On-Line Casino and SportsBetting expert Interview.
Casino Solution Pro recently had the pleasure to question Oulala CEO Mr. Valery Bollier about his views for the iGaming industry and more importantly where the Social Media effects of today’s 4G connected World interface with casino gaming.
Valery’s company is at the forefront of the Daily Fantasy Sports field in Europe, and recently was awarded the 2016 SBC awards prize for the ‘Best fantasy Sports Product’.
Hopefully Valery’s insightfulness will help illuminate this increasingly important sector of gaming and on-line casino activity.
We hope you enjoy the interview:
Q1: Valery you believe the Millennial generation is bringing a ‘Social Revolution’ with their thinking. Can you help us with your definition of that?
Millennials, and more broadly, the younger generations, have been raised using social tools and playing social games on their Playstations and their Smart-phones. Therefore, it made sense that upon entering adulthood, they would expect monetised games to have the same kind of social experience to offer. The demographics of the iGaming operators’ customer databases clearly indicate that these young generations are not willing to play the way their grandparents played.
The iGaming sector is working towards reacting to that new needs by transforming their traditional offer in social games; they “gamify” old games. However this cannot work as youngsters expect new types of games that will be structurally Social Games.
Q2: Do you think these ‘Socially Revolutionary’ elements would have occurred without the ‘Smart- phone’?
The Smart-phone was definitely a key tool, because it suddenly allowed people to have a ‘nomad’ use of their social tools. However, the real game changer was when game consoles were plugged into the Internet and therefore allowed one person, alone in their living room, to play remotely with their peers. Older generations that have never played cannot perceive such a powerful switch, however it is certainly far more enjoyable and satisfactory to emerge victorious against friends than against a machine.
The iGaming sector must internalize this lesson: Young customers expect to play against each other, not against the house. The consequences are enormous for our sector. This means that the Sports-Book and casino industry must reinvent their business model.
Q3: Do you think that what we now call ‘Social Gaming’ has a place in the traditional ‘Hard’ gaming establishments?
Social Gaming has more than just a place; social gaming is the near future of our sector.
There is a dichotomy between what the sector is ready to offer and what young generations are wanting. If you speak with most iGaming leaders, they will explain that social gaming might be a niche product but that the main market will remain what it is today. On the contrary, young prospects are clearly expecting the iGaming sector to be a continuity to the kind of games they played as teenagers. The problem that the iGaming sector now faces is that these young generations are growing, and will soon become a majority, indicating a clear direction of what will come to pass. The iGaming sector has two options: the Kodak or the Fuji way. [Ed. Reference to the bankruptcy of Kodak, and the success of Fuji in the area of camera film over digital technology.]
Q4: In essence, what direction are the Millennial generation, iGaming and the recent Social Revolutions, which we all see currently in the social media sphere, going to take us?
It is always difficult to foresee the future with accuracy, but after two years of daily talks with our customers, it is evident that they are globally disappointed by the poor level of the graphism and the lack of skills and social elements in what iGaming has to offer. I therefore believe that the future winners of our sector are the companies that will invest a substantial amount of money to create brand new types of games.
Imagine a monetised version of ‘Grand Theft Auto’ where you take your friend’s money when you annihilate them. The future of iGaming may certainly look like this.
Q5: For the traditional gaming executives, who are still predominately of the Baby Boomer or early Generation X’ers generations, there is a very serious problem. Namely understanding what will motivate and captivate the Millennials’ to visit the Bricks and Mortar Casinos. What advice can you give?
You are very right. This is the biggest challenge that our sector faces. There is a great change of paradigm in our industry and we need to react to it by carefully listening to customers. However, our sector was never customer centered, mostly due to its business model; when you play against your customers, they tend to feel aversive towards you and it is thus very difficult to maintain a peaceful exchange with them. In other words, it is almost impossible to learn from someone who does not have positive feelings towards you.
The iGaming sector therefore needs to find a way to start listening to the real needs of these new generations and quickly adapt their offer to it. It is, of course, far easier to say than do, and it is evident that many in the industry will not find the courage to reinvent themselves.
The Bricks and Mortar Casino Industry can come up with many ways to respond to that offer and integrate physical games that will be linked, via the internet, to the world. We, for instance, are currently in talks with a group of physical casinos in Europe and we are conceptualizing a way of integrating DFS in their casinos that would then enable them to stay closely in touch with their customers, even when they are at home.
Casinos are excellent sources of entertainment, so if the industry is able to adapt their offer to the newer needs, there is no doubt that they will attract younger customers.
Q6: Well, it’s nearly the end of 2016, and for Oulala it’s been a great year; congratulations once again. So, for the coming year (2017), what’s in your Crystal Ball, and on your wish-list?
Thank you. It is true that Oulala grew well in 2016 and we were proud to have won the award for ‘Best Fantasy Sports Product’ at the SBC Awards ceremony last week (the first and only award for the DFS sector in Europe). After 3 years of preaching that DFS would become “The NEXT big thing” in the iGaming sector, 2016 has seen an impressive rise in awareness and interest in our new activity. Daily Fantasy Sports will no doubt become “THE big thing” in 2017, and we have positioned Oulala to benefit largely from it.
On our Oulala Christmas wish list there is now mostly the deployment of exciting B2B deals with iGaming operators. We are currently speaking with 50 of them, so without an intensive use of my crystal ball, I can confidently say that that we will sign a significant number of deals in the next 12 months.
2017 will be a very Oulala year.
In my opinion, Valery has, if not nailed it down, then at least run ‘the flag up the pole’ of a pretty important problem for the Casino industry. Personally I think he’s right. I’ve got teenage kids and younger friends who certainly don’t want slow moving and plainly financial adversarial games for entertainment when they have the money to play with. Which one day, twenty years from now, they will be. Without them coming through the doors Casinos, even on-Line casinos, will cease to be.
Time to adapt, or die.
Valery is currently on a well earned vacation, but if you, dear readers have any comments or questions on this very interesting interview, please send them over to us at CasinoSolutionPro and we promise to have a follow up session in the New Year.
All the best for Christmas from the CSP team, and Cheers for New Year’s!