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THE BIG INTERVIEW


Changing the Game


Casino International met with IGT’s VP Gaming Content and Product Marketing, International, Guenter Bluemel, to understand his crucial role in game development.


T 40 JULY 2019


here is no off-the-shelf formula for creating a hit game – but are there steps that can be taken to increase the likelihood of a game working on your floor? IGT certainly says so. Guenter Bluemel, IGT VP Gaming Content and Product Marketing,


International, heads a team tasked with creating the hits, and rectifying the misses.


Casino International: What is your job, Guenter?


Guenter Bluemel: I have a lot of varied responsibilities, but fundamentally my team and I are chartered with offering great-performing games for our International customers and their players. From a product perspective we reorganised IGT in 2017.. The main driver for this change from a product and content perspective was our understanding that market needs are different, and player needs and expectations might vary in different geographies. If you look at the U.S. and the Las Vegas Strip and compare them to markets in Europe expectations and needs both the player and customer perspectives, appear to be different.


CI: You could take that to a granular level, compare the Strip to the Vegas locals market though – how far do you take this segmentation?


GB: If you look at the EMEA markets, the Latin American market, those markets are not homogenous but are


heterogenous. From a portfolio perspective we realised that if we wanted to take those markets seriously, customisation, adaptation, and to an extent, ground-up development of specific content for those markets is required. This was a guiding principle when we organised back in 2017, and all the fruits of those investments are really coming through in our current portfolio. If you look at IGT’s philosphpy, often you will hear us talk about putting the customer first. This is in the DNA of IGT and was one of the drivers of our reorganisation. We can’t claim to be Customer Firstif we don’t have a portfolio that fits the individual markets. We are dedicating significant time and effort talking to our customers and their players to understand what they are looking for, evaluating whether our global portfolio fits and matches those needs, or if we have to complement that with a specific development. For example, when we entered the VLT market in Greece, we tried it with our standard portfolio and realised quickly that players were looking for something different, so we developed titles tailored for their players’ expectations, and current performance tells us that this was the proper road to take. When we see such success we look at cross-utilisation to other markets – would other markets benefit from this, is it meaningful?


CI: What if you don’t see success with a title, but you might think it could work elsewhere? At what point do you stop trying?


GB: Another instrumental part of our process is field-testing games. As part of our development and deployment process we established a program called Test Banks on a global scale. So we are bringing our products to special locations where we are able to test new slot titles. If we do not see those titles performing well above floor averages, we are not releasing those to the market in their current conditions. We take them back, explore, try to find what we missed, see if it is something we can fix. We ask ourselves if we can rework and re-release it, or if we are completely off-track. With a success, we might want to take the concept and adapt it a little prior to releasing it to others. A good


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