innovation and doing stuff that players will love, like a few strategy-type games that are different from anything we have done before. We’re diving into the world of virtual reality now that the Oculus and other VR headsets have become more popular, and we’re doing a lot of quiet innovation that players will see and feel but won’t necessarily be the big headlines people talk about.
Do you agree with the proposed uk regulation reducing game speed and does that, along with other regulations across europe, make product enhancement tougher, or are such regulations justified?
We have the slowest games in the industry, which is the nature of live casino. We average around 50 seconds per game and do just fine with this. Some slots are under two seconds per game, so the industry really runs the gamut. We are used to lots of regulatory changes and this is all part of possessing a privileged license to offer casino games. We need regulation in our industry and some of it helps achieve the objectives it desires, and other regulations have unintended consequences that have the opposite effect. I don’t think it’s fair to say any regulation is unjustified because each country or jurisdiction is unique, and they have to do what is right for their citizenry and we have to comply.
Evolution has seen big revenue rises in 2020. can we expect to see more in 2021, and how will the netent acquisition be a benefit?
As highlighted in our recent year-end report, we continue to see a positive increase in player numbers and engagement levels. Revenues amounted to €177.7m ($211.6m) in Q4 and as a result of our acquisition of NetEnt and Red Tiger, €17.8 million of the revenue is derived from NetEnt games.
We have now added top-performing online slots to our live casino product portfolio and will utilise NetEnt’s most iconic titles, blending NetEnt player favourites into the world of live casino to create a new wave of games that provide players with amazing new entertainment experiences. This approach has already paid dividends for NetEnt and Red Tiger, whose collaborations have resulted in massively successful slots.
As for trends in live casino, we’re doing a lot this year in the way of new games and features to support our massively growing baccarat business and we’ll continue to expand our range of game shows to appeal to an even broader spectrum of players. You might say a theme to watch in our upcoming roadmap is ‘player choice’. Most of the games today are ‘bet and watch’ games, but we’ll deviate from this a bit for 2021 and do some great stuff that gives players control, sort of in the way blackjack does.