Bryan Upton is to iGaming what Rolling Stones are to rock. His extensive career has taken him through some of the most respected brands across the industry, including NetEnt and IGT, and he did a four-year stint with OpenBet.
Since August 2020, Upton has chosen to pursue a more creative outlet of the iGaming experience, getting behind Lucksome, his brainchild studio focusing on delivering online casino games created by a small team of professionals.
The last several months have seen the introduction of Loki: Lord of Mischief and Joker Maxima, which elicited positive reviews from players and industry observers. We sit down with Upton to ask him about his motivation behind Lucksome and what is next for Team Lucksome.
Q: You have been with Lucksome for over a year now. Can you help us understand what has been achieved so far and what the brand’s distinct qualities are?
A: Most of it is getting up to speed. We are a new team, using a new tech stack in a true start-up style. We have started from scratch in many ways, setting our game behavioral standards, designing our reel timings, and creating our UI. We put all of that into our first game, Divine Links, which was a test of all the hard work, detail, and initial assumptions we put together. We’re now up to speed with an expanded team and have kicked off a lot more games projects and should be on target to deliver more, higher-quality games next year. We, of course, spent a lot of time on our brand. There’s no point living a brand that the team is at odds with.
Lucksome is playful but serious about games and transparent about how we have put them together. The world is full of content, so we ask the question to our players: “Is this game for you? If it is, you will enjoy it as we made it for you. If not, there are other games out there for you to enjoy.” That way, we can deliver the best gaming sessions and experiences. This is all wrapped up with our Tagline “Games to Treasure.” We want players to know what we are about, and not wasting their limited time, making it worthwhile for them is always the goal.
Q: Your experience would have allowed you to work about anywhere you wanted to. Why did you go down this more individualistic road instead?
A: I guess I’m attempting to get back to my roots after a little bit of soul searching and reflection (either that or I’m having a mid-life crisis!). Games and Games Design has always been a passion. I did corporate and product management for the latter part of my career, and towards the end of my time at NetEnt, I think I was looking after around 370 people. This pushed me further away from the core of the product design. I’m a creative who understands pretty much all aspects of games design and product development, so it was an easy choice in the end. I think this emerging micro-studio approach with quality at its core is the only way to go in an industry with content saturation as it is today. I think it was fate that the Blueprint guys were looking for a studio to add to their pipeline of content. It was an easy decision from then on.
Q: Do you see Lucksome as a leading supplier in games, or is this not an immediate priority for the company?
A: An Interesting question. Every studio wants to be the best, have their games played, loved, or at least respected by players, so of course, we are striving for this. It’s through careful design, understanding, attention to detail, and, of course, time for us to achieve this. We are improving every aspect of our games as we go, and we are getting better and better and indeed more adventurous in our designs and plans. We are also pushing the limits of our tech to do some great stuff. 2022 should be an exciting year for us at Lucksome, with some great games and new formats slated for release.
Q: What changes do you foresee in iGaming over the next years, and will Lucksome adapt or even set trends?
A: Regulation will continue to introduce challenges and opportunities as well as drive controversy on a global scale. We’ll see the continuation of M&A in our sector, and that I think will allow smaller studios some breathing room and some space to shine if we are smart, which is exciting for Lucksome. The US, of course, is a market everyone is watching and is generating excitement, but with that comes the advent of some very strong US-based online specific studios, spinning off from the giants during the pandemic. They will/are making waves where they haven’t in Europe. The US is becoming heavily contested very quickly, even before the player base matures. As the digitalization of players continues, especially in Europe, we will see the continuation of player maturity. This means trends and tastes are becoming quite pronounced, and we are seeing that, making sure that our math profiles, mechanics, and themes are in combinations that are targeted and local players like them. We have created our own way of informing players of the style of our games, so they know if it’s the right game for them, and we hope that, as we get a substantial portfolio under us, players learn to understand that they can feel comfortable and trust Lucksome Games.
Excitingly, new formats and game mechanics, if well designed, are catching on as players are always looking for something new. 2022 holds a strong roadmap of innovative concepts as we start to understand ourselves as a studio and the quality of ideas we can produce. We are just warming up, but things are going to start getting interesting!
Q: Where does Lucksome strength lie today?
A: We are a veteran team in the industry and have seen it all, and we are capable of anything we put our minds to. We are a small group, close to the beating heart of iGaming in Malta, so we can make fast and smart decisions, and our games will be as diverse as our team who hails from Malta, Belarussia, Sweden, India, Bulgaria, and the UK! I think quality and innovation win out, and that is where our future is and where our hearts lie. As with all start-ups, it is not easy, but it is fun, and we have the room and the skill to bring something different to the industry where it’s needed.