Design Works Gaming has been building games for land-based, social, and online casinos for more than 15 years from its base in Scottsdale, Arizona. In December, DWG launched its first real-money online content in the US when it went live in New Jersey.
We spoke to DWG founder and CEO Troy Zurawski to discuss their plans in the US, how US and European content differs and what operators in the highly competitive New Jersey market need to do to stand apart from their competitors.
Q: Over recent months DWG has launched with several operators in New Jersey. How have the first few months in New Jersey gone for you?
It’s been less than six months since we launched in New Jersey and the progress we’ve made in that short amount of time has been phenomenal. We knew this was both an exciting market and an extremely competitive one, but we’re confident our team and our games were ready for the challenge. The success we’ve seen speaks for itself. Not only are several of our titles topping the charts in the state, but we’re on the cusp of launching with some of the largest New Jersey operators in the next couple of months.
We worked closely with our launch partner Light & Wonder, who distribute our games via their OpenGaming™ platform, and our first two New Jersey operators, Golden Nugget and Resorts. We wanted to start off with a bang, so we did what we do best and followed the data. This helped us narrow down our content to an initial 33 titles for the launch, drawn from high performers across our land-based, social and European RMG online portfolio. We’re continuing to build upon this with new launches, working closely with our operator partners to ensure the games we put out are optimized to really resonate with their players.
Q: In the increasingly competitive New Jersey market, how can operators use content to stand apart from the crowd?
One area we’ve seen a lot of success in is building bespoke games with our partners. Our approach has been about collaboration with our operators to help produce the best games. Recently, we worked closely with the Resorts Digital Gaming team to create a series of New Jersey- and Atlantic City-themed games for their ResortsCasino.com brand. Their inside knowledge of what their audience resonates with helped inform our process, and in turn, resulted in two games that have been consistent high-performers since launch. We’re now working with other leading operators in the market to do the same.
Q: Are you eyeing up other regulated markets in the US? Where do you see the most growth potential?
Absolutely. We are now licensed in three other US states beyond New Jersey: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. We’re a US-based company and as soon as it became clear that regulated online gaming was coming to the US, our mission was to set the standard for casino content here. Many of these newly-regulated jurisdictions are in need of quality, original games that will give players in these states a reason to log on and play. We’re now in a position to not only get certified but also bring our games to market at break-neck speed in these new states. It’s going to give us, and our partners, a huge edge over the competition.
Q: How does DWG approach real-money casino content in the US compared to Europe?
There are universal elements to building great games, but there are also an infinite amount of local considerations based on the market and vertical you are targeting. DWG has a very different approach and process than many of the other studios whose content you’ll find our games alongside. We’ve built extensively for land-based, social, and RMG and we’ve assembled a team that brings together decades of experience along the way.
For us, building games for any market or vertical is about combining elements. We know we understand the art of building games better than anyone. We’re also confident enough in our ability to follow the data that we’re not afraid to innovate. If the data points us in a certain direction, we’re going to follow it even if it might seem counterintuitive. You have to take this approach in any market because gaming, and content, is becoming increasingly fragmented. It’s about serving lots of niches, not trying to force players into your way of thinking.
The US is still an emerging market as far as real-money online gaming is concerned. We’re making no assumptions on how it will develop over the coming years. As a US company that’s waited for this opportunity for many years, we’re taking nothing for granted.
Q: What’s the focus for DWG for the rest of 2022?
We have some big announcements coming over the next few months, including launches with several Tier 1 operators in both Europe and the US. We’ll also be going live in additional US states, and monitoring the regulatory situation for additional opportunities across North America.
At the same time, our team continues to build best-in-class content while pushing the boundaries of what is possible with casino content. We’re also studying the data and experimenting, and you never know when the next big breakthrough is coming. That’s what keeps us going.