"Getting the theme and math right" - An interview with Richard Sheldon, CEO at Storm Gaming
We’ve met with Richard Sheldon, founder and CEO of Storm Gaming to hear how they’ve used their knowledge of the UK casual player when going globally and in their utilization of their latest Megaways powered releases.
Richard Sheldon, CEO at Storm Gaming
Hi Richard and welcome to this year’s first edition of the SlotCatalog game provider interview series! Could you start off by giving our readers an intro to who you are and what your history in the gambling sector looks like?
Well firstly, thank you for the invite, great to be first of the year.
My background is that of a techy so a long time ago I started doing contract work for first off, the now defunct BabyVegas and then after that, Blueprint Gaming.
I was producing both games and systems software for the gambling sector, all retail based at that time.
Incidentally, the then CEO and one of the original founders of Blueprint, Darren Breese, is now a director and shareholder of Storm Games, so you could say we’ve gone full circle!
Shortly after my last Blueprint project, I took on some investment from some well known iGaming investors and Storm Games ’proper’ was born, with new offices and three staff!
What’re the most crucial changes since you’ve started Storm Gaming in 2008?
We refocused the business, from pure retail markets to much more emphasis on producing slots for iGaming. We took the genetic code of retail gaming and turned it into award nominated content for the iGaming space. Whilst we still have a large and growing presence in retail markets globally, our iGaming content pipeline continues to grow and now makes up a sizable and crucially important part of our overall business.
What’s the Storm Gaming vision?
To be a global omni-channel provider of gaming products producing class leading games with both an entertainment value and strong math foundations.
How would you describe the benefits of your accumulated offline experience when it comes to making online games?
Our collective retail experience is from working in bar markets far and wide. From our UK offices, we have produced products for Africa, Europe, The Americas, and Asia. Our knowledge of the UK casual player has helped us produce compelling yet entertaining content. We put an emphasis on both strong math models and, we produce high production value, feature rich games, games that both entertain and enthral our player base.
What’s your outlook for 2021 and which will be the key happenings for Storm Gaming?
We are continuing to expand our team, creating a highly skilled UK games development team and we see this expansion continuing in 2021 with new staff being added to help take our content into new markets globally. We are investing in our games; we have more games in development today than we have ever had before. We’ve new relationships with distributors and Operators and are working closely with some key customers on bespoke content as well as some new game mechanics that we are excited to bring to market in 2021.
What upcoming titles do you have lined up and why will they provide unique entertainment value?
We would love to share but we cannot reveal. We are having to keep our cards close to our chest because the market is so competitive and we genuinely believe some of our new games and some of our new mechanics will hit the mark with our target customers and whilst we would love to be shouting from the rooftops today, we simply can’t. All I can say is, expect to see some very unique Megaways games, some pubfruit style slots and some very slick mechanics on our more traditional range of slots.
Which types of players are your games mainly made for?
We have always tended to produce games that resonate with a UK player base. However, we have produced games that have had huge commercial success all over the world including Canada, Germany, and other regulated territories outside of the UK.
I think a good game and a good mechanic will always shine no matter what your original target market for the content was.
You’ve released several Megaways powered games in the past which have done well! What have been your experience utilizing the BTG engine?
Nick and his team at BGT came up with a fantastic mechanic and we all love it here at Storm and so, of course, do the players and other software houses with more and more companies adopting the mechanic.
Our first game using the Megaways mechanic was Magic Merlin Megaways. This was an absolutely phenomenal success for us, propelling our content into the top 10 games of the year on a number of operator sites, which was massively above our expectations.
Your Monsters of Rock Megaways release was received particularly well by players across the globe and still enjoys fine exposure. In your opinion, what are the main reasons that this game has proven successful?
When we produced Monsters of Rock we used a local rock band to write some music for us, and really put a huge effort into the production of the game. It is full of detailed animations, great characters and a rocking soundtrack. However, we wanted to push the Megaways mechanic, so we added some extra features. The pick me feature was the first one, three or more records in view allows you to win a spot prize. However, the big feature was ‘High Voltage. This introduced to the Megaways market the removal of all royals on the reels. This means you really can get ‘mega’ wins of over 76,000 x stake!!! It is the feature we all love and chase in our office when we are playing that game!
What other game providers do you think have made good use of the engine and what titles have you been especially impressed with?
We have regular ‘game playing’ sessions in our office where we are all encouraged to play everyone elses games. What has impressed us? We’ve enjoyed SG’s ‘BeetleJuice, some of Blueprints Megaways slots have been great too and of course, we loved the Monopoly Megaways from BGT too.
Are there other features or trends that you find extra interesting at the moment?
We have noticed a move towards the 4096 ways to win has gathered some pace recently and there are lots of new mechanics that are interesting but aren’t hitting the mark as Megaways has. However, there are also lots of ‘me toos’ and reskins out in the market at the moment and that’s something we want to exploit in 2020 by coming up with some fresh thinking and ideas for slots in 2021.
What changes in player preferences do you estimate that we will see grow and decline during the upcoming year?
The traditional 3 x 5 slot is declining as are the ‘win lines’. The cascading reels seem to be appearing everywhere these days. However, one thing that never changes is, you can put huge amounts of time, effort, and money into the production of a game, but if you get the theme wrong or the math wrong then the game will not perform in the market.
Growth will come from new and exciting mechanics. We’ve all been so used to the traditional 3 x 5 slot and to a lesser extent, the more recent Megaways mechanic, but for sure, new mechanics will appear and get adopted in 2021.
In which areas do you think the iGaming industry has done well within 2020?
I think the industry as a collective, manages both regulatory changes and requirements well.
There is much more of an emphasis on responsible gambling in 2020 and that can only be a good thing for the long term good of the industry and the players who enjoy the games.
On behalf of the SlotCatalog team, thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything you would like to say to your fans, future fans and future employees before we say goodbye?
A big thank you for our team, for the hard work and dedication they show and a big thanks to fans of our content. For obvious reasons, 2020 has been everyone’s ‘annus horribilis’, we look forward to a more normal year ahead with a flow of new exciting content that will really put our company on the iGaming map. I really cannot wait to start rolling out our new games and look forward to the opportunity to fly and meet friends, old and new, again in Malta, Gibraltar, the USA and beyond.