Have you ever played Big Bad Wolf slot? If you have, then you definitely know of Quickspin, a Swedish game studio that truly delivers beautiful online slots. And today we give you an exclusive chance to meet Daniel Lindberg, CEO at Quickspin. Take the time to have a read and find out more about their games, future of slots, company’s culture, their passion, and so much more!
Before you founded Quickspin you worked for NetEnt for 5 years. And on the other hand one of your co-founders worked for Unibet Group. How valuable was the combination of your experience for the success of Quickspin?
We’ve always had a real passion for slots nurtured by the great places we’ve worked previously. Working for a progressive company like NetEnt was a great grounding, and it is invaluable having people with operator experience too, who have seen things on the other side of the fence. When the opportunity presented itself to combine those skillsets, knowledge, and experience to start Quickspin we jumped at the chance. Going into this we had the vision of what we wanted to do having seen both good practice and not such good practice elsewhere. It also helped having a business network to build a solid business plan which we have been executing ever since.
It’s a fact that you have quickly established yourself as a leading development studio. Only in 2015 you have signed over 25 operators world-wide. But what is your niche market?
We live and breathe slots and are passionate about what we do. In this highly competitive market I think it is important to stay focused. As a result we’ve decided to focus solely on the creation of video slots and not be distracted by other product lines. These are created for both social casino and RMG. As much as anything, we did this because these are the games we love playing ourselves. Given our experience and that focus we are now in a position to create great slots. The end goal is to create the best slot ever.
You target real-money online casinos, and also the social gaming sector, thus build your games with Facebook in mind. Is there any difference between the real-money games and the free play social games?
There are differences in the fact that you can win money from one and not the other, obviously. But in most respects they are exactly the same. We’ve certainly always designed our games to be the same for both verticals, believing that the gameplay is the most important thing. A Great game is a great game, no matter if the rewards at the end are charms or cash. We like to think that our games are simply enjoyable and entertaining to play in their own right. Whilst people do play slots to win money I believe they play them to be entertained. What keeps them coming back is that fun factor, but also the depth of game design. Good graphics and sound are obviously a key introductory factor, but it’s the maths model under the bonnet that is most important.
We were also wondering where you see the future of social gaming and what your plans for this sector are?
Free2Play is a critical business vertical for us. It used to be our most important revenue stream, in fact, until RMG grew significantly and overtook F2P. From a business point of view, we see as much potential in F2P as we do in real money gambling. The worldwide industry has grown to around $2 billion a year in the last five years and people love playing the games, particularly on their mobile devices. We’re one of the few suppliers who provide games for both sectors and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
You’ve just launched Second Strike slot and caused some commotion. And since this is actually your first volatile 10 line game, can you tell us a bit more about it?
Second Strike is now live with our operator partners and the early indications are that it has been well-received by players. We have often made games of fairly medium volatility in the past, as they’re probably the most popular and most played. But this a volatile one which will appeal to the real hardcore slot fans out there. I think they’ll also like the old school, classic fruit machine look and feel. We’ve combined that nostalgia with a unique bonus feature. The feature, from which the game derives its name, adds symbols to the reels if the outer wheel marker stops on the symbol from any initiating line win. Players are rewarded with six to ten additional symbols for a second massive win. I’m confident it’s going to be a hit.
Do you consider Goldilocks slot your flagship game? Does this title perhaps owe its popularity to the theme which appeals to casual players and free spins feature which appeals to high rollers?
I don’t think I’d describe it as our flagship game, but alongside Big Bad Wolf it is certainly one of our most popular. It is a great theme obviously, and you’re right it has a bit of everything in it as a game that appeals to different players. Free spins are important in any game as it tempts players to have a go in the first place and rewards those who play regularly. Your point about high rollers is an interesting one, however, as we’ve recently introduced a range of stakes for our free spins so that operators can tailor them to different amounts players like to play per spin. We think it is hugely important to understand how players play and customise rewards specifically for them. There is no point giving a five Euros a spin player a load of 20 cent spins. He’s not going to waste his time or his luck on those.
The three most popular Quickspin games among AskGamblers members are all themed around popular fairy tales: Big Bad Wolf slot, Royal Frog slot, and Goldilocks slots. Where did you get the idea that slot fans will love this theme? Could we expect more fairy tale slots soon?
Some of our early successes were around these popular fairy tales, so we’ve stuck with them. In many cases they are just great stories, which is why they’ve endured for so many hundreds of years. They are almost branded games, except that there is no IP to worry about or pay for. They’re instantly recognizable too and don’t need to be introduced to players. We don’t have any particular fairy tales on the immediate horizon – but I’m sure you haven’t seen the last of them. We have some great content coming out in 2016 which, alongside our new promotional tools, we’re very excited about.
You still haven’t added progressive slots to your growing games portfolio. Since the players are thrilled with the chance to become instant millionaires, is this something we can expect Quickspin to deliver in the near future?
We’ve certainly talked about progressives and it may be something we introduce at a later date. But I’m not convinced they are as important as some people think. There are plenty of great games out there that players love which don’t have a progressive jackpot. Going back to my earlier point, I think people play games because they enjoy playing them. They are not like scratch cards where the only reason to play them is to try to win money. I also think that not rushing into producing progressive jackpots is fairly typical of our philosophy at Quickspin. We don’t do things just because other people do them. We’d rather lead than be led.
Do you consider player feedback valuable and do you consult them in any way when deciding on the theme and features for a new slot?
Player feedback is certainly important. Ultimately we need to know what they do and don’t like. We read the blogs and the affiliate sites such as AskGamblers, of course. But, to be honest, we see player reaction in the black and white of figures that come back from our operating partners. As players ourselves we are well-placed to be part of that process. We play our games regularly and those of other suppliers so we have a good understanding of what works.
While preparing for this interview, we stumbled upon some early programmer concept art of Big Bad Wolf slot on your blog. Could you perhaps tell us how much time was required to create such a beautiful, award-winning slot?
From concept to seeing the game live was probably about a year. It’s great seeing an idea like that transformed from some sketches on a piece of paper to a fully-formed game that performs well. We’ve now sped that process up without losing any of the quality development time that goes into a really good game.
Also, looking at your blog, we must say it seems rather fun working at Quickspin. Could you share with our readers what’s it like?
The business culture at Quickspin has been important to us from start and will probably remain as one of the single most important factors in future success. That starts and ends with hiring people who share our passion and are eager to produce good quality content. People that are curious and fearless and want to do things differently.
On the last Friday of each month we have Q days when members of the team are encouraged to do something different for the day that benefits their personal development. Some of these have resulted in our best ideas as a company.
Our aim is to stay ahead rather than compare ourselves with others. We are dedicated to our task and never give up. Ultimately it comes down the fact that we are convinced that the best game is yet to be made, that is why we work at Quickspin and being part of that journey is a great (and fun) experience.
Are you planning to display at the ICE conference this winter? If yes, what will your main focus be?
We will be at ICE and are very excited about showing people our games. After four years it is time for us to present our slots and our offering to the wider market. It is highly competitive out there and I’m hoping that our presence at ICE will further show that our business is not just making games. What we’re becoming known and appreciated for is creating awesome video slots that players love - whether that’s because of the sound, graphics, mathematics, or features. With this promise we make ourselves attractive to all operators who want to acquire and maintain loyal customers. It is also a great opportunity to catch up with existing customers and industry colleagues.
Your motto is "We love slots". Are you really a passionate slot player? What’s your favourite game?
We’re all big fans. Our work is what we really love doing. Personally, my favourite Quickspin game is Crystal Queen. I just love the heightened sense of anticipation you get from seeing the symbols materialise behind the ice. It captures that build-up of excitement that a good game should always have. I have to say I’m a big fan of IGT’s Kitty Glitter too. It’s not because I’m particularly fond of cats, it’s just a really well executed game! The maths model is so good they could put any graphics over the top and it would still be a great game. I think because we’re all big slots fans ourselves we appreciate good game design when we see it.
What do you think about the overall future of slots?
Very positive, I would like to think. More and more people are playing them as more territories open up. Places like Asia in particular, where there used to be skepticism about online RNG games, have seen a growing acceptance of slots. I think quality is improving too. The smaller boutique suppliers like ourselves are coming up with new features and concepts which are keeping things fresh. It’s very important that we keep innovating as a business and provide operators with opportunities to differentiate their offering from their competitors.
Thank you, Daniel for this exclusive interview. We wish you best of luck and can’t wait to see the beautiful slots Quickspin has in store for us!