Per Eriksson - NetEnt - iGaming Rock Stars
Per Eriksson - NetEnt - iGaming Rock Stars
Per Eriksson is CEO of NetEnt, a company which has signed some major deals in 2016 and been very rock’n’roll. On the first working day of the year we look back at the 12 months gone by from their point of view as well as making predictions and looking ahead to the next.
Totally Gaming: What was the feedback from the NetEnt Rocks Tour, and why did you go down this rock n roll route for branding?
Per Eriksson: Branded games are important for our customers as they attract new and retain current players. Having created and established a reputation for producing the most unique and epic titles, we wanted to see if we could out-do even ourselves and take this up a level.
And that is exactly what we did in 2016 by creating a trilogy and packaging it as a classic rock n roll tour.
The NetEnt Rocks Tour include Guns N’ Roses, Jimi Hendrix and Motörhead, some of the biggest rocks acts in history. It was an honour, not to mention a massive responsibility, to bring them to life in a series of slots games.
It also marked a change in direction, and a fresh approach within igaming. If you are going to break new ground, you must make a statement. Guns N’ Roses involved an unprecedented level of development, with a dedicated production team almost twice as large as any previous NetEnt game production.
The result was our most successful game launch ever. As well as being a megahit with players across Europe and in New Jersey, it has received industry recognition and awards.
As we celebrated 20 years of driving the industry, this was truly the year that NetEnt rocked!
TG: How was 2016 for business growth?
Eriksson: NetEnt has significantly grown its market reach, customer base, and product offering in the last 12 months. Furthermore, our games continue to gain popularity among players, which is driving considerable transactional growth for NetEnt and our partners.
As we see the pace of re-regulation in Europe picking up – we expect about 50% of the market to be regulated in 2018 – NetEnt continues working with its growth strategy to be well positioned for this. In just the second half of this year, NetEnt has announced its expansion into a number of new regulated online gaming markets. We entered Portugal with Betclic, our games went live in Bulgaria with National Lottery Bulgaria, and we also entered Romania with several customers. However, one of the biggest milestones in H2 was entering Mexico, where we took the first step into a regulated market in Latin America together with our customer Codere.
NetEnt also continues to gain ground and monitor the developments in North America. In April, a selection of our games went live online with Tropicana Casino in New Jersey, while we are actively preparing our entry into Canada.
The gap between land based and online gaming is decreasing and we are contributing to this trend by providing a multichannel offering to our partners. We partnered with Gauselmann Group earlier this year which will allow us to distribute gaming content to the land based Italian market. The partnership is one of a growing number we enjoy with the retail market, including the contract with Paddy Power in the UK, which will see us deliver an omni-channel offering that we can continue to build on and diversify.
TG: You signed a major deal with Rank in 2016 - how key was this one?
Eriksson: The Rank Group is one of the largest gaming companies in Europe, with a substantial footprint in the UK, and firmly a tier one customer for NetEnt.
The agreement sealed with Rank helps us to further build on our position in the UK, where we are growing rapidly. As Europe’s biggest and most mature market, the UK is of huge strategic importance to NetEnt. We have clear long-term objectives and are planning to continue to build our presence significantly during 2017 and beyond.
TG: How big a part will VR play in 2017 or is it too early for it to make a major impact?
Eriksson: VR, AR, ER, and MR are all technologies in their early stages. We see there is a lot happening and we are closely following the penetration and its development. There is no doubt that these technologies have the potential to influence many different industries in an endless amount of ways. I strongly believe they will have a transformative impact on the gaming industry, and NetEnt will be there to lead the way in its delivery.
Since we were founded 20 years ago, NetEnt has always been committed to driving the online gaming market. We always sit at the forefront of innovation and new technologies, and as early adopters we have already started to work and explore the potential of these technologies for the online casino industry.
At ICE 2016, we presented our first ideas, developments and a proof of concept within VR, and are excited to be showing at ICE 2017 where our next steps are taking us to.
TG: What else can we expect from the NetEnt team in 2017?
Eriksson: We look forward to another year of substantial development in 2017 and our stand at ICE will be the platform for us to show this to the industry.
There will be the chance to see and experience the latest innovations, straight from our development labs. As well as our exciting VR presentation, we will be exhibiting our latest live casino offering. We have committed a huge amount of time and resource to developing our product and have taken it to a whole new level with an incredible mobile live casino experience that is the most immersive and realistic yet on the market.
We will also be launching the first deliverables from NetEnt Engage™, a suite of connected products that will help operators in the pursuit of player engagement. We have always maintained a philosophy of working together with our customers to boost engagement, and Engage will help engender the maximum levels of player loyalty and retention.
Finally, this year for the first time ever at ICE, we will present not one but two branded game unveilings. As a firmly established tradition, we can’t wait to attract another big crowd with a second game announcement on day two of the show.
With so many developments taking place, we will be sharing lots of exciting news throughout 2017 – stay tuned!