Insight - Martin Wachter on the international appeal of virtual sports
Insight - Martin Wachter on the international appeal of virtual sports
On the back of virtual sports developer Golden Race securing a Class 4 Malta Licence, TotallyGaming.com caught up with the firm's CEO Martin Wachter to ask why the virtual product is booming at the moment.
Totally Gaming: Virtual sports have really taken off in Africa - what do you think is the appeal of the product in this region?
Martin Wachter: There are many reasons why the African virtual market is booming – there is a huge and growing demand for services, an inherent, cultural love of sports, and of course the sheer volume of people. The biggest appeal of virtual sports there is that they provide so much variety and opportunity which otherwise does not exist, and a platform for players to bet fairly. For operators, Virtuals represent a real potential for increased profits and complete manageability. The improved infrastructure and accessibility to proven, profitable, engaging, and enjoyable betting products naturally drives their growth there.
Our 3D Virtual Football is the most popular product there by far, with more than 90% of shops in Nigeria, and more than 80% in all of Africa using our football solution. We are so successful because our product is extremely flexible, lightweight and we provide various delivery methods while maintaining the quality of the player experience.
We use live rendering instead of pre-rendered videos meaning that internet data and hard drive use are minimal – the perfect solution for the challenges in Africa, and we offer more than 15 custom league variations with this optimized approach. We do this on an extremely low cost Android device – something that no competitor is able to do – meaning that startups have access to the same great quality product for an unbeatable price, and bigger companies can perform extremely cost-effective large scale roll-outs.
Other games aside from football are popular there, although really it depends on the market - in Zimbabwe Dog Racing is #1, in Ghana Spin 2 Win is widely used. Different countries have different tastes - Golden Race cover them all.
TG: How important is it to 'localise' the virtual product from market to market?
MW: We believe this is absolutely vital, and one of the keys to our global success. We constantly work to give the most value to all of our customers. Utilising many years of worldwide experience, we approach each market appropriately to engage and retain players, and we adapt to any local challenges that our customers may face.
We work very hard to have our products licensed, collaborating with customers to ensure that our platform meets all criteria for their region. Operators have confidence in our licensed products, and ours are certified by multiple authorities. By “localising” our products, we offer our internationally proven solutions, tailored to the specific needs of each customer.
Take again the African market - many businesses have struggled to get their expected results there because they fail to customise their products for that market. Every product and solution we provide is completely customizable, everything is white-label and ready to brand, and with the ability to tweak all odds, margins, and limits for each market and game.
We even make entirely custom version of games – leagues for example – and for our Real Fighting game, we can create whole fight arenas and environments for customers. Whatever they need, we deliver.
TG: What is the main appeal to operators about the virtual product?
MW: Operators cannot beat the value, simplicity and manageability. We also get operators up and running and meeting local demand extremely quickly – they can provide exactly what their players want, and we get them the returns they need to do so viably.
Virtual gaming allows operators to provide their players so many exciting gaming opportunities, at all hours of the day, all around the world. They can deliver real videos of real races, immersive 3D football with player-favourite teams in various formats, MMA fights in fantasy worlds, tennis, poker, roulette, keno... classics and innovative new games, all side by side, on a schedule that suits their needs.
Operators can put their colours, their logo, even their animated or video based promotional content directly into our games. Want the billboards around the premier league final showing your promotion? In real life, the cost would be entirely prohibitive for almost all companies. With virtual gaming, it´s no problem at all - for even the small guys.
TG: Your Real Fighting features real MMA champions - in which markets does MMA get watched the most?
MW: MMA is big business. It has moved from the reviled ‘human cockfighting’ image to a mainstream sport, and it is a hugely profitable industry. The UK, US, Japan, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Thailand, Ireland, The Netherlands, Poland, and South Korea all have world-class fighters and with huge followings, and it is predicted that MMA will reach the Olympics in the next decade.
MMA has massive appeal with millennials, and looking at digital media clearly shows MMA popularity. UFC Fight Night: Silva vs Bisping was the number one Twitter moment for “Sports” on February 27th this year, with 862,180,132 timeline deliveries of the #UFCLondon hashtag in 24 hours. This was well ahead of all other sporting events including the boxing event headlined by Frampton vs. Quigg, the Six Nations Rugby match of England v Ireland, and Premier League football fixtures.
Golden Race recognise this opportunity for operators and continue to lead the industry by creating the revolutionary and unique Real Fighting game. We are very happy to be ahead of the curve and able to offer this product allowing operators to cater to the popularity of MMA globally.
The final release of Real Fighting is less than two weeks away now, and we strongly recommend operators who want to stay ahead to get in touch now, because our client waiting list for it is enormous.
TG: Is football still the unifying betting product or is there more room for other virtual sports?
MW: Absolutely. Other products are very popular, but at this time our 3D Virtual Football is still the reigning King of Virtual Sports. Classic staples such as greyhound racing and keno are very profitable for our customers, but the love of the beautiful game in general is hard to beat both in and outside of the betting industry. This is one reason we do so much to allow customization and optimal delivery of this series of games. Our league is now the most played virtual soccer game in the world – delivered pre-loaded on boxes and terminals to more than 30,000 retail locations, integrated into more than 300 websites, available direct to mobile, and broadcast via multiple satellite channels across Africa.
Our product has already received one major update this year, with another major update imminent including various new camera angles created in collaboration with professional soccer cameramen to further enhance the realism of the product. We offer all major leagues in the world, with professional commentary in all major languages, and always live-rendered so that we can dynamically update new, promoted and relegated teams, badges, uniforms, statistics, and even create entire new custom leagues, using minimal internet data.
Innovation is key to everything we do, and we work to create new betting concepts, opportunities, platforms, and products, however we also pay attention to what is proven and profitable, and soccer continues to deliver the successes our customers demand.