SiGMA caught up with David Mann, the debonair and dynamic Sales Manager at Wazdan, to find out exactly what it is that makes the disruptive technology company tick.
Regulated markets are always a hot topic and it will continue to be at the forefront of gaming news for the next year, especially with Sweden. As more countries bring in regulations, operators and suppliers will have to adapt. In some cases, we will see new markets open up and new opportunities created. iGaming is a very dynamic market and there is never a dull moment, but adapting to change is something the industry handles very well.
What’s happening in the slots market and what do you predict for the next 18 months? And beyond?
Gradually, the big players in the market are seeing their share decline and the smaller providers are at the door. There is a lot of competition – some people say it’s a saturated market – but as the industry grows there will be more demand for variation in products. Innovation is a massive selling point for suppliers like Wazdan and we will see some fantastic concepts coming out over the next few years from all of the providers. I predict over the next 18 months some really great things from other game providers – the best coming from Wazdan!
What’s shaping the industry?
Mobile is fast becoming the dominant force in the industry. As better technology becomes available, players are able to have a spin on the move, commuting, at home, anywhere. You can see this reflected in the quality of mobile content – from both providers and operators – to help provide a complete package that will work as well on a mobile as on a desktop. We have anticipated this and created some exceptional unique features that strengthen our mobile product.
What new innovative features have you released in order to stay ahead of the game in the constantly-evolving slots industry?
It’s very competitive being a game provider right now, with a lot of superb competition. For us, our innovations complement our games, to create superior products that give players more control. Our Custom Volatility feature allows players to alter the volatility of the game with a simple tap of a button. We have also anticipated the surge in mobile play with our Energy Saving mode, which lowers the strain on the battery during play to extend playing time by up to 40%. Along with this, our Double Screen mode recreates a land-based feel in portrait mode to maximise the game presentation and display the pay-table. We also include a unique Gamble feature in our games to add this into the mix.
How important do you think the social element is when creating new slots products?
I think trying to make slots into a social experience is something best left on the operator side. Many players will be quite happy to play slots solo and keep it as a personal pastime, but it is always nice to read stories about players landing huge wins. We want everyone to be enjoying our games and sharing joy is one of the best things in life.
What’s the concept, ethos and driving idea behind Wazdan? What’s your positioning and key differentiators?
We see ourselves as a premium games provider, driven by a passion for games to produce high-quality content that players will recognise as a Wazdan product. We put massive efforts into creating our games, with everything made in-house to ensure a truly authentic product. Our unique features help us stand out from the pack to provide a complete gaming experience.
Who are Wazdan?
We are industry veterans brought together by our passion for games to produce market-leading games for the gaming industry. I like to think of us
as a start-up with a head start as we build upon our vast experience in the land-based sector to take on the online sector. Among my colleagues in our Malta office we have combined knowledge of the operator side, affiliation, service providers and games suppliers, equipping us with an understanding of all aspects of the industry.
What’s the expansion plan at Wazdan? Where will Wazdan be in 3 to 5 years?
We recently moved to our new offices in Birkirkara, Malta, where we have plenty of room for expansion – we even have some live roles at the moment as we aim to attract some of the top talent who want to be on board for our journey to the top. Within 3 years we anticipate being the premium games provider outside of the traditional “big names”, taking a significant market share as our partner list grows. We’re in discussions with many of the top operators, aggregators and platform providers in the gaming industry and we know that as our content becomes more widespread we will be seen as essential to any online casino.
Why do you think Malta is such a hotbed for the iGaming industry?
Looking at it from an employee perspective, people from across Europe get to live on a beautiful island with a fantastic climate in the Mediterranean Sea. The job market in gaming is strong, it’s very easy to move here from EU countries and having English as an official language is very underrated, especially when it comes to bureaucracy. From a business perspective, aside from the obvious tax benefits, we have some of the largest companies in the industry based within a short distance from one another, allowing regular meetings, contact, events and stronger partnerships. Personal connections can flourish with close proximity, and with so many industry-specific events it is not unusual to be mixing with people across the spectrum from casino, sportsbook, affiliation, operations and more.
In an industry that’s so focused on digital and tech, can you look around the corner and tell us what you see? Where is the igaming industry heading and is Wazdan ready for it?
It’s hard to pinpoint what the major changes on the horizon will be with regard to tech - VR is an obvious answer but I’m not so sold on it taking off for online casino quite yet, at least with regards to slots. Providers will focus more on functionality and features as mobile technology progresses to make full use of the enhanced power.
In such a competitive environment, what makes a great slots game?
There really is no magic formula. Some games take operators by surprise at how successful they can be – at the end of the day, the players decide why a game is successful. The best-performing games now across the industry bear little relation to each other but are consistently at the top of casino games lists. Different countries have different tastes, meaning operators working in multiple markets will tailor their games lists and promotions to reflect typical player attitudes.
Which casino games do you play? What are your favourites?
I’ve always been a fan of blackjack when I’m in the casino, but for slots I’m a sucker for games rich with exciting bonus features. Some of our releases coming out this year drew plaudits at ICE and in some of our product meetings with partners. So, expect some big things, not only focused on bonus features but on a range of products to suit every player preference.
What do you love most about the industry?
iGaming seems to move very fast. New operators spring up from nowhere and take everyone by surprise. New features are released that become industry standards; new games come out that dominate the games lists across the board and become vital for every operator. It’s great to be working in a fast-paced environment where you really have to keep up to remain focused and see the influences driving change in the industry. The dynamism is exhilarating
What is this Wazdan ‘Volatility Level’ that we keep hearing about?
This is probably our coolest and most famous unique feature, and at ICE we had a large showcase on it, displayed by varying strengths of Wazdan beer. Basically, we’re letting players change the volatility in-game, going from low, medium and high volatility levels to suit their preferences, playing styles or strategies. Crucially, the game RTP stays the same. It’s the math behind the game that is altered. We’re very proud of this innovative feature and it is implemented in all of our latest games.
Have you started planning for SiGMA 2018?
Yes, preparations have begun for not only SiGMA 2018 but many other exhibitions. We plan to really make an impact this year and following fantastic feedback about our exhibition stall at ICE we think we’re on the right track with how best to present ourselves. It looks like a bit of a world tour for Wazdan this year – across Europe, Asia, and beyond!
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