Maria Luisa Malfasi, Business Development Manager at ESA Gaming talked to GIO about the business
GIO: Tell us about the company – when were you founded, who by, and what was your mission statement at the time?
MLM: We have been offering software services to the gaming industry for many years, but we made the decision to add a mobile gaming division in 2019. This was almost the conclusion of an evolutionary process, allowing us to fully embrace the ‘mobile-first’ philosophy.
Our mission has always been to have the player experience at heart, so this evolution felt natural as we have seen a significant shift towards gambling on mobile devices over the last few years. Our growth came off the back of thorough research and an understanding of the opportunity and we are thrilled with the progress we made so far and there are exciting times ahead.
GIO: What would you say are the things that make ESA Gaming unique in the market?
MLM: Our star product is the EasySwipe portfolio, featuring ultra-lightweight games designed to integrate directly into sportsbooks to offer simple, quick-fire casino games without disrupting the betting experience. The portfolio is proven to increase cross-selling capacity, while also enhancing engagement levels and boosting screen time. To a certain extent, we aim to create a completely new vertical with our content. A vertical that is completely different to the thousands of feature-rich games currently on the market. The interest we have seen in our products from both operators and players since we launched our first game cements our belief that less definitely can be more.
GIO: What defines an EasySwipe title for ESA Gaming?
MLM: The super-fast performance and open sessions that our EasySwipe games offer allow players to swipe in and out from their sports bets via a discrete widget, thereby enjoying the best quality casino games without leaving sports betting pages. The games are simple and easy to use yet engaging and fun.
Our current offering includes the classics Roulette and Blackjack but our most recent releases Goal Mine and Fruit Staxx have quickly become player favourites. Later this year we will be expanding the Mine series with additional sport-themed titles as well as an Egyptian-themed game, Video Poker and more slots.
GIO: Have any of the EasySwipe titles been a notable success internationally?
MLM: Blackjack and Roulette are casino standards so have quite naturally established a big fan base across the different markets where we offer our content. We have seen huge interest in Europe and Italy in particular as well as LATAM and Africa where we are partnering with a number of tier one operators and aggregation platforms. Our latest release Goal Mine has proved to be extremely popular globally which we think is partly down to its sports theme which resonates well with bettors but also the simple format and differing final rounds which create genuine progression and culminate in sporting action. This has proven very popular with the audience as it creates excitement and entertainment.
GIO: What do you believe is the key to the success of the EasySwipe series?
MLM: Players are discerning and have extremely high expectations and I think matching these expectations has been crucial to building successful games. The fact that our content is easy yet engaging is one of the key reasons it has been performing so well. We have worked hard to make sure that the gameplay does not disrupt the sports betting experience as players engage with our games during a lull in proceedings if they’re watching live sport, for instance. With neat icons, promotional tools and clever pop-ups that don’t drag people away from what for them is the main event, you can maintain engagement in multiple products at the same time. Rather than taking customers away from sportsbook they should be offered alternatives within it. Why offer myriad slot games with difficult to understand features and complicated paytables if sports betting is why they came to your site in the first place?
GIO: What does EasySwipe bring to the operator? And to the end user, the player?
MLM: For the operator, our games offer an opportunity to introduce customers to a new vertical they might not otherwise explore. Our swipe-in games have been found to convert around 19% of sport players while also helping extend bettors’ screen time by up to 6% and increase sport betting turnover by around 2.8%. Another advantage of the games is the cheaper cost of acquisition as they reduce required bonusing offers by 40% compared with other casino games. 15% of users of our content on a monthly basis are unique to these games, creating new revenue streams and a whole new player demographic, removing operator concerns about cannibalisation. So, the benefits are plenty!
For the sports bettor, we offer an alternative that complements rather than intrudes upon their sports betting experience and a fun and simple way to try casino games with an opportunity for quick wins.
GIO: ESA has recently partnered with both operators and aggregator suppliers, what is the thinking around your distribution strategy?
MLM: In terms of distributing our content there are pros and cons with using operators and aggregators. Naturally, aggregation platforms enable us to reach a wider audience of operators whereas using our own RGS can give a more bespoke integration which is optimal for our EasySwipe portfolio, designed for sportsbooks. Our strategy has been to partner up with key content aggregators in certain markets where larger operators can be slow to sign agreements because of onerous regulatory and administrative requirements. By working with an aggregator, this is all taken care of and we get smooth access to market without too many headaches. A direct integration also has clear benefits, as from a revenue perspective you cut out the middleman, so we are agnostic in terms of a blanket preference. Without going into our sales strategy in detail, we draw up comparisons of aggregators and the territories they serve and then assess to what extent we think we can penetrate that market in terms of direct integrations. It is then all about finding a critical mass of business that gets you noticed while maximising the earning potential.
GIO: What markets are you currently live in our planning to enter in the near future?
MLM: Over the last 12 months we have been granted a supplier licence in Malta and received certification for our games in Italy, Colombia and Portugal. We have an ambitious growth plan to bring ESA Gaming to the forefront of innovative gaming brands and rolling out in new territories is, of course, crucial to this expansion. In our sights now, we have Greece, Spain and Sweden as our targets so watch this space.