Genera Networks is a provider of innovative games for regulated operators in the lottery space. Their unique, digital and entertaining games are developed to attract the new generation of players. The Director of Product Development, Tomas Malm, will share how this team of innovators works in a traditional market.
Tell us about how you came into the industry.
I was employed at Svenska Spel, the Swedish lottery, for about 8 years – working with innovation, product development and business development of lotteries and number games. Prior to that, I worked in the gaming industry, designing computer games. While these games differed a lot from the lottery games, the principles of each were the same – getting players attention, entertaining them and encouraging them to continue playing.
Tell us about what you’ve done at Genera.
I have been at Genera for about 4 years. During that time, I´ve been a part of launching our Nabor game in three different markets and have also been responsible for our innovation team developing new game concepts and gaming formats. Recently, we just finalized our latest social lottery format “Friends”.
What challenges do you see in the industry?
One of the main challenges for lotteries around the world is to rejuvenate their player base, since players of the traditional lottery portfolio are aging, and the growth rate today of younger players is way too low. Innovation should be about trying to find products that will suit the modern generation. To find one or maybe several new games that could be used as entry products for reaching the younger players – products with the ability to stand out and generate some buzz in today’s market of entertainment.
And are the lotteries innovating?
There is a lot of talk about the importance of innovation in the lottery industry today, but when it comes to down to it, there is not much innovation going on. In general, I think there is too much talking about how to innovate instead of actually trying new things out. I think many are afraid that none of their new ideas will be a rival to lotto in revenue. While no one would argue that a game that generates that kind of revenue is a huge success, it shouldn’t be the sole focus when considering new games. The goal is to diversify the product portfolio and attract new players, while being profitable and not cannibalizing too much on existing revenue.
How do you think lotteries can attract younger players?
Lotteries need to focus on creating games with strong and modern USP´s. A product that stands out, not only from existing lottery games, but also from competitors in totally different markets, such as gaming, casual games (like Candy Crush, AR games etc), streaming media and the wide spectra of social media platforms. All these products are basically fighting for the same thing: the attention, time and money of the younger generation.
New games may also have a different life cycles or purposes than the old cash cows, since the entertainment market is much different now compared to when those were launched in the ’80s. It doesn’t need to be a game with a multimillion top prize, younger players are not as keen on games with a high jackpot prize but bad odds. What is also more important now is to make games that are ‘future ready’ – new games will benefit from being dynamic and modular to allow for easy adaptation and development over time.
One constant that has remained over time is that the overall game idea should be kept as simple as possible. Games that are easy to understand will do a much better job reaching specific target groups, especially since the average attention span of customers is getting lower and lower.
How do you develop game solutions that are both attractive to younger players, but also feasible for regulated operators to launch?
I have a team that works with innovation consisting of product developers, UI / UX designers and web developers. Genera’s innovation process basically starts with an ideation phase where we gather new game ideas or arrange ideation workshops, where we create new concepts for a specific customer or market. All ideas are then evaluated based on uniqueness and simplicity, market potential and complexity in technical development and business model.
The best ideas move forward to a conceptualization phase, where we develop and analyze the concepts further. The outcome is a concept that we test on real players for feedback. When a product shows promise, we further develop it, collaboratively with the lottery, making it tailor-made to meet their specific needs and the local market.
We focus on what we call “targeted concept innovation”, meaning that we innovate concepts that will fill a need or solve a specific problem for our customers – the regulated operators, knowing what is interesting and suitable for their target market and region. To be successful, we need to know about their business, their market situation and also have a deep knowledge of their customers, trends and any disruptive changes in the market, such as technical progress, that we could utilize in our innovation process.
Can you give an example of a recent “targeted concept innovation” that the innovation team is working on?
One of our newest innovations that we are working with is a game concept called “Duels” that takes into consideration that people are accustomed to instant gratification online and they spend their free time on their devices. This game reflects their expectations and behaviours. With Duels, we saw a gap in the market for players that want to game-on-the-go. It’s basically a lottery game designed for smart phones where you battle against other players in tournaments, instead of an RNG. It’s a luck-based game, but with the feeling that you may affect the outcome, since the result is based on your actual decisions in the game. This has resulted in a perception shift by the players that they are playing a game, rather than gambling. The game allows players to use their mobile phones to participate in real-time, connect with their friends and win almost instantly, wherever they are. We believe that Duels has the ability to attract a broad, younger player base and if we are successful, the new game genre can be a game changer in how younger players play the lottery.