Playson’s Lars Kollind reflects on a fantastic year for slot provider
Playson HQ has been a very busy place over the last year. The casino software developer has signed numerous partnerships, released a variety of popular titles and entered into new markets. We spoke to Playson’s Business Development Manager, Lars Kollind, to discuss his highlights of the last year.
It has been an incredibly busy 12 months for Playson. Could you let us know what’s been happening?
The last year has been the most exciting and productive period yet for Playson. We’ve received new licences, expanded our global footprint with important commercial deals, and solidified our status by releasing some of our most thrilling slots to date. Delivering superb titles is what we are renowned for and we’ve made sure to keep players enthused with the continued release of games such as Clover Riches, Book of Gold: Symbol choice and Super Burning Wins: Respins - a classic addition to our “Timeless Fruit Slots” series. Nevertheless, the real star in our ever-expanding portfolio has been Solar Queen which exceeded our already high expectations to become our biggest hit of the year.
Along with delivering exciting slots, offering diversity and enthralling gameplay has always been paramount at Playson and one of the most successful ways we’ve done this is with our cash giveaway tournaments. Having recently increased the winning pot to €50,000, figures from our All Hail The Solar Queen Tournament and Book of Gold: Symbol choice have shown these cash giveaways to be incredibly popular.
This year has also seen the development and introduction of our promotional tools, which have been a huge hit with players. These innovative features have been developed to meet our partners' needs for increasing engagement and to enhance the experience of their audiences. Our range of promotional mechanics has a proven track record for successful player acquisition, conversion and retention and add a new bespoke element to our offering.
Parallel to releasing innovative games and finding thrilling new ways to deliver them, we have been concentrating on entering into new regulated markets. A long-term project that recently came to fruition was the granting of a Class II Licence to Playson by the Romanian regulator, helping increase our presence in the Balkans and this was followed later in the year by the fantastic news we had completed our inspection in Sweden.
The growing reputation of our slots and entrance into new markets has led to the signing of strategic deals with some of the industry’s leading operators including LeoVegas and Kindred Group, along with rising stars including SuprNation and TOPsport.
You’ve developed a great reputation in the industry for your slot games such as Solar Queen and Crystal Land. Could you tell us about the development process?
We have some incredibly inspired game developers which helps keep our slots as cutting-edge as possible. By constantly tracking key trends in the industry, we always keep a close eye on what the market needs and our designers then imbue the new games with their individual style. Essentially it really is a mix of new trends and classic concepts.
The industry has a fixation with innovation, which is undeniably important, but not to the degree whereby it should ignore the influence and heritage of classic games. At Playson, we aim for a happy medium to accommodate the needs of every player.
Our cutting-edge gem-themed games such as Crystal Land, with its 7x7 grid and match-3 mechanics, has proved hugely popular among mobile players, and Crystal Crush, with its cluster pays on a hexagonal game field with 61 cells, has seen great success with those looking for non-formulaic gameplay.
Nevertheless, there are reasons certain slots are perennial favourites. Slots based around classics themes such as fruits and Ancient Egypt are easy to understand, with a familiar and safe playability. Players may also have a history of these being the first machines they played, triggering a sense of nostalgia unattainable to games with less recognisable concepts and gameplay.
Our development team has been hugely successful this year combining both innovation and classic elements and and this can be seen in our latest releases. Solar Queen is our top-performing slot which has achieved the much sought-after goal of “stickiness” with our leading operator partners. The game broke records for the number of bets and players.
This stunning Egyptian-themed 4x5 slot with 20 lines transports players to a place of mysticism and excitement and features the progressive accumulation of Wild symbols and winning multipliers to pique the interest of even the most seasoned adventurers and guarantees a thrilling gaming experience. Sun symbols trigger the Flaming Frames feature and increase multipliers, and with every tenth spin each frame is transformed into Wild symbols.
With winning multipliers, free spins, and the elusive Queen symbol appearing in stack, Solar Queen is a real combination of exciting gameplay and recognisable concepts which has really seemed to spark interest among players
The evolution of technology will always provide new concepts and mechanics that give game designers more and more tools to work with, but ultimately it comes down to the demand of consumers – classic slot design and gameplay will always be attractive to players but that should in no way hinder how a company innovates with its games and features.
We’ve never lost sight of the fundamental ideals that are crucial to building an enjoyable title with great gamification and an intuitive user interface. Over-complex gameplay is a sure-fire way to turn your customers of but refusing to change to an ever-evolving market would also be rather bull-headed. We build our content with strong mathematical and mechanical foundations along with stunning visuals that continue to attract players.
You mentioned Playson’s promotional tools. Could you tell us a little more about them?
Due to increased market competition, we’ve seen an upsurge in the popularity of our promotional features as operators use the bespoke tools to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Our promotional features give operators the opportunity to customise games, making their brands stand out from the crowd, and giving players a truly unique and immersive experience.
We are always thinking of new features to keep players enthused with new content and one of the most successful ways we’ve done this is with our promotional Network Tournaments. Having recently increased the winning pot to €50,000, figures from our Tournaments have shown these cash giveaways to be very popular and a fantastic tool in not only retaining Playson fans, but also attracting new players. Starting from April we have had eight network promotions with a total giveaway fund of 230 000 EUR and we have also scheduled a £100,000 Christmas story network promotion which includes three tournaments.
Along with the huge success of our tournaments, our other features have also been a big hit with players and operators alike. Playson Free Spins are very easy to configure and with a flexible set up, Free Spins have proved fantastic for reactivating and retaining players. Our feature triggers are also very simple to integrate and seem to be a huge hit with players who enjoy that added element of personalisation that comes with custom features.
Another popular feature of our promotional tools canon is our Local Jackpots which are shared across Playson’s portfolio. Featuring Multilevel Jackpots, Mystery Jackpots and Daily Jackpots, operators have told us they have driven brand loyalty and increased the average bet. And while these features are supported on multiple games, they make things simple by having have no influence on the game mathematics.
Our Seamless Play or Universal Game ID feature provides an opportunity for the integration of single game client. The feature can be run both on the desktop and mobile devices on most popular OS and browsers. Game progress and financial information, as well as other player’s progress information, will be totally synchronised and this have proven popular with our customers who want to have concise access to information at their fingertips.
Do you feel increased compliance and stricter regulation is hamstringing innovation in the industry, or should it be seen as springboard for creative problem-solving?
I feel as an industry that the days when compliance was considered a constraint on a business’ development or innovation are now firmly in the past.
For a business to thrive in an industry where regulations are constantly evolving, being malleable is the key to success. Though some companies see compliance as something that needs to be weathered, those in the industry’s vanguard see it as an opportunity to thrive. Companies must be flexible if they are to reap the rewards of industry developments.
The introduction of our promotional tools saw the development, engineering, product and integration teams do a fantastic job. They studied the regulated markets we targeted ensuring technical compliance with the help of our test lab, while never compromising on the ability to create interesting and unique products.
With more countries regulating and competition intensifying, operators are under more pressure than ever to flourish. Companies should be able to adapt quickly to compliance, regulation and the industry as a whole if they want to secure an advantage.
This year has seen you expand across Europe and the Nordics. How important are these markets to Playson?
Central and Eastern Europe, along with the Nordics, have been a big focus for us this year. We’ve made some prominent commercial advances into these areas and enhanced our position in markets such as Lithuania, with the company TOPsport. We’ve also extended our reach across Latvia with operator Klondaika and partnering with E-Play 24 has helped us solidify our position in Italy. We are currently working on getting certificates in four new jurisdictions across Central and Eastern Europe which will be a focus for next year.
These new expansions have had the knock-on effects of seeing us partner with industry leaders such as ComeOn, Mr Green and Sisal, along with rising stars including SuprNation – all of which have helped expand our footprint in a variety of new markets worldwide.
Obtaining our Class II Romanian license from the ONJN and becoming fully compliant in Sweden has also given as a wealth of experience in new markets which has become invaluable. With each new market we enter we acquire more knowledge about regulations and territories. This makes us better equipped to deal with a variety of issues should they arise, in a variety of markets, ultimately making us a more robust potential commercial partner with an ability to react to regulatory changes with deftness and speed.
What do you envisage will be the biggest changes to the industry in the near future?
The rise of in-game jackpots and 24-hour drops have seen a dramatic increase in engagement levels and have proven a superb way to not only retain, but also to attract new players. Any product which gives quick winning results and promises to give its prizes away by a specific time, will always be exciting to players. The knowledge that anyone not only could, but must become a big prize winner, in a short timeframe, is a captivating concept for both new and old players alike.
We’re also seeing a large influence from other sectors where personalisation has become paramount to customer retention. The models of Netflix and Amazon, where AI recommendation engines create a more bespoke experiences for players is now influencing almost every industry. Gone are the days of bombarding consumers and expecting results now consumers have now become more advertisement-savvy. Companies must now become more inventive and targeted when advertising to players, and over the next year it will be exciting to see how the industry approaches these issues.