Interview with Adam Daniel, the Managing Director of Playson

Interview with Adam Daniel, the Managing Director of Playson

April 1, 2016.

Have you ever wondered how long it takes a new game to find its way to online casinos? We sure did, so we sat down with Adam Daniel, the Managing Director of Playson, one the youngest game developers in the business that is settling down in casino lobbies world-wide.

Take this opportunity to read Playson’s story, and learn more about their beautiful games and the unique bonus free spins system that they’re developing. The chances are that you’ll find a new favour­ite.    

1. Hi Adam. For starters could you please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a bit about you and the company you represent?

Hi, my name is Adam Daniel and I’m British but have lived in many countries since I left the UK in the late 80’s. I’m originally a Computer Programmer by training, on mainframes as it happens. I moved into Casino Gambling in the mid 1980’s and because of my IT background I moved over to the very early Internet Gambling Industry in the late 1990’s, and have now spent 30 years in Gaming in one form or another.

I am the Managing Director of Playson, a relatively recent entrant into the iGaming Casino Content business. Playson is part of a larger technology group with offices in several European cities.

With the breadth of talent in the group we found ourselves with the knowledge and skills to move into the iGaming Casino Content business in early 2014 and I came onboard to launch the business.

2. You’re actually quite a young company, but you already have about 250 employees. What are your plans for 2016? Is Playson going to expand further and take the lead in providing slots to online casino?

2016 is about leveraging the hard work of the previous two years and achieving the game distribution we’ve been working so hard to realise. We have spent the time since 2014 building our distribution via some of the larger Platform Providers and of course obtaining the essential regulatory approval necessary for us to operate.

European iGaming is not a fast moving market when it comes to distributing casino content for many reasons. With sales cycles that can take 12 months and regulatory approvals for new licensees that can take 6 more months. This can mean that some customers don’t put a Playson game live until 1 to 2 years after we first speak to them about our games.

Being well aware of this slow rate of product adoption Playson had a three year plan to obtain the distribution needed to push Playson games into the top Casino Lobbies in Europe, and I’m delighted to say we are well on track to achieve that goal in 2016.

3. You’re licensed and regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority, UK Gambling Commission, and Alderney Gambling Control Commission, which makes your games available to players world-wide. However, we are interested to find out what is your primary market?

That’s a great question. The quick answer is that we don’t plan to focus on any one market over and above any other. Our games will be taken into the markets that our Partners choose. Saying that, due to the wide cross section of product math and game features we offer, we have not yet seen any one market respond to our products massively more so than any other.

As I said earlier we have spent the initial two years putting the pieces in place to realise the widespread distribution that is needed to be successful in this market place. We are on the verge of going live with a large number of top tier Operators, either via direct integrations into their Gaming Platforms, or via Platform Operators who have integrations into Operators. Once the initial technical integrations are done you can finally start offering content to customers. You’ll see our games start to pop up in the lobbies of more and more Operators over the rest of this year for sure. If one market does emerge as a primary market, that is when it will do so.

Our games feature differing math models and game features, that coupled with the huge number of markets covered by our existing and upcoming partners make it impossible to say right now which markets will develop into primary markets for Playson.

4. With the high quality HD games that are designed beautifully you already match leading software providers such as Play’n Go, NetEnt, and Betsoft. Which slot would you single out as the most stunning you’ve created so far?

I’m a pretty modest and non-egotistical person as anyone who knows me can verify, so when I say that I don’t think anyone designs better looking games than Playson it is not bravado or mere rhetoric. I’d put our Art Teams up against the best of the best in the industry today.

It’s unfair of me to single one game out over any other but if we are talking purely Art then I really like Alice in Wonderslots, Dracula’s Family slotBumper Crop slot and of course Double Joker Poker which I honestly believe is the most beautiful Poker Machine ever designed (and I’ve got thirty years of experience looking at Poker Machines I’m sad to say).

Of course it takes more than great Art to design a successful game, we have some PhD Mathematicians generating really intriguing math models aimed at different segments of players. Additionally we also design games with standard features that Players are familiar with or alternatively unique game features such as those in Bumper Crop, Space Corsairs slot or our upcoming Art of the Heist slot. We try to avoid a cookie-cutter approach to game design which is resonating with our customers for sure.

5. Your slots all have interesting and attractive bonus games. How much do these additional features matter to players?

Answering that question properly is the key to designing great games and is a constantly evolving challenge.

Interesting and attractive bonus games, like great art and interesting math models, are a hygiene factor for iGaming content providers these days; as if you don’t have great art and interesting math then your games stink.

No one Player is going to appreciate all of the various features of course, and the same Player may not appreciate the same features one day to the next. So developing an evolving understanding of the Player’s requirements of games is a fundamental challenge to game designers and one of the most challenging and fun parts of the business, well at least to me it is.

6. Playson has recently launched bonus free spin system “Gift Spins”, allowing operators to incentivize their players with real-money game play. Can you tell us more about the benefits this concept brings to players?

Gift Spins (or Free Spins as other companies refer to the concept) is again an essential hygiene factor that you need to have or you are at a competitive disadvantage. By allowing Operators to give Players real-money bonus spins on our games we give the Operators a great Acquisition and Retention tool whilst allowing the Player to get a no-cost demo of Playson products in action. It’s a no-brainer that you absolutely need this functionality today.

We also have an interesting feature called Spectator mode aimed at tournament game play or casinos with a more social media approach to Player management. Spectator mode allows players, via an Opt-In, Permission based system, to allow their friends to view their game play live. We are still in the early days of developing user cases with Operators to maximise the benefits from Spectator mode and we hope to see it more prevalent across our Operators in the future.

7. Lots of your games also have a gamble feature. Is this a sort of a connection between slots and card games? Do players find it appealing?

Our own research shows that the vast majority of Players will use the Gamble Feature during their interaction with each Playson game. However, the use of the feature is not consistent and it is only used on a minority of games. If a player feels ‘lucky’ then they try to double up the occasional winning spin.

When you consider that the Gamble Feature has a true 100% Return to Player (over a considerable number of games) then it certainly isn’t there as a money making feature.

The Gamble Feature is there so that our games can be competitive in markets where the majority of our competition also features a Gamble feature or where Players expect to see such a feature.

The feature itself is configurable and can be switched off or on depending on the Operator’s preference.

8. Could you explain the process you go through to create such beautiful games?

Ah, now where does inspiration meet process really? I can’t speak to the inspiration side of game design but the process side features input from concept planners, mathematicians, customer account managers, data analysts, art designers, audio designers, compliance experts and that’s before the developers and project managers get involved.

We have a central Platform that handles all the repetitive tasks involved in developing our games, and then modular components are integrated into the Platform as the game develops. This gives us great flexibility to work on multiple parts of the game simultaneously, which is a huge advantage over other companies I have worked with in the past.

We’ve just been discussing buying a recording studio to help us develop some interesting and more complex audio for our games. I don’t know if we will do that but it is a very interesting idea.

9. We actually met at the ICE Conference in 2015, where you promoted the Dracula’s family slot. This year you’ve presented one of your newest slots - Bumper Crop. Can you tell us more about it?

Bumper Crop is designed to be a light-hearted, fun experience, as opposed to a hard-core gambling type slot. It is aimed at casual players that wish to be entertained by the game as they play.

The main game feature is that every reel can progress independently towards becoming a fully wild “Bo­nus­-Wi­ld” reel with the benefit of extra free bonus spins for the player at the same time.

These wild reel / bonus spin features are triggered when the Player ‘Grows’ a bonus tree on the reel. This is done when the symbols for the Shovel, the Seed, the Watering Can, the Sun and then the Gardner all appear on each reel over differing spins as the Player progresses through the game.

Players see the progress of each reel towards turning into a Bonus-Wild reel. Often multiple reels will turn into Bonus-Wild reels one after the other, when this happens the Player can be in for a hugely profitable and exciting game play session.

I’ve never seen a feature like it and it makes for a hugely entertaining playing session for Players that enjoy bonus features. The bonus features are session persistent, so you can leave the game and then come back to it a day, a week or a year later and pick up where you left off.

10. The most popular Playson slot on AskGamblers is Dracula’s family slot. Is it the same in the online casinos? If not, which game is the most popular one?

Dracula’s Family is a hugely popular game, between the differing free spins options it gives the Player to the many in-game features and its more volatile, higher awards it does appeal to a great cross section of Players.

Other games are Popular on different Casinos or even at different times of the year. Alice in Wonderslots is very popular on sites with more soft-game options. Our Merry Christmas game was incredibly popular last Christmas, which stands to reason.

11. What’s your favourite slot?

Personally I really like Bumper Crop, as not only is it an absolutely beautiful game, but it also has intriguing mathematical features. I can say that this game stands on the border of old slots behavior and non-standard bonus features. I feel that is what players search for in the newest games.

We are not the first game designers to show the Player the bonus progression during game-play but I’ve never seen anyone do it in quite the way Bumper Crop does. As our distribution expands greatly in 2016 I expect Bumper Crop and Dracula’s family to feature in many Operators top ten games and “Favorite Game” lobbies.

12.Thank you Adam for giving us the pleasure to learn more about your brand. We wish you all the best and look forward to more beautifully slot games.

It is my pleasure and thank you for the opportunity to discuss Playson with yourselves and your readers. We hope your readers enjoy Playson games which at the end of the day is the whole point of playing, to have some fun.