James Curwen is the CEO and Founder of Golden Rock Studios, an up-and-coming developer dedicated to innovating the iGaming experience in full. Mr. Curwen spoke with GamblingNews.com helping us understand more about the project he is now heading.
Q: Golden Rock Studios is clearly focusing on those gamers who want to win big. Why have you decided to go with high volatility games instead of opting for a safer path?
James: With all our operator experience we have a true understanding of the most valuable customers; we are building games for gamblers who are chasing the big wins and engaging features. Our roadmap includes games that are also feature rich and more entertaining and you will see that in Q1 with Dream Machine and Gold N Rocks
Q: Your company has set an ambitious goal for itself – devising games that innovate across the board, including artwork, sound, and math. An undertaking such as this seems quite demanding and certainly resource-hungry. What’s your strategy to scale a portfolio of games that focus on unique features exclusively?
James: Will and I worked on our innovative concepts for over a year and then built a team around us who can support our ambitions. We have had to bring in some 3rd party support short term to hit our targets but are very confident in our 2020 roadmap and our delivery pipeline.
Q: Do you see yourself innovating in a way that upends the current gaming experience whereby a player engages with a slot other than pressing the ‘spin’ button? Do you see Golden Rock Studios pushing in a direction where you create ‘freer’ games in terms of player controls?
James: We believe that we are experts in creating emotive gaming experiences, we have been working on new ways of betting unseen in the industry and you will be able to see that innovation in 2020
Q: You have mentioned that you want to innovate the table games experience as well, as you feel there is a vacuum and lack of development there. How would Golden Rock Studios reinvigorate the segment?
James: In Q1 next year we will be launching ‘3’ innovative table games, it is my strong belief that they will bring something new and exciting for the first time in years! There are no RNG table game experts and we want to be aggressive in that area of Online.
Q: Do you personally feel freer to re-shape the industry to your own taste with a smaller project rather than working within a larger corporation?
James: I’ve enjoyed my years in corporates and feel I made an impact at companies like William Hill when creating the first dedicated live dealer studios with Evolution Gaming or the huge success we had with WH Vegas when we launched only bespoke games for nearly ‘5’ years.
However, the reins are now off for Will and I [want] to innovate and build the type of games that we want to play without distractions. We have some of the strongest concepts coming to life next year. We are very confident and excited!
Q: Where are Golden Rock Studios’ future markets going to be in the coming years? Do you see over-regulation in Europe pushing many companies overseas?
James: The UK is getting tough as are other regulated markets. The good news for us is that we have a games strategy for all of them. Not all games work for every market, so we are building to target markets as well as players.
Q: What’s your opinion on the stricter regulator climate in the United Kingdom and calls for higher taxes and more control over the sector? William Hill recently commissioned a survey from PwC indicating that black market may have been boosted as a result of recent events.
James: Unfortunately, it is my belief that online gaming is an easy target for regulators, as operators put up little resistance. At times they are enforcing rules that are harming the players experience.
Q: Do you think there is a way for casino suppliers to also actively help reduce problem gambling behavior?
James: Problem gambling is a serious issue but not all people who gamble have a problem. It’s the operators who have direct contact with their clients and I know that nearly all of them take it very seriously and they conduct a number of interventions with their clients to see who really has problem so that they can offer help. As far as being a supplier we need to ensure our content is designed for over 18’s and make our games transparent in their gameplay.
Q: It seems a bit too early to bring up, but do you see Golden Rock Studios expanding into live dealer solutions? If so, what hypothetical innovation you see yourself bringing to the table? Does 3D gaming sound tempting or is it rather too niche and difficult to implement.
James: Without question our RNG innovative table games could be turned into engaging live dealer concepts. I believe a partnership deal is more likely, let’s see what the future brings.