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Building on igaming success: Boldplay’s winning formula

| By iGB Editorial Team | Reading Time: 8 minutes
Becoming a household name is no easy task, particularly in the igaming industry. Sometimes, as a games provider, you have to be daring with your strategies to stand out in the sea of slot titles and casino games. For Boldplay founder and chief executive officer Valli Fragoso, these last 12 months have been spent finding new ways to expand its brand presence on the global stage.

If you were to search how many companies there now are in the igaming industry, answers can range substantially. But one thing is for certain, the industry is filled with brands that are all looking to bring something new to the table.

The challenge that many of these brands are facing, however, is standing out from the crowd. This is an issue that has been particularly pertinent for game developers – not only are they competing with the huge number of other studios that exist, but they’re up against competitors who collectively release hundreds, if not thousands, of new titles each month.

One such route that developers can take to stand out is to purely increase the volume of titles that they release, receiving brand awareness as a result of flooding the market with titles. The other strategy that some choose is to focus on the quality of their games; this involves focusing on game design and the development of new mechanics.

But is it possible to focus on both quality and quantity? According to Valli that is exactly what Boldplay has done in 2023 – and the results speak for themselves. In fact, 2023 was a milestone year for the company.

Producing at speed without sacrificing content quality

With four years of experience under its belt, Boldplay took the opportunity in 2023 to make a number of new additions to its product line-up, as well as improvements to its existing distribution strategy.

For a “relatively small team”, it appears that Boldplay is making a considerable amount of noise in the game development space. Valli says, “Our staff are all highly experienced and their talent and industry know-how have been key to us expanding to a point where we’re now able to boast over 100+ unique games in our line-up as we head into 2024.

“Since our inception, the strategy has always been to focus on speed to market without sacrificing the quality or quantity of our games, and our ability to integrate quickly with operators has been key to us achieving our goals.

“This has only been possible due to the solid foundations we laid in our early years, when we developed our own proprietary software to ensure that we weren’t reliant on a parent studio.”

Adapting to a changing regulatory landscape

A focus on quality and quantity of games in 2023 has meant that Boldplay has been able to diversify its portfolio, with bingo, slots, table games and virtual scratch cards all making the cut.

Diversification can be a great way of ensuring that you’re catering to as many players as possible, but this wasn’t the only take away from the last 12 months. As has been the case for many across the industry, the topic of regulation and licensing dominated many of the discussions taking place at Boldplay HQ.

Over the course of the last year, we’ve seen a whole host of new markets regulate igaming. But we have also seen some more ‘mature’ markets tighten their grip on the sector, with the introduction of more stringent licensing conditions.

Receiving licensed status to ensure player awareness

The changes in regulation may seem like yet another challenge to adapt to, but as Valli explains, receiving a licence ultimately builds trust with operators within that market. Operator trust can ‘make or break’ game success; ultimately, without that licence, it would be impossible to roll out your games to players.

“I’d say the company’s biggest challenge and key learning from 2023 both relate to the difficulties of entering regulated markets due to stringent licensing requirements and helping our product stand out in what are often highly saturated markets”, she continues.

“While we’re always looking to raise the profile of Boldplay in as many regulated markets as possible, our business decisions on which ones to enter are always based on customer interest and the cost and time to obtain the licence. The markets we are in are all ones that we felt had a real appetite for our games, so we believed obtaining appropriate certification in them would be to the long-term benefit of the company.

“For this reason, we always think long and hard about the markets we want to target to ensure the licences that we obtain will give us the highest possible benefit in terms of both brand awareness and revenue – and we’ll continue to apply this process as we look to expand further in 2024.”

Increased popularity of titles: Boldplay’s record year

Adapting to new market conditions can present its own sets of challenges, but the pay-off has clearly been worth it, according to Valli. Looking at Boldplay’s numbers for the year, 2023 recorded an “incredible uptick in popularity” for the games within the developer’s roster, but there were two particular games that lead Boldplay to a record year: Brute Force and Speed Heist.

Brute Force, released in November 2023, draws inspiration from mixed martial arts but with an anthropomorphic twist; players are invited to take to the ring and fight for the championship belt, with symbols consisting of “apex predators and pugilistic pandas”.

Meanwhile the August-released Speed Heist, as you might guess from the name, was heavily influenced by getaway movies and the thrill of the chase. “Both of these games significantly outperformed our expectations and the feedback that we’ve had so far indicates that they clearly struck a chord with customers. When discussing the games, one of the key words that kept coming up was “relatability” and this has always been a key indicator for the success of any product, as if customers don’t buy into what you’re selling, it won’t hold their attention for the long term.”

For Valli, this success hasn’t just been measured by the end of year commercial figures, but it has been evident in the feedback that Boldplay has received from players too, adding “Our customer research also indicated that players found both titles highly entertaining, which is always very rewarding for us to hear as a developer.

“While we obviously want our games to be as commercially successful as possible, the fact that customers are also having a lot of fun while playing them is vitally important to us, as over time this is what drives sustained engagement and leads to the two things ultimately going hand-in-hand.”

Adapting success for future strategies

So, will the success of Boldplay’s games in 2023 shape its development process over the next year? The answer isn’t a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, Valli explains. Instead, you must look more in-depth at the different player demographics and markets before deciding whether a game concept will make it through the development pipeline.

The way that Boldplay analyses these different factors is by using its proprietary software, which offers the firm a “strong suite of tools that can be used to deliver much-needed KPIs and data” which can then be used to inform future development decisions and deliver a more personalised experience.

Valli says, “Using these tools, we can deep dive into the data from different markets and player demographics to tailor our offering for specific audiences, thereby optimising the expected performance of our future releases. Once we have these fundamentals in place, it’s simply a question of landing on a concept that we think is likely to resonate with players in the market we’re targeting.

“To do this, we generally look back at games that have been successful in the past – both from us and from other providers – and either find a way to put a new spin on a concept that has already proven popular or identify a gap that is not currently being filled.

“This way, we can offer a complete portfolio that will allow us to enter new markets without customers feeling that something is missing from our line-up.”

Aggregator integration for more diversified content

Entering more regulated markets may have been the biggest challenge for operators in 2023. But something which has eased that regulatory headache, somewhat, is the decision to partner with an aggregation platform.

Using an aggregator can place added pressure on gaming developers to boost brand exposure. After all, there are several other titles to choose from on an aggregator platform, with so much choice it’s hard to pick just one game to play. But this small hurdle hasn’t deterred Boldplay.

Valli explains, “When third-party integrations took precedence in 2013 and casinos began to integrate with aggregators and game studios, it looked like an easy win for software developers – however, the reality is that with hundreds of studios a decade later, competing for operators’ attentions, it’s become an increasingly difficult task to keep up with the competition and make your offering look appealing.

“Though it’s a daunting challenge, it’s one that I think we’ve managed to overcome quite effectively by leaning into our company’s main strengths; that is to say, our ability to develop quality games at speed and move quickly with integrating them into operators’ existing portfolios.

“By offering our partners fast and easy access to a diverse range of unique titles, we’ve managed to successfully tackle the difficulties of differentiating ourselves from other developers in the market and this has enabled us to end the year on a positive note.”

Aligning brand vision for a strategic aggregator partnership

In 2023 alone, Boldplay secured a handful of partnerships with aggregation platforms, which have enabled the games developer to expand its reach on an international scale.

For Boldplay, the key to a successful partnership with an aggregator is to find a platform which aligns with your brand aims and values. When securing agreements with top-tier aggregators , Valli wasn’t just looking for a partnership which looked good on paper. Instead, she was looking for something a bit more “strategic”.

“Partnering with a top-tier aggregator is always beneficial for a company like Boldplay, as it’s an established and streamlined way to secure increased distribution for your titles. While we also have the advantage of being able to integrate directly wherever we identify a strategic partnership – and we did indeed do so with some notable big-name brands last year – many of which are industry leading platforms when it comes to providing game distribution all over the globe, particularly in regulated markets.”

Making your titles available via an aggregator isn’t just good for brand exposure, but it can also expedite the process of taking your titles live in a particular market.

Ultimately, Boldplay wants to make its games available to as wide an audience as possible, and as soon as possible too.  Partnering with an aggregator has helped remove the administrative burden for both Boldplay and its operator partners by making use of their distribution routes .

Valli was keen to emphasise that Boldplay doesn’t solely rely on aggregation but did note that this can be an effective tool in the company’s toolbox.

“Most operators these days typically have around 70-80 direct integrations, which ultimately becomes quite cumbersome to maintain” Valli adds. “While we like the fact that at Boldplay we make both options available to the operators, taking the aggregation route is often a lot less hassle on the operator’s side, so sharing titles via trusted aggregators  is a big advantage.”

Letting quality content speak for itself: Boldplay’s future plans

Entering into the fifth year of Boldplay, this experience has no doubt prepared the game developer for the challenges that lie ahead in 2024. According to Valli, the obstacles presented by market saturation and stricter regulations won’t be going away any time soon.

But with a stellar line-up of game titles in its arsenal, Boldplay is more than ready to adapt to whatever changes present themselves.

“Right now, it looks as though the biggest challenges we’ll face in 2024 are the issues of market saturation and even stricter regulations. Though neither of these are particularly new problems in the industry, it’s going to become increasingly tougher to tackle them in a manner that allows our business to continue growing successfully.

“For the former, the level of competition among providers is undoubtedly higher than ever, so we’ll continue looking for new ways to help our games stand out from the competition and offer something genuinely unique in the market. The latter, meanwhile, will make it even more vital to acquire the licences that build the credibility of our brand and earn us the trust of the operators that we want to work with.

“I believe that not only does the quality of the Boldplay line-up speak for itself, but that we’ve already demonstrated that we have tools and know-how to overcome these challenges in the past, so no matter how things develop over the next 12 months, we’ll be ready to face things head on and continue growing.”

New, innovative product line-up

When pressed on whether Boldplay would be making any big announcements relating to any new partnerships later this year, Valli kept her cards very close to his chest, with not so much as a hint at what we might expect in 2024.

However, she did leave us with a bit of parting advice which we believe may give some insight into Boldplay’s plans for this year. “People always say if something isn’t broke, don’t fix it; so, I think it’s fair to say that operators and players should expect to see more quality games from us that live up to the high standards they’ve come to expect from the Boldplay brand.

“That being said, we’re always looking at new ways to innovate our product line-up, so we’ll continue to work tirelessly to develop new concepts that capture the public’s imagination and already have a few ground-breaking new mechanics in production that we think players are really going to love.

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