Interview with Helen Hedgeland, Managing Director Evolution UK 1

helenhedgeland

How would you describe your experience at ICE Totally Gaming this year?

ICE 2015 was another successful show for the Evolution Gaming team – in fact, probably the best we’ve had, if measured by the interest generated by what was our largest-ever ICE stand.

We always set up as many meetings as possible ahead of the show. With so many members of our international team present, it really is a great opportunity to get face-to-face with existing licensees and new prospects. We have virtually all key roles present, too, so we can bring in the relevant people and expertise to any given meeting.

We also had a lot of new products and enhancements on show, which proved to be a big draw. We were delighted by the number of new prospects that came onto the stand to talk to us. There are some very real opportunities that we are following up, and we have every reason to believe they will lead to significant new business.


Did you present any innovations during the show?

Yes, the show was the first reveal of our new Immersive Lite studio installation. Based on our award-winning Immersive Roulette, it’s a new bespoke option that makes an ‘Immersive’ multi-camera set-up available for the first time on Evolution licensees’ dedicated tables. Just as in Immersive Roulette, players are immersed in the live action through multiple camera views and dynamic close-ups that follow every spin of the wheel and movement of the ball.

Then there was our recently released Blackjack Party, which is a really different and highly social take on the traditional Live Blackjack game. With its chatty duo of dealer and co-presenter, and massively scalable low-stakes Bet Behind, Blackjack Party is proving to be a big crowd pleaser.

Other new products making their show debuts were Live Baccarat and Live Blackjack for smartphone. We now have a complete, world-class Mobile Live Casino offering that leads the market in so many ways.

Your Immersive Roulette won ‘Game Of The Year’ at the EGR Awards last year. Can you tell us what makes this game unique?

There really is nothing else like Immersive Roulette in the online casino market place. Fifteen-plus cameras are positioned around the Live Roulette wheel and dealer to relay all the action as it unfolds. Players are drawn into the game as they follow the spin of the wheel and the journey of the ball via randomly sequenced camera shots including close-ups and slow-motion replays. The whole experience is dynamic and fun.

We drew inspiration from Hollywood-style movie studio set-ups and applied the same principal to the presentation of online Live Casino games.

Originally we had envisaged that the premium quality of Immersive Roulette would make it more of a high roller product. However, we soon realised that it has mass market appeal. It’s proved to be one of our most successful tables and it also looks great and works really well on Mobile.

With all of these things going Immersive Roulette, the obvious step was to make the same functionality available on Evolution licensees’ dedicated Live Roulette tables, hence the launch of Immersive Lite.

Our main Immersive Roulette table is an absolute showcase table for multi-camera online Live Casino. Immersive Lite achieves very much the same effect but with fewer cameras. It’s also completely customisable, so there are all kinds of exciting options that can be explored by each licensee to heighten the player’s sense that this is just like playing in a real casino. In fact, Immersive Roulette has been such as success that we are now looking add a similar Immersive experience to other live games.

Was 2014 successful for your company in general? 

Yes, 2014 was an extremely successful year for Evolution. The year kicked off with the opening our new Malta studio, home to our international dealers and our world-leading line-up of native speaking dealer tables.

Then there was the installation of an ‘in-venue’ Live Casino studio for Casinó Campione d’Italia. Also, Danske Spil and Full Tilt were amongst a number of new licensees to join us. And, as you’ve highlighted, Immersive Roulette was named Game Of The Year in the EGR Operator Awards. This followed Evolution being named Live Casino Supplier Of The Year for a remarkable fifth successive year in the EGR B2B Awards.

On the product development side, our world’s fastest online Live Blackjack went from strength to strength. We added Live Blackjack for Mobile, and added Pre-Decision across desktop, tablet and smartphone to further speed up game rounds. We also added massively scalable Bet Behind to the desktop version of Live Blackjack. Then we released the Blackjack Party variant to broaden the appeal still further and maximise the Bet Behind revenue opportunity for our licensees.

With all of this going on, and with demand for Evolution Live Casino growing, we’ve expanded our team across all locations to support growth and to drive further product development and innovation.

Where do you see your company this time next year?

We have some very exciting plans for 2015. Development of further key products is already underway. We’re confident that these products will have a considerable wow factor and will continue to position us ahead of our competitors.

We’re looking to dominate new markets that are currently re-regulating, which will extend our stronghold in Europe. We also plan to expand into new territories.

So, this time next year, I’m confident there will be further innovations and market firsts to talk about, all of which, we hope, will reinforce our position as the Live Casino market leaders.

What can you tell us about your mobile offering? 

evolutiongaming

Mobile (as in tablet and smartphone play) is a key growth area for us, with smartphone play being the fastest growth area of all.

That is no accident; we’ve undertaken a planned and considered rollout of a complete and optimised Mobile offering across all our core games. This has made Evolution a very attractive proposition for any operator that wants to maximise the Mobile opportunity.

When we launch a game on Mobile we look to make it available on all devices – the tablet or smartphone is simply a different access point to the same world-class Live Casino game. We don’t short-change licensees or their players by offering just one or two tables for Mobile play – we have an ‘access all tables’ policy.

In fact, we have largest number of live tables available on Mobile, which gives players the option to move around the tables. Many players like to do this to try to improve their luck or to try different dealers. We also offer the largest number of native speaking tables.

All of these tables can be played using the market-leading iOS and Android tablets and smartphones. For Evolution, it’s about delivering the best possible experience to players, on their table of choice and on their device of choice.

Mobile will continue top be key focus area in 2015 and beyond. There is a great deal happening in this area and we work very closely with licensees to help them maximise their Mobile strategies.

Why are Live Dealer games so popular among players?

I believe it’s because Live Dealer games are fun, dynamic and, most importantly, they’re ‘alive’. It’s more than just playing a game on a machine – it’s about connecting with other players to a live event, the outcome of which is down to a mix of skill and luck.

Because it’s live, there’s a momentum to each game, and that adds to the excitement. And, of course, there’s the social element because players can interact with the dealer and other players.

The human factor is vitally important; it brings an extra level of trust and involvement. In the case of Evolution Live Casino, this is online gaming that’s ‘as real as it gets’.

Our licensees’ players feel that it’s just like playing in their favourite casino, whenever and wherever they wish. Like any game, there are levels of skill and involvement. Novices can quickly learn the basics by observing and moving forward at their own pace. But then there are also rich added-value features such as game stats, hot and cold numbers, favourite bets menus, unlimited bet behind, and much more. Players can make a real connection with Live Casino in whatever way they choose, and on so many levels.