You’ve joined PearFiction as their Commercial Director over 9 months ago, but your professional experience within the iGaming industry reaches almost two decades! Could you please give our readers a short introduction and a peek behind the curtain into your current role?
I first started in the iGaming industry with PartyGaming in Gibraltar back in 2006, long before the merger with Bwin and the subsequent changes to GVC and then Entain. I spent most of my five years there working in Poker Marketing. Within a short space of time, I realised that I loved being involved in the online gaming industry. It is so fast-paced and exciting. In 2011 I moved to Barcelona and started working for Cirsa, a large Spanish land-based operator that was launching in the newly regulated Spanish online market. In that role, I worked much more closely with our gaming suppliers and realised that this was an area that interested me. Since that role, I have been on the supplier side of the iGaming industry and have had a few B2B roles. In 2017 I joined Netent in their commercial team, which I really enjoyed. In February last year, I joined RNG Foundry, which invests in and develops various new slots studios. I worked with four of the newer studios to help develop their commercial strategy. One of those studios was PearFiction. It became very clear from Day 1 that I and Thierry Semoff, the CEO and founder of PearFiction, shared the same philosophy and ambitions for PearFiction, so I moved over to work for them full time as their Commercial Director.
My role at PearFiction is varied and rewarding and provides a huge amount of professional satisfaction. Basically, I’m responsible for maximising all possible revenue streams and commercial opportunities for our games. My role includes showing our games to our operators, discussing promotions, exploring new markets and also any exclusive releases. I’m very lucky to work with a hugely talented and fun team that create such strong slot titles.
Improving business has been part of your repertoire for many years now, but how do you distinguish whether a game developer has a promising potential?
As soon as I started working with the guys at PearFiction, I could tell that they were a special team. The first game from PearFiction that I worked on was Chicago Gold, and it was an instant classic. From that moment, I was hooked. The critical backbone for any game is to have engaging features, excellent graphics and a strong math model. For any game studio to stand a chance in this very competitive industry, they need to be very creative with game features, have a powerful art or creative lead and be a wizard of a mathematician. If a studio has those key people in place, they stand a chance.
From the commercial perspective, what work goes behind launching a new slot game and what are the biggest challenges in the process?
There is a tremendous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes for every new game launch. I have my own 12-week plan covering everything from game selling and demos with the operators, arranging exclusive early release agreements with a small group of operators, promotional marketing activities, internal and external communication, PR, and social media activity. As the launch date gets closer, I always get more excited, hoping in anticipation that the game will be as popular as I think it will be. The biggest challenge is the number of games created by all the different studios these days. For the operators, it is a buyers market, and they can choose games from a wide range of studios. With some operators choosing to reduce the number of games they release each week or month, the competition is getting tougher all the time.
To stay ahead in this competitive business, what has changed over the recent years in how PearFiction keeps players engaged and what are the latest trends in the slot offering?
PearFiction is still a relatively new studio, but we have quickly learnt that players love to be entertained. We also like to give plenty of action and features in the base game. All of our games include exciting features like collect symbols, Lock & Win and collection mechanics to keep players engaged and entertained. There are always new trends that attract players. Some studios are producing very simple and straightforward games whilst others are going for harder and darker themed games that are highly volatile and packed full of win potential. I always think that a balanced and varied slot offering is best for the industry and the players.
High-end graphics and innovative features make PearFiction slots stand out among others. But what other unique aspects do you place emphasis on to make your games successful?
We are a studio that focuses on creating character-led games that players will engage with and enjoy. All of our games are very character-based, and we find that the players really enjoy all of our characters, like Piggy from Squealin’ Riches or the Mammoth from Blazing Mammoth. We also like to give plenty of action and features in the base game. All of our games include exciting features like collect symbols, Lock & Win and collection mechanics to keep players entertained. We like our games to tell a story, for the players to know that our games are bright, entertaining and very engaging.
Also, the look and feel of our games are something we are very proud of. I often hear that operators love the vibrancy of the colours and the very high production values of PearFiction games. We only make quality games and are not interested in a high turnover of games if they do not meet our very strict standards.
Can you tell us more about the newly released Dungeons & Diamonds slot. What are the key features and highlights of this game?
Dungeons & Diamonds went live on April 26th and has been a big hit for us. It is actually a re-skin of our first title, Chicago Gold. Instead of the back streets of 1920s Chicago, we have moved the location to a fantasy world where a sleeping dragon is guarding piles of gold. The game includes the same three collect mechanics (regular collect, multiplier collect and re-spin collect) in the base game and the bonus round, an exciting bonus round (that wakes up the dragon) with potential re-triggers and a Wicked Wizard’s jackpot game where the player can win up to 5000x their stake. With the bigger wins, the fire breathing dragon really delivers the hottest win celebration I’ve ever seen.
Could you shed some light on the upcoming PearFiction releases and innovations? What can we expect in the near future and what are you looking forward to the most?
I am very excited about our next game, Treasures of Kilauea (pronounced Kill-a-waya), which has a global launch date of August 9th. This game centres around the talking Kilauea volcano and was showcased at the recent Games Global customer event in Portugal, where it received very favourable feedback from the operators. The game has a very exciting retention mechanic built into the base game, which will engage players and keep them spinning as the Lava spin hits every 10 spins. We also offer all players a choice of free spins and random wilds when they get into the bonus round. With up to 45 free spins available, the players will love the game.
Moving forward, we are also expanding on our Lock & Win mechanic that was first seen in Squealin’ Riches. We will deliver an incredible player experience with that feature on a couple of great games, including a fun take on the Halloween theme and also a Spring-Break themed game.
Can you tell us more about the Lava Spin and Eruption Spin feature from Treasures of Kilauea? How does it work and what’s the intended player experience?
These two features will be fantastic for player retention. For the Lava Spins, after each spin, any Kilauea volcano symbols that appear will leave behind a Molten Lava frame. The Molten Lava frame locks in place until the end of the 10 spins. After the 10th spin, all Molten Lava frames will turn into Wild symbols and usually generate a win for the player.
When players reach 50-spins, the Kilauea Volcano in the game background will erupt and Wild symbols will be added randomly on the reels. Those additional Wilds will be added with the 10-spin ones and give players a healthy payout. Any wilds that land on an existing wild symbol will turn into a 2x multiplier.
For the players, they will know that a nice win is pretty much guaranteed every 10 spins with a bigger win likely every 50 spins. Therefore they will enjoy the regular wins and stay on the game longer.
What should players know about Squealin Riches slot? Why is this game worth giving a try?
Squealin’ Riches has been our most successful launch so far. It seems that everyone just loves our little Piggy character. The retention stats have been very impressive with this game, and it is still performing at a high level long after its October launch date. The Lock & Win feature is very accessible at every 60-70 spins, which really gives plenty back to the players. The gamble feature on the freespin wheel is also very clever and allows players to gamble or take whatever freespins they have won. Even if they “lose” the gamble, they will still win up to 100x their stake. No one loses with Squealin’ Riches.
What is your inspiration and development process for PearFiction games?
The inspiration for most of our games comes from Thierry Semoff, who is our CEO and the fountain of so many good ideas. Themes of games are often repeated, but we always try and find something different. For example, there are not many Ice Age themed games (Blazing Mammoth), or Chicago themed games (Chicago Gold). But also, we are always looking at how we can create an interesting story and customer experience with the features in the game. For example, with Treasures of Kilauea, we wanted to have a Polynesian Island themed game and focus on the volcano as the star of the game. He talks in Samoan when players win and shows his impatience by snoring.
And lastly, what’s your favourite slot and why?
This all depends on my mood. If I want familiarity, I might play Gonzo’s Quest from Netent or Rainbow Riches from SG. If I want something highly volatile, Money Train 2 from Relax is a game that can get the blood pumping. However, a timeless favourite of mine is Narcos from Netent. I love how they built the game around the TV show so well, and the key features are all fantastic and perfectly suit the theme and style of the game. If I could play my own slots, Squealin Riches and Dungeons & Diamonds would be my pick.