In our latest interview with Ondrej Lapides, CEO of Tom Horn Gaming, we had a unique opportunity to learn all about the software company’s latest news, creative process, future plans, possible challenges and much more.
Additionally, Ondrej Lapides generously shared Tom Horn’s secret to succeeding in the world of online gambling with us, revealed what achievements they’re most proud of and highlighted where their inspiration for new online slots comes from.
You have more than a decade of experience within the gambling industry and helped make Tom Horn Gaming what it is today. What is the secret to success?
There is no straightforward recipe when it comes to building a successful business, as there are numerous factors which shape its future. A clear future growth strategy, involving practical solutions on how to set and achieve goals, is a must, as is a diverse contact book. Strong relationships within the industry are hugely beneficial, but it’s also important to have solid relationships with employees.
What’s more, creating a strong company culture is just as important as establishing a bond with customers. They are our number one priority and we do everything in our capabilities to develop games that enhance their operation and boost their revenues. Building a recognizable brand identity is another step in achieving a success. You must differentiate from the competition by offering an innovative and entertaining experience that players will remember. Our dedication to utilising the latest technologies, along with a constant innovation, agile approach and quick decision making, make us easy to work with.
In addition, we provide exciting gaming content that is a great match for operators around the world.
When it comes to business and your company’s success, what are the things that you are most proud of?
During the last two years, we have grown exponentially in regulated markets. We were the first casino software supplier to be approved by the Lithuanian Gaming Control Authority and to provide our content to the biggest operator in that market. A Class 4 Remote Gaming Licence with the Malta Gaming Authority followed shortly. Our commitment to integrity and responsible gaming, together with the excellence of our gaming software, has been recently acknowledged by the UK Gambling Commission that awarded us a UK licence. This recognition of our products by the most stringent jurisdictions in the world, along with the great games we develop is truly something we are proud of, and is a result of all the hard work of the Tom Horn Gaming team.
Your software supports both online casinos and land-based gaming platforms. In terms of technology, which sphere offers greater challenges?
It is difficult to say which channel offers greater challenges as both online and land-based gaming have their own unique demands. When creating the content for the online environment we have to focus on a quick download of games and support various devices, from old mobile phones to the newest iPhones. This means we have to optimise both the layout of games and the performance to ensure a seamless experience across various devices. On top of that, we have to think about the promotional tools we provide operators with, to market and push our games in order to attract new players and retain old ones.
Land-based gaming is more about connecting software with different peripheral devices such as bill acceptors, intrusions, I/O, and standardised casino management systems. However, we do face a smaller number of limitations concerning HD performance and the game size, because the games are stored locally, with no need to download them. Gaming machines use standardised specifications, approved by ourselves. Currently, we deploy a downloadable application with our games for our online clients to allow players to download games locally for quicker access.
What are the strengths of your business model?
Tom Horn Gaming is grown on principles of transparency and honest relationships with our partners. In addition, great gaming content is the alpha and omega of all our activities, always being at the forefront of any strategic planning. Reliable support and an attractive promotional strategy of our products is also a must. Combining the above with a clear vision of what we wish to achieve in the industry forms the basis of our business model.
So far your company has offices in Malta, Czechia and Slovakia. Does this mean that Europe is your primary focus?
We have been working closely with operators in many European countries, but it does not mean we restrict our business geographically. We are continuously looking for new and regulated markets with great potential. The plan going forward is based on market potential and regulation, not location. Simultaneously, with our presence in regulated markets, we have been strengthening our position in emerging markets, like Africa or Latin America. The Asian market is of a particular interest to us because we believe this region is the future playground for the industry’s leading software providers. In turn, the games we develop take into account the cultural and regional particularities and gaming habits.
Where does the inspiration for the company name come from and what is the relation to the iGaming world?
For those knowledgeable about the history of the Wild West, the connection might be obvious. This was the name of our company long before we tapped into the iGaming business. We loved the name, so we decided to keep it. And to be fair, it stands out in the industry.
To what extent do additional bonus games matter to players? Is it more important to focus on the game design or bonus features?
It’s important that both game design and game features work in tandem. Players will always be on the hunt for life-changing jackpots, but at the same time they want to have a sound and visual experience in which to immerse themselves. Math models and game features are the core of our games, but top-of-the-range graphics and sounds are very subjective and must reflect players’ cultural background.
What do the processes of game creation and the game design require? Please tell us a bit more about the game development process.
Game development is a complex process requiring extensive knowledge from start to finish, ranging from artists to mathematicians and developers. The whole development procedure is like a chemical process, where all ingredients must be in perfect harmony to achieve a gaming masterpiece. Tom Horn Gaming employs some of the industry’s most talented people and it’s reflected in our products. The most important part of game creation includes brainstorming sessions, real money gaming sessions and focus groups with players in order to take on their feedback, both positive and negative. Teamwork is the key to creating a successful game.
How important is players’ feedback to Tom Horn Gaming and where do you usually find players’ game reviews?
Feedback is essential as it provides valuable information to adjust and improve our products. It also reflects the status quo of the industry, including trends, expectations and player habits. For any feedback we usually refer to websites dedicated to players’ reviews who share their experience with various games. AskGamblers is for sure one of the sites with relevant content when it comes to players’ references.
Where do you see the future of online gambling?
We must remember that online gambling is a segment of the global entertainment industry and as a such we are competing not only within this sector, but also against a broader range of entertainment options for player’s attentions. It is critical we continue to innovate, engage and entertain players to ensure we retain them. We are closely watching new elements emerging in online gaming, such as the tendency towards social interaction and skill manifestation, as demonstrated in a gamification current. We believe that online game developers will have to listen to players’ preferences more and more to reflect these requirements in their products.
Do you have plans to enter the sports betting industry?
Sports betting is a hugely popular segment, growing constantly. It has all the factors players crave - excitement, competitiveness, and a necessary knowledge of sports. The industry has been evolving rapidly, with additions such as eSports and virtual games with gamification features. It is especially the latter that attracts the younger demographics who crave the entertainment factor but may not have the knowledge of sports traditionally needed. Tom Horn Gaming is always looking to expand as a brand and is always keeping tabs on opportunities to grow. The truth is that Tom Horn has already started working on a special project dedicated to sports betting, which we believe will be the huge thing. We will share more details soon.
What do you think of a portal such as AskGamblers?
AskGamblers is a valuable and trusted source of information for both providers and players. Detailed casino reviews and ratings provided by real players contribute to fair gaming, with the website serving as a platform for the exchange of experiences and opinions of the gaming community around the world. I can only say that you’ve been doing a great job, and I hope you will keep it up going forward.
Thank you so much for finding the time to talk to us, Ondrej, and we wish you and Tom Horn Gaming plenty of success in all your future endeavours!