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Monday, 30 April 2018 02:30
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Open-source platform provider TGG Interactive is taking popular social games to the casino market.

By Ben Blaschke

Given the game’s enormous popularity in Macau’s casinos – where it comprised around 88% of all gaming revenue in 2017 – it’s no surprise that operators around the world see baccarat as the key to China’s riches. Yet while it’s true Chinese players are looking for something simple and familiar, baccarat is not the answer according to Hong Kong-based games distributor TGG Interactive.

Instead, TGG has been actively exploring the concept of using popular Asian casual and social games to entertain new customer segments, specifically Chinese players, to casino floors in Asia and beyond.

“The concept of using social games to bring new customers to casino operators has been very much welcomed by major operators in Macau and the Philippines, but also in the US and Europe where there is so much opportunity yet to be properly explored,” explains TGG co-founder and CEO Raymond Chan.

“Our focus is always how we can meet the new customers in the market. Casinos are already very busy with people playing baccarat and slot machines but how about visitors – whether they be middle class or even VIP – that don’t want to play baccarat? There aren’t many alternative products in the market right now.

“That’s why we’ve been looking at action games and shooting games in the mobile game market and converting them into casino games. This is exactly what Asian customers are looking for.

“The middle class and the tourists that go to Las Vegas or Europe or Singapore or the Philippines, they want something familiar and something that is easy to understand.

“Chinese players and Asian players all grew up with those kinds of games – action games and shooting games – so there is no learning curve at all. And when a game is familiar and easy to understand, that’s when you get them to part with the money in their wallet.”

For Chan, the future of electronic casino games is far removed from the traditional slot machine, as evidenced by the enormous success around the world of social games such as “Angry Birds”, “Candy Crush” and even “Tetris” in recent years. Applying this concept to Asia, TGG recently released its take on classic shooting game “Fish Hunter”, which first swept through Asia’s video game arcades more than a decade ago and continues to be hugely popular to this day.

“Pretty much all Chinese people know about this game, which has had more than 500 million downloads in mainland China,” Chan explains. “It’s a very simple concept – you press the shooting button to hit the fish – but there are more possibilities on this game than on a slot machine because you have control over the patterns and how you want to shoot.

“The most important thing about games like ‘Fish Hunter’ is that it’s not just for the Asian casino market but also for the American, Australian and European casinos.

“There are so many Asian tourists going to these places each year and there is a very good chance they will end up in a casino. But they are more willing to open their wallet when they see something they are familiar and comfortable with.”

Having gained approval from gaming laboratory GLI for the math model it developed for “Fish Hunter”, TGG – which attracted plenty of interest from operators at ICE Totally Gaming in London in February – will deliver the product into both Macau and Europe this summer.

But don’t be surprised to see Japan on the radar next, with the company now looking into a possible re-imagination of the famous Japanese parlor game pachinko.

“Pachinko is definitely an amusement kind of product played more for fun, but the methodology and the concept is highly recognized by players – they are very familiar with it,” Chan says.

“If we can find a way to convert that according to the local government regulations in Macau or Singapore, we can potentially bring this new product into the market. The methodology is the same but we change it into something that fits casino regulations.

“That is definitely something tourists who go to Macau or to Las Vegas will be interested in. It will get them excited because at the moment, when they walk around the casino floor, all they see are the same kind of products being offered. We want to enable the casino operators to reach new customers by customizing their products.”

As one of Asia’s first open-source platform providers, TGG acts as a bridge between casino operators and game developers to enable closer collaboration and provide operators with new and innovative ideas.

The result is a constantly expanding “games library” from which operators can pick and choose to meet customer preferences. However, Chan sees an unmistakable trend towards social-style casino games.

“I’ve recently been doing a lot of roadshows for investors about our upcoming product lines and in a lot of instances, when they have seen ‘Fish Hunter’, they have shown me their mobile phone where they have been playing similar social games for fun,” he says. “They also said they would jump straight in to play the game in a casino if it offered the same kind of entertainment.

“This is a game-changer for the market and shows that it won’t be limited to slots games only in Asia, opening up the potential for casino operators to provide more entertainment on the gaming floor.

“The response we’ve received so far is encouraging because we can see that our prediction when we first started is correct: the market is looking for real alternatives to increase revenue.”

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