Global Gaming head of casino Dirk Camilleri explains why a focus on overall player experience can be just as crucial in developing a successful casino offering as the quality of the games on offer – and why a focus on bonuses and promotions will be unsustainable in the long-term.
What recent game releases have performed particularly well for Ninja Casino?
Over the last couple of months, game releases from different suppliers have increased quite significantly. Studios have been releasing new titles up to twice a month, so a few games have been launched recently, however a game which stood out with our players is Book Of Oz by MicroGaming. What the players have been attracted to is the Respin functionality, allowing them to spin individual reels to line up a winning combination. Wild Falls from Play’n’Go has also been performing well.
Both slots are quite volatile and a trend we’ve observed is that players seem to be seeking more games which have the potential to pay big but less often.
Are there particular suppliers that consistently outperform others?
That really depends on the market but yes, some studios perform considerably better than others. Particularly in Sweden, the NetEnt and Play’n’Go portfolio performs considerably better for us. This also includes new releases, which are well received by players, confirming that certain suppliers consistently outperform others.
Our relationship with suppliers is key. Our goal is to build a strong collaboration, allowing us to come up with the best ways to promote games which appeal to our players.
Have you found that older titles, such as Starburst or Book of Dead, have continued to outperform newer releases? Does this make it difficult to innovate or successfully launch new titles?
With the number of existing game studios and constant releases, there is certainly no shortage of content. A lot of studios have been producing high-quality releases with new mechanics and features, yet they tend to fade after a while. There should be more focus on the player experience, the emotions conveyed in the games and engagement. Big Time Gaming has been doing very well for us with Bonanza and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Their early success can somehow be attributed to video streamers displaying their wins, piquing players’ curiosity and eagerness to try the games themselves. So, absolutely, there is room for innovation and new leading studios to be formed.
Offering what is essentially a 'stripped back' version of other online casino sites, how does this affect your content strategy, in terms of which games to promote?
Ninjas Casino’s success shows that users are not necessarily after the largest selection of games but rather the overall experience. In-depth analysis is carried out by the casino team to select games which appeal to our player base and are of interest, meaning we have to be more selective than others on what to promote.
In the near future, as part of the content strategy, we will be looking to expand our existing portfolio with more suppliers, which would be of interest to our players.
Does the stripped-down approach extend to content – for example, do you shy away from feature-rich games?
Not necessarily. It’s rather a matter of having a good understanding of what the players are looking for and an extensive knowledge of the markets one operates in.
The incorporation of features is part of the excitement and thrill players seek in the games. A number of criteria are taken into consideration when selecting such content. Understanding the game mechanics and features offered as well as knowing what our players will be interested in is part of our strategy when selecting the positioning and promotion of such content.
How important are exclusive titles to Ninja Casino? Do you feel they attract players, or do you feel it's more important to offer players games they know and enjoy already?
From an acquisition point of view, players tend to look for content which they are familiar with. We already provide some of the old titles, which players have been exposed to before. Going forward, the plan is to keep expanding on that and offer our customers more games they can enjoy.
Exclusive content certainly provides the ability to offer something which is unique and distinct to other casinos and something which can create unique value. Last November, we took the first step in that direction by launching our own exclusive tables in a dedicated live casino environment. This provides us with a platform that enables us to customize the customer experience for our players, something which is quite valuable. So, yes, exclusivity and uniqueness are something which we will continue to work on in the coming future.
Without offering bonuses and promotions, what's your strategy for acquiring players? Do you feel this differs from peers in the industry?
We believe that one cannot really have a great product and subsequent user experience focus if they need to constantly resort to discounting and aggressive direct marketing pull strategies. Our focus is on providing a great user experience to our customers with quick withdrawals and a smooth onboarding, and our marketing aligns with that. One of the key elements is that we haven’t pushed welcome bonuses in the past but rely more on breaking through the monotony of advertising with our fun and fast ninja mascot.
Looking to the year ahead, what do you feel will be the key challenges facing online casino operators?
New compliance standards have been driving constant changes in regulated markets, and this is likely to continue bringing about more changes for casino operators. With the Swedish market being newly regulated, I am sure a number of clarifications and guidelines are likely to be issued in the coming months of what is expected from operators, which will result in operators having to make product changes.
Our current focus at Ninja Casino is to adjust our product in line with the Swedish re-regulation, as well as – in a scalable manner – being able to apply it to other relevant markets. What is absolutely clear to us is that we will keep striving to deliver innovative, quality entertainment in a safe environment.