G3 discusses the reinvigoration of the Gauselmann Group’s online gaming presence with those orchestrating the changes we’ll see take shape in 2019, Jürgen Stühmeyer and Maja Cvetkovic.
Ahead of next month’s ICE London exhibition, G3 looks at the developments taking place within the Gauselmann Group to exploit its wealth of gaming expertise and knowledge in the online gaming space in 2019
The Gauselmann Group is doubling down on its online gaming focus in 2019. What has been the stimulus for this reinvigoration of online?
JS: For over 60 years it has been the Gauselmann Group’s mission to provide high-quality entertainment and fun in gaming by offering “more than a game”. Based on our core competences content, technology and operations we are committed to offering the best gaming experience to players anytime and anywhere in regulated gaming markets worldwide. Our portfolio encompasses the development, production and distribution of gaming machines and related accessories; gaming operations in Germany and across Europe; development and operations of land-based and online sports betting offerings; as well as development, distribution and operations of online gaming solutions and content.
The worldwide online gaming market has seen strong and continuous growth in the past ten years and is expected to grow at a CAGR of approx. 10% in the next five years. With continued progression of mobile devices and availability of broadband internet worldwide particularly mobile gaming is a key growth driver for the entire gaming industry. Furthermore, mobile gaming addresses a younger generation of players than land-based gaming, making it an important factor for growth and the future of gaming.
The Gauselmann Group has started its activities in the online gaming segment in 2008, bringing the popular Merkur games to online players across Europe while focusing exclusively on regulated and licensed markets. Gauselmann´s online games and online gaming solutions are being distributed by the sales teams of adp Gauselmann as well as edict eGaming in Hamburg/ Germany and the British company Blueprint Gaming Ltd.
In addition to providing online gaming solutions and content to online operators and B2B-partners, the Gauselmann Group also operates online casinos for players in a number of regulated and licensed countries such as Spain, the UK and Italy, providing safe and secure casino entertainment. Furthermore, the group offers a social online casino for players in Germany and other European countries.
Within 2018, we have further strengthened our focus on the online gaming segment by making some additions to our online gaming teams as well as starting several new business development and content initiatives.
How is the company organising its gaming divisions to support this growth?
JS: Our German company edict eGaming GmbH specialises in the development and sales of turnkey system platforms ‘made in Germany’ for the online casino market. Furthermore, edict and adp Gauselmann work together on adapting the popular Merkur land-based games for online casinos. We are also enhancing our efforts in developing specific content for online gaming. Blueprint Gaming Limited is one of the leading multi-platform developers and providers of digital games in the UK. With its online and mobile offering, the British Gauselmann subsidiary is successfully expanding across Europe.
Sales and technical services are provided by affiliated companies in Malta and the Isle of Man. All companies have all necessary licenses from the respective authorities.
What are the future strategic goals for the Gauselmann Group in both mobile and online gaming and how do they differ from the company’s current position?
JS: We are aiming towards mobile first for our online games portfolio. To be honest, we are not there yet, however, we are making good progress by adapting our game development processes accordingly. With around 330 gaming operations in Germany and over 360 entertainment centers across Europe, our extensive experience in gaming operations places us in a unique position with regards to in-depth player understanding. This experience enables us to develop targeted content according to different player types and preferences providing games that players really enjoy. We are working towards utilising this core competence even more than before in the online gaming segment. With more than 700 employees in research and development worldwide, we have the experience and resources to develop entertaining and innovative online games and gaming solutions that resonate with player preferences. Furthermore, a key target is to provide a safe and secure online casino environment where players can enjoy entertainment and fun. We are also continuously enhancing our responsible gaming efforts by integrating the latest insights in player protection into our products.
The personnel driving change within a company are crucial to the success of any project. Who are the key team members propelling the online strategy forward for the Gauselmann Group?
JS: Absolutely – alongside our products, our employees are key to reaching the high benchmarks for our entire offering. In order to drive our online gaming strategy forward and enhance our new business development efforts in this segment we have hired Maja Cvetkovic as Business Development Manager Online. Maja’s role is to work closely together with the product teams to develop and adjust the online games roadmap according to market developments and needs. With her long-standing experience in the gaming industry she has a good understanding of player types and preferences and by continuously monitoring and researching market developments she identifies future trends and implements them into the roadmap.
A key target is to translate our well-known land-based games into online and make them popular with online players as well. Part of her role is also to identify new business opportunities worldwide, including new markets, growth areas, products and services. To do all that, Maja is gradually setting up a team around her.
The Gauselmann Group has an enormous portfolio of gaming titles: will the online games be ports of these already successful land-based titles; brand new games developed for online/mobile-only – or a mix of the two?
MC: We are strongly benefitting from porting successful land-based titles from the popular Merkur library – games that players know and enjoy playing. In addition to that we are focusing on developing specific games for online gaming, both with our existing game design studios as well as establishing a specific game design team for online.
In fact, we are opening a new game design studio, Bee Cool Gaming at the beginning of 2019. This newly established studio comprising of young but experienced professionals gathered from all around the world will solely focus on the development of online games content.
Online gaming also provides the opportunity to learn from the younger online players and derive future trends and subsequent strategies for the land-based area. To do so, we’re going to introduce some games for online first and in a second step for land-based. This strategy allows us to react quicker to general developments and trends in the gaming industry and adapt our content accordingly.
How will you select which games to port and how accurate and authentic will the games be to their land-based counterparts? How many games are you seeking to release in 2019?
MC: We closely monitor players’ needs and preferences in the various online markets and for different platforms. Furthermore we collect feedback from our partners in order to decide which games will be ported to online from the land-based side of business.
We have also learned that you should not change the game systems when porting games from land-based to online. Players have certain expectations for their favourite land-based games regarding symbols, bonuses and volatility levels. Of course, we are adapting the games if there are changes necessary due to regulatory requirements. Needless to say, we are then trying to stay as close as possible to the original land-based game. We are also following a strict “quality over quantity” strategy.
We are looking at introducing about 30 new online games in 2019. For some priority markets we will likely have some additional titles as required.
What’s the audience for these games – in terms of age, demographics, geography and prior knowledge of the land-based titles?
MC: We have a very diverse portfolio of content, particularly with the newest titles of which we are confident to reach various player segments with. Our games are targeting players who enjoy medium to high volatility. These types of games have always been a key element of our portfolio and this won’t change in the future. We know that players not only want a challenge while playing but also “nice” win amounts during their playing sessions. Clearly, a key market for us in the past was Germany and we will re-enter this market as soon as it is regulated. In this market there´s a clear advantage for our games as they are very well known from the land-based market.
Markets we are focusing on are Spain, UK, Romania, Croatia and Scandinavia, just to name a few. In 2019 we’re also entering the Latin American market.
Is growth online going to be organic, or is the Gauselmann Group going to be calling upon external support from development partners?
MC: The Gauselmann group has extensive experience and resources in game development. In addition to internally developed content, the group has been working with development partners in several areas. For example, edict eGaming provides an attractive and comprehensive library of online slot and table games developed by the Gauselmann Group as well as external providers.
How is the Gauselmann Group connecting with online operators to ensure its games are supported, marketed and distributed to the right channels?
MC: We are closely working together with our partners, listening to their feedback in order to continuously enhance our games and have them presented in an attractive way on their platforms. We’re also enhancing our marketing efforts for online operators by designing promotional packages and marketing material including teasers tailored for specific partners. For certain games we are also offering promotional campaigns. To do all that, we are currently strengthening our team by adding an Online Marketing Manager who will also focus on social media communication which is an important channel within online gaming, particularly for millennials.
How do you follow the new content trends and continue to innovate while bringing the back catalogue of games from land-based to online?
MC: We are continuously monitoring and researching market developments to identify future trends that we translate into our roadmap. To further strengthen our efforts in this area we are currently hiring a Product Marketing Manager who will strongly focus on markets and developments. As mentioned before, we are opening a new game design studio, Bee Cool Gaming at the beginning of 2019 that solely focusses on the development of online games content. We are also benefitting from the many new ideas coming from the various game design teams within the Gauselmann Group.
We are looking at games and features that are innovative and crossing the lines between classic computer games, game apps and slot games in order to attract new players including millennials who may not be familiar with our games and products yet.
Will the games be available across all digital channels – desktop and mobile? Will we see new game launched simultaneously across land-based, online and mobile channels as part of an omni-channel approach?
MC: This is definitely the direction we are heading towards. An omni-channel approach is getting more and more important for the entire industry as we move forward. Not only millennials take this for granted but also older generations who used to play games at casinos only.
What can visitors to the ICE show in February expect from the Gauselmann booth in terms of the enhanced focus upon online?
MC: At ICE 2019 the Gauselmann Group will further underline its commitment to the online gaming segment by presenting its online offering on a specific, dedicated booth. This booth will comprise Cashpoint sports betting solutions and edict eGaming online games and online gaming solutions. As part of its offering, edict will also present the latest Merkur games for online. In addition to that Blueprint Gaming will present its online games portfolio on the Merkur booth.
Can you give us a sneak peek of the new game releases we’ll be seeing both at ICE and into 2019?
MC: I am very happy to announce that we will be showcasing Zentaurus as online game at ICE. Zentaurus is one of the most successful games with operators in Europe and Latin America and will surely be a highlight of our ICE presentation. Furthermore, we are of course presenting our entire portfolio of online games and online gaming solutions and will reveal further highlights at the show. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to our booth at ICE 2019.