1on1 - Blaine Graboyes - GameCo is bringing esports to casinos & cruise ships

1on1 - Blaine Graboyes - GameCo is bringing esports to casinos & cruise ships

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Following ESIC (that’s the Esports Integrity Coalition) announcing its latest member in the form of skilled video game machine supplier GameCo, we caught up with GameCo Founder Blaine Graboyes.

GameCo’s VGMs entered casinos in the States late last year in venues such as Caesar’s and Harrah’s. We discussed ESIC membership, injecting a new life in land based casinos, Terminator 2 and cruise ships.

Totally Gaming: What does being a member of ESIC offer GameCo?

Blaine Graboyes: As the leader in video game gambling, GameCo was interested in becoming a member of ESIC even if we don’t directly conduct esports events that would support (or encourage) wagering.

GameCo intends to be a thought leader in the convergence of esports and casinos and ESIC is playing a critical role ensuring integrity around this space. As a member of ESIC, GameCo will support ESIC's mission and activities in educating esports players and venues in the importance of integrity in competition and wagering as well as provide support in awareness for ESIC in general.

GameCo also operates an esports subsidiary, The Gamer Agency - so we’re very involved in the esports tournament and production space. We’re also working to make The Gamer Agency a member of ESIC.

TG: How long was this in the discussion stages and what are the requirements to join ESIC's hallowed halls?

Graboyes: We’ve been aware of and communicating with ESIC for about a year now.

Ian Smith, ESIC’s Commissioner, and I see each other often at industry events. At GDC 2016, I met with Ian and expressed an interest in joining ESIC for both GameCo and The Gamer Agency. Over the next few months we sketched out how our company’s could be involved and make a meaningful contribution to ESIC’s efforts.

Ultimately, GameCo became a member of ESIC and paid a membership fee to be part of the organisation. Today, GameCo is collaborating with ESIC on activating our membership and taking a leadership role in the organisation.

TG: Have you had much feedback on the casinos with VGMs out on their floors?

Graboyes: Yes - GameCo’s Video Game Gambling Machines (VGM™) has been live in Atlantic City since November 2016 with 30 positions across Harrah’s, Bally’s, Caesars, and Tropicana.

We’re learning at light speed - I often compare it to the “memory download” scenes in the Matrix. On Friday and Saturday nights we staff GameCo Brand Ambassadors at the casinos to help new players get into the games but also to collect direct feedback from customers.

Key learnings include the scope of the audience for skill-based games (it’s not just Millennials but also Gen-X, Boomers, and even older players) and the importance of marketing to attract a new audience to the casino. A majority of players to date have been under 40 years old, which is great for the casinos’ goals to bring in a younger audience. And we’ve seen that skill-based games can meet or beat floor averages, as long as the right players are there.

We’re taking in all this data and making quick improvements to the games and applying learnings to new games. It’s great having this real world feedback and metrics.

TG: Ambitions for 2017?

Graboyes: This year is going to be massive for GameCo. We’ve already proven that we can move very quickly in a regulated industry. In only our first year (from November 2015 to November 2016) we went from concept to prototype to product to user testing and compliance approval and launch of the first skill-based games. Our next new jurisdictions are Connecticut and Florida, with rollout across the U.S. and beyond including the goal of being live in Nevada early this year.

In 2017, we plan to release eight to ten new games with the next two new games coming in February. We will be releasing many games with licensed IP and have already announced Terminator 2 and Mission Impossible II, with many more announcements coming soon. GameCo will be releasing a Tournament and Leaderboard system that allows for multiplayer competition and for players to win prizes for their performance, bringing an experience similar to esports to the casino floor.

We’re also working on bar top units of our games. And we’re starting to build our business internationally with plans to expand soon into Asia, South America, Europe, and cruise ships too.

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