12 May, 2023

Staying relevant: Jonny Bennet goes over a 'Realistic' strategy for casino suppliers

Jonny Bennet, Realistic Games COO, discusses how the company aims to stay relevant in a constantly evolving industry.

How has your strategy for developing products evolved over the years? How do you ensure game titles remain relevant and engaging for players?

Realistic was born in 2002 so has over 20 years of experience supplying content to operators, witnessing, and being a part of, multiple changes in the landscape during this time. Naturally, Realistic has had to adapt to prosper and realise new opportunities, and that is something we are still very cognizant of today, and how we look forward. More than ever, there is increasing complexity to navigate and more competition in the market to battle against, so we have to be on our A game all the time to give ourselves a chance to succeed.

Realistic’s first-ever game (Pentagram) was actually made for Video Lottery Terminals in Slovakia and Czech Republic – we’ve come a long way since then and now have a portfolio of over 150 online slots, table and instant win games available via our proprietary RGS platform. We have always tried to innovate and embrace new technologies, striking the right balance between market trends and new ideas. We were one of the first to market with HTML5 mobile games and have tried different technologies such as WebGL and 3D to bring different gameplay experiences to our players.

How do you think the slots/online games market will evolve overall in the future? Where will the latest innovation/development come from?

In any way shape or form, it will get bigger. There is already a plethora of content available but the reality is a lot of it is the same and innovation only comes from the few. That said, there are plenty of talented game designers and developers working at established game studios, which are taking a leap of faith in their own ability and starting to go their own way. This is bringing some fresh, new ideas which is helping bring overall quality up and new innovations to the market.

We’ve seen a lot of M&A activity from large B2B suppliers over recent years and increasingly they are looking to acquire smaller, independent studios who are demonstrably disrupting the market to protect their overall market share. Game design itself will be informed (and sometimes dictated) by regulation. New or updated responsible gambling measures, such as maximum staking values and minimum spin times on slots, affect the gameplay experience and all game studios will need to meet the challenge of increasing regulation to achieve or sustain growth.

In addition, the advancement of new technologies such as ChatGPT are very interesting and could potentially change the game development landscape completely. It is still early days but I have no doubt AI will play an increasing part in game design and development in the future.

We’ve seen a lot of M&A activity from large B2B suppliers over recent years and increasingly they are looking to acquire smaller, independent studios who are demonstrably disrupting the market to protect their overall market share

What are your plans for market expansion over the coming months/year? What are the key markets you’re looking to enter/expand your presence in?

Realistic will have a continued focus on the UK and European regulated markets, and we believe there is a lot of untapped opportunity for us as we expand across these territories. We are in the process of acquiring a Swedish Gambling Software Permit and additionally we will continue to supply operators in other jurisdictions through appropriate game and RNG certification.

We recently launched in Romania exclusively with Superbet for three months, following completion of a direct integration, and we have big plans for expansion across Maltese-licensed operators through upcoming integrations allowing us to better access that market. Plus, we have eyes on additional regulated markets, such as Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Greece, and hope to be able to announce further market expansion over the course of 2023.

For you, what is the key thing a player looks for when choosing what game title to play and gamble on?

There is so much player choice now that, in many respects, the decision can be a bit overwhelming for players. Most people don’t know what they want in everyday life let alone faced with a casino lobby of 1,000+ games! On one hand, I think players look for familiarity, but on the other they want something new and innovative. Ultimately, I think the player wants to experience ‘a bit of carrot’ in their first session. There has to be something in that first 50-100 spins which grabs the player’s attention and makes them want to explore the game a little more.

How do you see the rest of 2023 panning out for Realistic Games and what are your goals for the future?

We’re very excited about the remainder of 2023 and continuing the strong start we’ve had. Already this year, we’ve launched several well-received slot titles including Chilli Master, Keno Deluxe and Catch 22. We have an ambitious roadmap for the rest of the year, with the plan to release an additional four or five games before the end of the year, some of which have new innovations we’re very excited to put in front of our operators and their players.

Looking beyond 2023, we will look to continue what we’ve started over the past year and a half: deliver more diverse and relevant content, serving our operators and their players with compelling gameplay experiences and new innovations. Ultimately, our objective is to position and sustain Realistic as a market leader over the next couple of years.