US expansion has long been a part of our strategy. The difference between the European and United States market, however, is that the US has a very unified land-based market. Alternatively in Europe, it’s very fragmented; one game is unlikely to perform well in Germany, the UK and Italy, but across the US, we can see a game succeed in New Jersey and know it will be a hit elsewhere. Even Canada is seeing this unified content market has emerged where audiences across the country prefer the same games. For us then, the US is a known market; we’ve had land-based products in the region for over 15 years now, our slot Silver Pride, which through our partnership with Everi and Incredibe Technologies is an example of that. Once a game has launched in land-based, it then becomes a natural progression to launch these products online through partnerships like the one we have with SG Digital. However, online consists of 14% of total global gambling at the moment so it’s not yet in the position to overtake land-based. At Lightning Box, we see the two as complementary rather than competing.
On their design process
When it comes to designing a new slot machine, we use a number of key touch points like cultural references, and media that is currently popular with audiences, be that film, television or streaming. We focus on what the current trends are; if there are two popular styles of games, we may look to merge those things. As a company we are fortunate in that we are in three verticals: online, land-based and social casinos, so we see different and complimentary trends in all of these. Perhaps if we see a strong trend in one vertical, we may begin to implement it in all three. This also applies to different geographies. Online really took off in Europe, for instance. We have learned a lot from that and the same can be said for our US land-based and social verticals. Ultimately we pick from different trends in media, gaming verticals and geography, with the hope that we can produce around 12 games a year that excite our players.
On tentpole games
It’s more important to have products you are recognized for in the industry. When we began producing for online, a new game was a big press release, whereas now some suppliers can release four or five games a month. Our tentpole or franchise games give the company something to rely on; players know of them. Some examples include our Stellar Jackpots, of which we have six, and our two Chicken Fox games. These games allow players to have some knowledge of our brand upon entry; they know which elements of our games they already like. It’s similar to the film industry. Sequels to successful films are bankable products since they already have an audience, and likewise our tentpole games are equally important, allowing us to cut through all the noise of the dozens of games released a month.
On working during a pandemic
During this time you begin to realise how important the ad hoc meetings around the office are and how tough it is to replace them. It’s also a challenge to miss gatherings like the recent NIGA show in Las Vegas, where we can show off our latest ideas and products.
But platforms like Zoom have been so important in allowing us to continue to develop. We set up innovation meetings over video calls to allow our staff to really get working on their ideas. The pandemic has also accelerated online adoption, especially in our industry.