QTech Games CEO Jonas Alm: The challenges and complexities of the Asian market

QTech Games CEO Jonas Alm: The challenges and complexities of the Asian market

Wednesday, August 29, 2018 Posted by Joseph Streeter
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For the igaming sector, the Asian market is one that presents vast opportunity for growth and expansion, very few know this more than online gaming distributor QTech.

TotallyGaming caught up with  QTech Games CEO Jonas Alm, who analysed the Asian market and how QTech has built such a successful footprint in the region.

What are the secrets to success that have made QTech Games the fastest-growing igaming distributor in Asia?

There’s no secret sadly. Just a lot of air miles, a talented team, a flexible strategy - and the unfashionable one too, I’m afraid, hard work. But it’s fantastic validation of our collective efforts at QTech Games that there’s now some substance to our mission statement to become the largest distributor of digital entertainment in Asia over the next few years.

But for all the complexity, our goal is simple: to gather the best online (RNG) games on the market and distribute them to operators all across Asia. Naturally, Asia’s huge population and innate diversity provides igaming operators and suppliers with no shortage of opportunities and challenges. It’s often a gift but occasionally a curse. Through these sometimes dense, winding woods of regulation and cultural appetite, it’s all about finding a workable path. Indeed, Asia’s fragmentation for game design and regional specificities (be they the result of player preference or legislative requirements) recommends the importance of supplying a precise gaming portfolio at every turn, and in every country.

Which games are proving popular with Asian players at this moment?

At QTech Games, we’ve been majoring in RNG slots. But such is the ever-expanding breadth of taste and sheer volume or games, it’s a matter not only balancing quality with quantity but also sifting through that quality to define the desirable games in any given territory.

Smartphone-adoption rates continue to rise rapidly over this great continent, and this tide is only running one way. For example, baccarat may be the hardy Asian favourite, but mahjong is distinctly China’s game of choice. On the other hand, pachinko parlours are rife in Japanese cityscapes. So it’s vital to combine the very best of the RNG and live casino worlds, too. Watch out for more game innovation in the latter space.

How have you sought to tackle these challenges of supply and demand?

When your platform operates the widest portfolio of online games in Asia, the challenge is to refine and apportion this varied content, so that it invariably finds a happy home and audience. Which is why, earlier this year, QTech Games launched an industry-first, cross provider game-recommendation app in QT Play. Human hunches have been rendered obsolete by the rise of machine-learning software. Just look at the way Spotify can conjure a playlist that speaks to your preferred artists, genres and rhythms – often better than your own instincts can.

QT Play follows suit, with its unique recommendation engine doing the hard work for our partners and their players. In fact, its prediction logic is powered by a similar automated-curation model, distilling users habits, identifying their favourite games, and recommending others which will likely prove up their alley for format, content and inherent playability.

But what about when it comes to territories that are newly-regulating, or yet to regulate like India?

QT Play’s capacity to parcellate pan-Asian variety and rank it according to user choice or respective market conditions keeps QT Games’ leading distribution model in the vanguard, no matter which territory providers are targeting. However, having just returned from an extensive field trip in India, I would, of course, concede that the gaming and regulatory landscape there has yet to show its hand when it comes to gambling and legislation.

India’s online sector has welcomed a raft of acquisitions of late, as operators plant their flags in the sand before the anticipated explosion. Ultimately, the relevant authorities will come to understand that the best way to eradicate illegal gambling is always to legalise responsible gambling.

What has India got so many people talking, and what are the other territories of interest in Asia?

Without wishing to make this a state-the-obvious competition, you can’t look beyond its sheer size for a clear nod to the untapped potential there. India’s population of 1.3 billion is presently expanding more rapidly than any other country. The World Bank also expects its economy to be the fastest-developing by the end of the year, and nearly 90% of this keen gambling nation now has access to 4G. Those internet costs are only dropping, even in the backwaters.

While the advanced mobile systems (whose interfaces can configure games in compelling ways, be they designated as RNG or “skill”, like Omaha and Texas Hold’em poker) are only going to become more affordable, too. Elsewhere, it’s easy to forget about Russia, for equally glaring reasons! The magnitude and scope of the market matches the accompanying appeal. So the challenge is to provide an intuitive, easy-to-integrate platform whose games scale and respond to the multiplicity of demand in these waking-giant countries.   

It seems that everyone’s talking about eSports in Asia? How big can you see this vertical becoming?

The rise and rise of eSports may have started in Asia, but rest assured: it is not an Asian phenomenon. It is a global one. Although eSports is unlikely to become a demonstration event at the next Olympics in Tokyo, the 2024 renewal in Paris remains a realistic goal. This attention alone recommends its worldwide potential. In recognition of this, QTech Games recently integrated Betradar’s full-stack product portfolio, featuring eSports and an extensive data suite.

The number of digital media companies now looking to acquire deep daily data on eSports is ramping, so we were keen to employ Betradar’s trusted content services to unlock this power for our customers across Asia. Indeed, our combined credentials for distribution and deep data (via leading APIs) in the digital media space will soon be second to none. This is essential in eSports where in-vogue games can rise and fall like the sun. Players progressively operate at the intersection of Augmented Reality and competitive audio-visual content – and eSports has accordingly set its scene in the mobile domain. So, with smartphone penetration even higher in Asia than Europe, a mobile-first strategy is a must.

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