Here we have a fascinating interview with a leader in the gaming industry. Meet Eriks Petersons, Director of Digital Transformation at Ciklum.
Here he talks about his introduction to the industry as a professional poker player in Riga, his move to Malta and his career in the industry.
What stands out in opinions and views is the emphasis on the player experience and how it needs to be unique and standardized.
“One area that is really missing, in my opinion, is the differentiated player experience.” he said with absolute conviction.
It also explains the use of technology, regulations, and the need to break down internal processes into smaller, simpler steps.
Read on. Don’t miss the wisdom.
Q. Let’s start the interview with a brief introduction to your career. Our readers love to hear the best entrepreneurs speak for themselves.
A. I started in the iGaming industry in early 2008 in my hometown of Riga where I was a professional poker player. Poker was at its peak and everyone was talking about it. Fast forward to 2011, especially the Black Friday events of April 15, which put an end to the poker hype. I bought a one-way plane ticket to Malta to further develop my career in an industry I had fallen in love with.
I have spent the past 10 years or so in various operational roles in large B2B and B2C companies, working closely with customers, technology and products. Looking back, I was fortunate enough to join the industry at a time when I was able to grow and mature alongside it. This allowed me to develop an in-depth knowledge of the company’s operations and the specifics of the industry.
My current role at Ciklum is to lead the iGaming vertical. Our goal is to contribute to the industry, by sharing our technological know-how and driving the growth of our clients to reach new heights.
Q. How do you see the development of technology for the iGaming industry over the past few years? Has too much happened, like the covid 19 pandemic, frequent regulatory changes and the emergence of new tools in artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing and blockchain?
A. The last few years have been quite interesting. While one could argue that regulation has been the main culprit for the lack of innovation, especially for companies with a global footprint, it has also been a major motivator for innovation. The same goes for AI, Big Data, and the Cloud, all of which meet regulatory needs in one way or another.
Now that we’ve seen the adoption of these new tools to some extent, it’s time to extend them to other areas of the product. One area that is really missing, in my opinion, is differentiated player experience.
With a few exceptions, most casinos are all the same. They just look and feel different. There is nothing special that causes the player to choose a particular brand, or more importantly, to stick to it.
Q. In what ways do you think the pandemic has affected the development of igaming technology? And what are the technological changes that video game companies can adopt to make their operations pandemic-proof in the future?
A. There haven’t been a lot of new developments, but the one I like is the shared player experience. It’s also a trend we’ve seen in other industries, such as video streaming, with tech giants like Netflix and Disney + both launching surveillance features earlier this year.
When it comes to technological change, the industry has once again proven its recession-proof status. Although I would say this is more due to the nature of the entertainment industry, rather than any particular technological development.
When times are tough, people look for moments of joy. As long as this is happening in a sustainable and responsible way, why not have a chance to win something too?
On the other hand, shutting down all sporting events during the pandemic taught us the importance of product diversification and over reliance on interactions of the physical world. Therefore, I would expect things like already popular esports betting and virtual sports, especially built on blockchain technology, to gain prominence now.
Q. Now let’s talk about technological changes. How can iGaming companies work on different regulatory changes and product features in parallel – without blocking each other and providing transparent service to users?
A. There are quite a few factors at play here, from your product strategy to planning, prioritization, available budgets, and headcount. There needs to be a well-separated system with teams formed around different areas of responsibility, who can work independently on their own release cycles. Emphasis should be placed on independence. For example, while your “responsible gaming” or “fair play” team is busy implementing a change in Germany, your “player acquisition” team can refactor, test or improve new features on the homepage. .
The only other tip, which is similar to what any productivity coach would tell you, is to break things down into small, logical chunks and start working on them ASAP. This will save your teams any last-minute stress, gain productivity points, and thus gain extra time to devote to beautiful, new and brilliant features. The trick here is to keep releasing those little logical chunks straight into production, and in case the full functionality (made up of several small logical chunks) isn’t ready or needs to be released later, you can keep its functionality. configurable feature enabled or disabled – known as failover feature.
Q. Why do businesses need APIs to work with a number of third-party tools, such as fraud detection platforms, KYC verification tools, and others?
A. It is not a question of why, but rather a question of how? If you do not have a standardized process, you will continue to adapt with each new integration that comes your way and thus adapt more and more customizations and exceptions to your platform, which will eventually become a uncontrollable beast that no one wants to face. .
As a simple example, if we just focus on the basic operation of the online slot machine, there are tons of different online slots providers that each have their own APIs. However, all slot machines work pretty much the same. You need to query the wallet to check the balance, you need to call the provider to place a bet (spin), then you need to be notified of any winnings. Now, as an example, some providers will not return any calls for loss, some will return a call as 0 win, while others will record each loss separately. If you haven’t standardized these elements in your platform, you will continue to have different variations which will ultimately become difficult to maintain.
Q. What do you think of using cloud computing to work with huge amounts of player data?
A. There are many advantages to using the cloud that are already fairly well documented. First of all, huge amounts of data require huge amounts of storage. While it’s technically possible to increase the capacity of your internal servers, you should plan for these things well in advance.
Second, because of the cloud’s ‘infrastructure as a service’ model, you are essentially shifting all of your initial bare metal CAPEX spending to much smaller OPEX spending that would only increase as you grow. , and therefore are much better for your bottom line.
Finally, the cloud offers the possibility to scale your infrastructure very quickly so that you can manage large traffic spikes or prepare for a new market launch. The icing on the cake is when you manage to automate this horizontal and vertical scaling.
Q. How do you think simple changes – such as the design of sign-up forms – can make a big difference in the player experience and possibly the income of iGaming operators?
A. You can never stop experimenting. Player trends are constantly changing, and you shouldn’t forget to factor multiple aspects of the market and culture into this equation. There are tons of untested hypotheses that can only be validated by real data. Is a three-step registration process better than one?
Even the smallest things like the color, shape or positioning of a button can have a huge impact on player behavior and therefore conversion rate. Successful operators never stand still, they continue to experiment, validate and improve their product and therefore their income in small manageable increments at a time.
Q. Finally, where do you see the current digital transformation heading. In the future, will digital transformation invade end-user data privacy and security much more than it does today?
A. Overall, the topic of digital transformation is quite broad, but one of its important aspects is the ability to see things in much more detail, understand those details, and then gain more control over them. These can be physical items, events, or outcomes. That said, it definitely touches every possible aspect of player data. I would expect the rules and moral principles to set the limits.
Think about your phone, it already has dozens of different sensors that can detect light, sound, gravity, acceleration, location, temperature, biometrics, and more. One can choose to use this data, and who knows, maybe in the future, instead of the traditional spinning buttons on slots, players will toss their phones in the air to power the RNG algorithm. unique slot machine.
But on a more serious note, in the short to medium term, I would expect to see more control given to players in terms of how they want to be entertained. From the look and feel to the actual dynamics of the room. They might want to play solo or host a board game with their friends, where balances are shared and winnings distributed. Bets on accessories will also become much more granular using every conceivable data point of the particular sport / market, placed through smart speakers directly on your TV while watching the live stream.
In the long run, affiliates, and possibly even individual players themselves, will be able to set up their own casino within the casino and keep a portion of the income. They would be able to define every aspect, from looks and type of games, to localized bonuses and loyalty programs, etc.
Then, in the not-so-distant future, it will all likely move to some sort of metaverse, such attempts having already been made.