Q&A: iSoftBet-Betsson discuss Piggy Bank Megaways collaboration
iSoftBet director of commercial strategy Michael Probert and Betsson Group head of games Paul Malt discuss the recent collaborative launch of Piggy Bank Megaways
How did this collaboration come about?
Michael Probert: Betsson has been a longstanding customer of ours for many years. They have a multi-brand strategy and are constantly looking for differentiated content that can be offered to specific markets and player types, making them the ideal company to collaborate with on a custom game project like this. So, as a trusted partner, we were delighted by the opportunity to work together.
We complement each other very well, with Betsson having previous experience of game development, which is of course our core skillset and part of our vision – putting brands and their players at the heart of everything we do. Betsson are acutely aware of the make-up of their audience, what they want and what their behaviour is like, while we have the expertise to tailor any experience to a client’s specific requirement. Both brands are well versed in the design of high-quality products, enabling us to form the perfect partnership.
Paul Malt: This is not the first time we’ve collaborated with iSoftBet on an early release exclusive, and we’ve nurtured a strong relationship with the brand over many years. We’ve been very selective with these collaborative projects to ensure that they appeal to our target audience, resulting in successful exclusive launches for Euphoria, Western Gold Megaways and Aztec Gold Megaways. Exclusive game releases are proven to stir excitement in target audiences and provide an extra push, so the obvious next step was to create something bespoke to our requirements for an even wider appeal.
Our brands share many core values, which has made it possible to launch an effective multi-brand strategy for this release. The main objective was to create a product that is unique to our requirements and we’ve both delivered on that.
How important are custom games in the industry now?
MP: We’ve seen an explosion in custom games in recent years. Equally, we’ve noticed many of these so-called ‘customisations’ have simply been a mere logo or symbol change, so we decided to take the model a significant step further by allowing operators to work with us across every element of our high-quality games. This includes mechanics, gameplay, design, animation and sound, which can all be tweaked in the aim of creating something fundamentally different and unique for players. Customisation is out there on the market, just not to the high standards we set ourselves.
What unique features, development techniques and flavours do both parties bring?
PM: iSoftBet brings a wealth of experience, solid game concepts and proven math models to deliver high-quality gaming experiences that resonate with players, while we bring market data, crucial information on player behaviour, and performance indicators. Combined, we’ve produced a really enjoyable and highly playable game.
MP: Both iSoftBet and Betsson are constantly innovating and looking to create new entertainment products from proven math models. Our custom game model is the ideal vehicle to create a new dynamic using a proven theme, proven math, great gameplay and features players have proven to like, alongside a theme they have also shown a great affinity to.
This has great benefits for both sides. We work and co-create with a leading brand and like-minded partner such as Betsson, while they benefit from having more control in terms of deadlines and their content portfolio, instead of relying on suppliers to deliver. We can also co-produce the title without the need for an external development team, while Betsson can focus on marketing the game and take a more detailed approach to innovation within areas such as design and animation.
What was the thinking behind this theme and the mechanic and what unique features does this have that you can’t find anywhere else?
PM: We wanted to build a game based on a proven maths model, with an instantly recognisable look and feel. In 2015 we released a series of exclusive games called the ‘Betsson Classics’, which still perform very well to this day. We then decided to choose the classic slot ‘Piggy Bank’ and update it with new graphics and fresh, action-packed game mechanics.
Updating one of our most successful games of all time by using an established theme, while adding Megaways to a proven math model to appeal to wider audiences, has given Piggy Bank a new lease of life and we have high hopes it will go far.
What was the co-development/production process like compared to the way you usually work?
MP: It’s been great fun, but equally challenging due to Betsson’s game development heritage and level of expertise – they challenge us to really push the boundaries, but this is exactly what we enjoy and demand from our own teams. By applying our proven math model from Western Gold Megaways as a foundation for Piggy Bank this has resulted in one of our most successful and rewarding projects to date.
Betsson have high standards, and know exactly what they want, but we are confident in our own ability to create and deliver a high-quality, compelling product to market. Unlike other suppliers, we offer a comprehensive service that includes logo branding and full customization. There has to be a value to it that appeals to both operators and players, and the resulting game must bring something new and exciting to players with a unique style and feel.
What have you learned from this process that you will take with you and use when developing other content?
MP: We have a proven track record of working with brands on custom game projects, but this was our first in Europe and arguably our most challenging, due to the high standards we place on ourselves and that Betsson expect. If we’ve learned one thing, it’s that we know we’re at the top of our game and have the very best talent and technology at our disposal to push forwards with many more custom game projects.
We can serve many operators that have multi-brand strategies, across multiple markets. Using iSoftBet as a trusted partner to create content tailored to their players, we now know that we can co-create on much more localised and market specific content.
This collaboration plays neatly into your brand values of player centricity, passion, curiosity and respect. Was this a deliberate strategy?
MP: Earlier this year we revised our brand manifesto with a vision to create amazing gaming experiences and ensure our customers, our teams and the players who play our games are at the heart of what we do. We try to apply these values when creating custom games, particularly passion. Piggy Bank Megaways has been six months of passion for slots, curiosity of how we can take this game to the next level and respect for our partner’s requirements. This has resulted in an incredible game with a fantastic user experience.
How do you plan to market this collaboration, are you using any new methods, tactics and will you be running a tournament or promotion around it this summer?
PM: We run a game of the month campaign, where all brands participate in multiple marketing activities. Each region pushes their strongest promotion types including tournaments, free spins and cross sell to other verticals all designed to maximise the exposure and drive player activity.
That said, we’re planning a 15-game-strong iSoftBet tournament this summer, of which Piggy Bank Megaways will be one, so there will be plenty of activity to boost the early success of this product and we’re confident players will absolutely love it.
Is this something you’re planning to do again? If so, what would you keep and what would you change and what can we look forward to next?
PM: In all honesty, we would keep almost everything, so much so that we’re already discussing game number two. It’s too early in the process to give anything away but watch this space for more news on the project!
MP: Absolutely. As Paul says, we are constantly delivering a variety of entertainment experiences with our partners. Every customer has their own tastes, needs and player behaviours. Developing a custom game means we invest time and resources to make sure we deliver products that go above and beyond our client’s expectations.