19 May, 2021

In Reel Time

David Johnson, recently appointed CEO of digital gaming content creator ReelPlay, speaks about how the sector is developing in light of the company back story and recent adjustments due to the pandemic.

Can you give us some insight into the state of play in the online casino market considering how influential and disruptive the last year has been?

From a human perspective, ReelPlay have been fortunate to remain healthy as a group while making the transition to home working with minimal disruption. The business has performed very well at the same time. As an infant studio in an ultra competitive landscape, we knew we had to grow up quickly. We managed to exceed our expectations by some margin, which can be attributed to a number of crucial factors including premium content, operator relationships, working partnerships with premium distribution partners, and heightened player demand despite Covid.

ReelPlay games are devised and created by our team in sunny Sydney, NSW, which is where Infinity Reels and Buster Hammer were born. We have a quality over quantity approach, a flavourful craft beer instead of some tasteless fizz, so to speak. We also have tight relationships with many third-party studios who benefit from our expertise in terms of bringing their own creations to market. It’s a significant output from a relatively small team working across studios, aggregators, jurisdictions all while innovating for ReelPlay badged games.

The unique year we’ve had has seen players globally spend more time on their devices. The lack of sports betting opportunities has seen increased casino play, but with a market in a relative boom, players still want quality, repeat play slots games to enjoy and we are one of the content-first focussed studios to provide that.


Has technology kept up with demand as more consumers have gone online to gamble?

In a word, yes. Operator platforms should have no issues catering to the growing number of players with sufficient technology to scale to a huge number of concurrent bets. I’m old fashioned in that I like to sit and play with a fixed screen in front of me, but with the majority of players now playing on the move, modern handsets are packed with more technology than ever to provide a rounded entertainment experience from a small screen. I’d argue that while online can’t provide the physical land-based experience, whether it’s the buzz of the floor or an exciting cabinet to house the game, online games have largely overtaken their land-based counterparts in terms of production values and certainly in gameplay innovation. It shouldn’t be a surprise when you consider the deployment constraints of the physical versus the speed of change permitted virtually online. 


How is the market trending now as land-based casinos start to open again?

I don’t see the trend to online diminishing, but I would expect with global sports back underway some of the additional traffic that casinos have enjoyed will revert. We’re fortunate we can deploy our content to new markets and operators at a steady frequency to complement our position across regulated Europe. And following on from a successful New Jersey launch, our games are now rolling out to operators in Michigan, with Pennsylvania next up. Further territories will follow as legislation permits.


Can you describe how you're settling into the CEO position and how it has provided a new perspective on company growth opportunities, agility and strategies to remain competitive?

There’s any number of things you think you’d do if you had your own business. Then you find when it comes to it and you have that opportunity, they’re not always practical. I’d love a business with broad areas of responsibility instead of formal job titles for example. But here we are and I’m a CEO in a business that we’ve successfully and deliberately scaled without ego, and it’s a pleasure to play my role in that.

Our growth will continue to be underpinned by the creation and licensing of quality and infinitely playable content to an expanding operator base. We work closely with many of our operators on any number of supportive initiatives; readers will be aware getting a game made is just the start of the effort required to succeed. We have worked hard to make ReelPlay a vital part of any casino’s portfolio and are proud that our games are in demand by operators across the globe where gaming is legal. 

For the rest of the year, we’ll continue to build by addressing new markets, securing new partner opportunities and launching additional value propositions such as IP partnerships with competitive collaborators, who are busy building their own Infinity Reels games, for example. All the while we don’t forget a simple mantra that ‘We make slots’. I’m confident the business will remain in rude health by continuing to create and deliver profitable, memorable and re-playable games for ourselves and our partners.