It’s about slots and niche games, CEO – MT of Air Dice Real Money Casino Games Studio tells Ramona Depares.
“A leading developer of highly entertaining money games, combining new content and visual excellence with the traditional thrill of money gaming.”
That’s quite a promise to live up to, and for this interview with MT CEO Victor Borg Barthet I have every intention of calling him out on it. With so many licensed game providers on the scene, pitching for the same pool of operators (and players), can anyone say that they’re really bringing something new to the market?
And that’s exactly the question I put to Victor, from the start. What makes Air Dice different? Far from being annoyed, he chuckles.
“We do more than the traditional product. We do traditional slots, actually now even more with the takeover of the Probability Jones Studio, but we do focus on exploring games in which player choice and player strategy influence the game outcomes. We are growing in this field and we are now testing these in new markets,” he says.
So what makes Air Dice ‘better’ than, say NetEnt, or any of the other big players? The reply is to the point.
“We have great respect for all competitors, big or small. Of course, being big, gives you a huge disadvantage in terms of distribution and partnerships but not necessarily product quality. Just take Red Tiger, a small studio that had a huge impact on big player Net Ent/Evolution! Our goal is to focus on quality and building the right partnerships to take our games and totally in-house team of devs+design+maths people to a new level! It’s an exciting journey!” Victor says.
“Air Dice is also different because we keep challenging the way things are done and we are constantly trying to come up with new mechanics and concepts. That is, we keep questioning, both mechanics, and player experience. Also, we are open to new perspectives, for example, we recently enrolled a full team, of fresh graduates, from a Helsinki design/tech school and gave them a ‘blank canvas’ to create whichever game/mechanics they like or believe in! I literally, can’t wait to see what these kids come up with!”
Where does this leave Air Dice and other smaller companies? In Victor’s own words, the market loves an underdog. He quotes the BigTime Gaming and NoLimit City game studios as an example, describing their approach as “edgy”. He then added:
“Other pioneers in this space like Green Jade are also tapping into new types of players. That said, in tandem, if you had to ask providers about the type of player they’re targeting, many are unclear about it. Many a times product teams are very cut off from the data that relates to players. We are very different in this respect.”
Victor explains, adding that all indications are that skill-based games and eSports are both growing exponentially.
“It is a very interesting time for the industry and, quite frankly, the more you think you know the more likely you are to be surprised. This is what makes the iGaming industry fun. I’d never have imagined that someone who plays Starcraft for a living can actually call themselves an athlete by profession,” he says with a smile.
This approach, he believes, allows companies to target specific niches and, sometimes, you have a winner. I change the topic from product to tech – how is the technological side of things evolving?
“Let’s put it this way – as soon as the legislator comes up with something new and difficult to handle, you can be sure that there is someone out there who will develop a good solution to make it easier. For example, if you look at responsible gaming, you need to have the systems in place that allow you to profile people’s behaviour – so, machine learning and AI technology is of utmost importance,” Victor says.
Of course, Victor has pretty much seen it all having been part of the industry for over a decade (we agree not to obsess about exactly how much time has passed). Having joined iGaming after a career in IT, he is now taking Air Dice to new heights together with Conrad Butti leading Global Marketing+Sales. Recently, the company opened new studios in the UK and Finland.
“You do need to go to different countries to get different expertise on content and ‘influences’. And because our products are a little bit different, there’s a lot of testing and research involved.”
Reality, he adds, is that you can’t always know how products are going to perform all the time. As he puts it, you can’t go in guns blazing and expect amazing results. But he’s happy that, at least, Air Dice is asking the right questions – “compared to some of our competitors,” he adds with a touch of good-natured cheek.
“I got a healthy education from the industry. It’s the kind of work I’m always happy to wake up to,” he concludes.
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