Relax Gaming’s Simon Hammon: “Retaining the Competitive Edge in Game Production and Delivery”

Relax Gaming is a leader in the B2B sector, providing solutions in every major vertical of the iGaming, poker and bingo experiences. The company owns its proprietary technology that enables the fast delivery of compelling products to hundreds of thousands of gaming fans.

Yet, the company has spared no effort in delivering a comprehensive portfolio of titles available through four business models, known as Powered by Relax Game Server, Silver Bullet, Powered by Plat to Plat and Relax Own Games.

Each brings a fresh outlook on gaming and introduces players to outstanding game features and numerous themes. The company was recently acquired by Kindred Group, but as a torchbearer in iGaming, Relax will retain autonomy over its own day-to-day operation while still benefiting from an accelerated B2B growth and expansion as part of the Kindred family.

Relax Gaming stays at the forefront of delivering impactful content that remains a driver of acquisition for brands. Today with us we have Chief Product Officer Simon Hammon who has agreed to walk us through how Relax Gaming stays ahead in a highly competitive market where visibility for games is often a challenge to achieve.

Q: Kindred Group has recently purchased Relax Gaming’s outstanding shares. Would that change anything in Relax’s internal process, from how you plan new content and products to how you deliver them?

A: Kindred and Relax have enjoyed a strong partnership for many years so this further acquisition is a common-sense extension of that relationship. From a business perspective for Relax, this doesn’t change our internal process or roadmap. Ultimately, Relax is growing, and [is] a successful B2B company that services a wide range of customer needs and markets. The delivery route of both our content and partnership content will remain the same for all our operator partners and is both robust and scalable.

Q: Do you see a shift in the industry towards more designers and tailored content? You have four different business models insofar as your games go. Do these categories represent distinct gameplay mechanics, genres, or something different?

A: Our business models are purely reflective of commercial and technical delivery of content either from ourselves or third parties. Relax supports over 50 partners who bring a wide range of content to market. Naturally, these partners range in size, focus, technical set-up, licensing capabilities and commercial power on their own. The different business models reflect the support level and also independence required from a partner rather than specifically about game genre or type.

On tailored or custom content, of course, there is a desire for operators to differentiate in a crowded market so we are seeing increasing demand for this. There is the natural challenge of meeting the end-user’s expectations but also providing a good business model for the supplier.

Q: How do studios position themselves to gain further visibility in today’s highly competitive gaming market? Does a company need to push a product through promotions and media coverage or are consumers going to discover a product by themselves?

A: The casino supplier landscape is fiercely competitive while visibility of the offering plays a key role in the success of a game. For me, the product still needs to be strong to have long-term stickiness but helping players find the game and to try the game is imperative. Studios are increasingly working with the affiliate media and streamer community to build awareness not only with the operators but also the player community as a whole. Promotion and positioning are highly important for helping players find the offering but ultimately the game needs to resonate to perform, especially after the initial launch period.

Q: Do your clients place requests from you to create or provide specific content? In other words, do you set standards for customers or do they come to you placing demands, or is it more of a collaborative process where you analyse market needs and work towards fulfilling them?

A: Operators still want to see the individual creativity from studios. There is so much choice on the market today that they can afford to show discretion and select only the best of what they think will resonate with the players. Of course, listening to customers is imperative and gathering insights on what is working in a specific territory is vital to devising an offering that succeeds. This can help shape some core game design principles, but we also have data on a cross-network view, which can sometimes show differing data to take into consideration.

In its purest form, the studio decides the game flow and product, however, only those who carry out the necessary preliminary research will be successful. Data and customer feedback are essential in helping frame the mindset over product direction.

Q: Speaking of marketing, has the role of streamers in the iGaming space increased over the past years? Do more people find it enjoyable to watch slots on Twitch, for example, as the games continue to evolve and include more compelling features?

A: The streamer community has placed a new dynamic into the sphere of both product visibility and in some respects also game design. If you are a slots enthusiast then watching a streamer can often give insights, game flow and general feeling on a game that can influence your own choice.

In the drive for new mechanical twists and gameplay, it can be interesting to observe the user’s journey and the perceived entertainment value. The winning potential displayed in a streamer’s video can be critical to whether players decide to invest their time and money in it or not. The streamer community has allowed suppliers to get an additional tier of insight into the hearts and minds of the players, but on the other hand, it has also driven a massive spike in higher volatility slot design to create bigger and more impressive wins.

Q: Have player preferences changed over the past years and what drives customer acquisition for Relax Gaming’s partners today?

A: Yes, I believe so. There have been both preference and behavioral changes in players over the years. Players today are looking for more interesting mechanics that are both intuitive and have evident winning potential. This is significantly different from the traditional player behavior, where one would take the time to discover a game and get a feel for it before forming an opinion of it.

Nowadays, a supplier needs to work much harder to capture the player’s imagination in a much shorter timeframe. Customer acquisition really relies on having something different and exciting to offer. Players no longer want to see repetition or re-skins of the same style game. They need to see unique and exciting content that has adapted to their changing demands.

Q: We are inching towards the end of 2021, what’s next for you?

A: We have a fantastic quarter ahead of us with a roadmap we believe will impress. As always, we are looking to continue our strong game development process and have exciting new concepts to launch. We will naturally also continue to sign new partners and expand our distribution reach with many new tier-one operators coming through. A key focus for the coming 12 months will be our new regulated market openings and developments as well as exciting features to be added to our newly announced Relax Apex architecture framework, which opens up a great deal of opportunities!

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