How Habanero is breaking the ICE in new regions

How Habanero is breaking the ICE in new regions

Monday, February 22, 2016 Totally Gaming
Daniel Long said the operator is considering new licensing opportunities

Habanero's head of Asian operations, Daniel Long, discusses growth opportunities in emerging markets, and how the content and systems developer is exploring new leads thanks to a successful first year as an exhibitor at ICE Totally Gaming... 

TotallyGaming.com: You were an exhibitor at ICE for the first time this year: how successful was the experience for you?

Daniel Long: "We had a great time at ICE and would certainly recommend it. The whole world is there and it’s the perfect place to catch up with clients and do business. We were very confident about our content when we arrived, and have certainly enjoyed real success with it so far, particularly in Asia. 

"We had a superb display of many different games on 24 concurrently running mobile devices, which allowed us to demonstrate not only simultaneous but robust mobile capability. Very few exhibitors appeared to take the approach of showing what mobile is truly capable of when the limits of technology are pushed. The one finger interface was very easy to use and easily switchable from landscape to portrait, utilising the full real estate of the screen. We certainly have some great new business leads to go through in the coming weeks."

TG: You are most associated with Asia, but you seem to have ambitions to grow in other regions?

DL: "We have certainly gained a lot of traction in Asia in recent months, partnering with a number of big operators and platform providers there. What took us pleasantly by surprise were the number of enquiries we had at ICE and in the days that followed from casino brands in Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere.

"I think our success in Asia highlights our ability to tailor our games to individual audiences. That’s not just game themes, but the maths models and game mechanics, which vary from territory to territory. Other factors like immersive graphics and sounds are universal requirements on all devices and operating systems for the modern player.

"As a result of all the interest, we’re now in the process of assessing our licensing options in various territories and are hoping to have some positive news very shortly."

TG: Habanero highlights its local knowledge in Asia - how can a company successfully move into a different continent without that local knowledge?

DL: "Local knowledge is key not only to Asia but in every market in which suppliers and operators ply their trade. A lot of games will have cross-border appeal and be enjoyed in multiple territories, as we’ve seen with some branded games, for instance. But it’s crucial to understand cultural nuances and provide content that local audiences like to play. As a society, and as technology develops, we’re becoming more and more accustomed to picking what we want rather than what’s available.

"Some companies think they can stick a few dragons on a game or some Chinese and it’s ready for the Asian market. But there is far more to it than that. Our approach has always been different at Habanero. We prefer to have people on the ground who talk to our clients, who understand what makes local players tick. That’s why we have offices in Johannesburg, Manila, Sofia and Kiev. We will continue to carry that localisation strategy forward as new markets open up for us."

TG: What do you consider to be the major emerging markets for the industry? 

DL: "Both Latin America and Africa have huge potential and are certainly on our radar. In terms of regulation, it’s difficult to give a single answer. Like Europe and Asia it is a patchwork quilt with country-specific legal frameworks. A number of countries have regulated, however, and many more are either in the process of doing so or thinking about it.

"We’ve seen from the land-based industry in parts of Latin America that slots are very popular, and I see no reason why the same wouldn’t be the case in Africa. For operators and suppliers to be successful in these areas they need to appreciate the subtleties of individual markets rather than adopting a one-size fits all strategy. Mobile penetration will be key on both continents, as will software with a proven track record of being robust."

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