Quickspin still singing an independent tune

Quickspin still singing an independent tune

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 Posted by Sam Cooke
Playtech buyout has no effect on developer’s innovative plans

One of the co-founders of Stockholm-based games developer Quickspin says that new owners Playtech have not changed the essential workings of the company since it acquired the business last year and that the company continues to execute the same strategy as before the buyout.

Quickspin was snapped up by Playtech in May for an initial sum of €24m with a potential earnout of a further €26m slated to be paid out this year and next based on a multiple of the company’s earnings in 2018.

Joachim Timmermans, co-founder and new chief product officer at Quickspin, told TotallyGaming.com the new owners had not insisted on the company pursuing any new strategy or roadmap. “In Playtech we have found a big brother keen to learn from our failures and successes in a market where they haven’t been present historically.

“At the same time, they offer us a lot of insights and know-how in markets and technologies where we have not been very prevalent ourselves. It’s been a win-win situation for both parties so far.”

Along with co-founders Daniel Lindberg and Mats Westerlund, currently chief executive and chief commercial officer at Quickspin, Timmermans will stay on at the company until the earnout is hit.

At the time of the acquisition, the company said it provided over 20 original games titles to 40-plus clients. Giving a hint as to the pressures that affected the business when it was a standalone entity, Timmermans said that scale was certainly an issue when it came to business survival.

“With the increased pressures on margin due to taxation, and the uncertainty of future revenues of certain markets, it’s important to have the scale to survive any unforeseen developments,” he said. “At the same time, the competition is getting a lot fiercer, requiring a larger organisation to meet the demands of the operators and players.”

Those demands are certainly on the increase. The slots business is a vital element in online gaming. Indeed, in the UK, according to the last set of net gaming revenue figures from the Gambling Commission, it is by far the largest product, worth £1.75bn compared to £1.74bn for total sports-betting.

Of course, being in Stockholm, Quickspin is also nestled within a market which is similarly – if not more – slots-based and where the market infrastructure in terms of personnel and technology is already in place. Timmermans indeed acknowledges the work that has previously been done previously by the likes of Net Ent in the supply market and Unibet and Betsson (and before them Expekt) in forging a path for slots. “They educated their players that slots, and more specifically the Scandinavian-style slots, are the best way to enjoy online gambling. Players agreed, and the clear majority of any casino’s revenues now derives from slots as a direct result.”

Despite the evident success of slots in many markets, Timmermans acknowledges the questions raised with regard to innovation – or the lack of it – within the slots market. “We’ve upped our game development from six to nine innovative games this year to really push the envelope. That may be a bold move in a market oversaturated by slots, in which producing quality content has become a hygiene factor and operators now care more about relevant and easy-to-use gamification tools. But our goals is to buck the trend and exceed operator expectations.”

One technological move the company has made within the last 12 months was to transition from developing in Flash to HTML but he doesn’t foresee any specific moves with regard to new technology in the year ahead. “I’d much prefer technology to remain stable for a while,” he admits. “To avoid sleepless nights, I’d like to not consider new technologies for now.”

He is refreshingly open, however, when he talks about what the competition are doing to move the basic slot product forward, giving special mention to the work being done by Yggdrasil to push for implementation by its operators of innovative tools.

“We have built very similar functionality, but the aspect of network-wide tournaments where operators automatically take part in has allowed them to push themselves into the marketing offer with something that gives value to both players and operators. We respect that, and will improve on it ourselves.”

Totally Gaming says: Differentiation in the slots market – how to achieve it and how to sell it to the public – is a lively area of debate within the online sector right now. On one level, the drive to consolidation – both in terms of operators and suppliers – won’t help matters. But the fear of being left behind in a market that is so important in terms of revenue will surely be a driver of innovation and Playtech acquisition of Quickspin suggests they see this as a route to the same.

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