Interview with Oren Cohen Shwartz (Skywind Group Managing Director)
The SlotCatalog team introduces Oren Cohen Shwartz, managing director of Skywind Group. Skywind Group was founded in 2012 and it is mainly focused on Europe, LATAM and Asia markets. Players can enjoy more than 200 innovative, mobile-focused games.
Oren Cohen Shwartz, Managing Director of Skywind Group
Hi, Oren! SlotCatalog is pleased to welcome you as a representative of the widely-known game provider Skywind Group. Please introduce yourself to our readers!
Hello! My name is Oren Cohen Shwartz and I am the managing director of Skywind Group. Before joining Skywind, I worked for B2C businesses such as William Hill and Superbet, as well as B2B businesses like EveryMatrix.
What is your history in iGaming, how did it all start for you?
I started in technological roles 11 years ago, moved to operations, then product and innovation.
In Skywind Group my responsibility is managing Europe and LATAM businesses.
Could you briefly highlight the history of Skywind?
We provide premium content, more than 200 games, and top-notch retention tools for the iGaming industry, offering a multi-product portfolio that is innovative, regulated and mobile-focused.
As we can see, Skywind is highly popular among the players. What is your recipe for success?
One reason is the fact that we are genuinely thinking about our partners and their customers, the players. We use it as a criterion and a filter for everything that we do. We have a lot of experience, but we will also consider what our partners have to say. In the end, they are the ones who know their players and markets best.
The second reason I would mention is our notion that content, as good as it is, is not enough anymore. This is the reason why we combine our premium content with external player engagement tools, designed to create a fully immersive experience. For example, in-game tournaments, unique bonus capabilities and condition-base rewards.
We are not just selling games but also high-end retention tools.
Skywind innovations definitely help bring the future of iGaming! Could you share with us what are Skywind Group’s main strategy points?
Each of our partners’ needs are different. For this reason, to allow our partners to thrive and grow, we create full iGaming solutions that include premium content, engagement features, real time condition-based interactions, all fitted to each partner’s specific needs and desired direction.
I see you have a very complex and responsible approach. Please, tell us what is your favorite game among Skywind Group’s products, and why?
We produce a lot of good games (more than 200 in our portfolio). It is hard to pick one favorite. In H1 2019 alone we released 30 games, and there are 18 more to come. Among those already released there are 7 branded video slots games, like Resident Evil, CSI, Magnificent Seven and Star Trek. From the branded ones, I specifically like CSI because of its look and feel as an extension of the TV series. The game is very successful throughout Europe.
Another game that I like is Boomerang Edge, this is an example of a game that we were not 100% sure about its reception in Europe, because it has an Australian aborigine theme. But it surprised us with an amazing performance. Players simply like it.
Boomerang Edge is really dynamic! What is the most important aspect of the game from your perspective?
I think it is the Boomerang feature that makes it so successful. When the boomerang is thrown out of the game screen, you continue to play and wait for it to return, when it does all the wins since it was thrown and until it came back are randomly multiplied.
You have this type of anticipation in many video slots these days. The fact that the boomerang, by design, is thrown and returns makes it fit perfectly with the feature. When it is thrown out of the screen you actually don’t want it to return, because you want to accumulate as many winning rounds before it comes back. I admit that when I play, I call out loud to it “don’t return”.
So, the main reason for the game’s success is that it creates a high level of stickiness and this is what all suppliers wish to have. Stickiness is so very elusive because there is no exact recipe for how to create it. When players love the game, they play a lot of rounds and come back for more.
The main reason for the game’s success is that it creates a high level of stickiness and this is what all suppliers wish to have.
There is massive amount of new video slots released every day. What makes your games outstanding among the others and helps to attract attention of new players?
Our games not only have in-gameplay engagement features but also external ones. We have metagames that operators can add, like tournaments and daily/must-go jackpots, as well as condition-based reward capabilities to allow operators to interact with players in real time. These external player engagements mean additional spice that elevates integral gameplay engagement.
We really invest a lot of effort in the production of our games. Not all games are relevant to every player. But with more than 200 games I believe we have something for everyone.
Some like high volatility others high hit frequency. Some players like re-spins some like mega reels and so on. It also depends on the market. In Romania, for example, people tend to like the more classic themes with fruits and bars and progressive jackpots. In LATAM, we’ve seen great success with localized games with themes like Aztec, Inca and Maya.
We are investing a lot of money and effort into producing branded games. By the end of 2019, we will have released 10 branded games. This is an astonishing amount. No supplier has ever done that before. We have signed big names like Star Trek, The Last Kingdom and Case de Papel (the Heist).
Not all games are relevant to every player. But with more than 200 games I believe we have something for everyone.
We also take risks with very innovative games. Some of them are successful, some are not. For example, we have some arcade games that look and feel like casual games but are actually real money games. Fly Jet is one of them, it is a shooting game where the player has a mission to shoot enemy planes and fight bosses. Dragon Dozer is a game where a player drops coins and hopes it lands in a side a bucket. The game has a wide range of bonus objects. The game is so innovative it has not to be seen anywhere in the industry. It took 18 months to produce. Most suppliers will not take such risks, but we think it is important to dare.
These games are very relevant to generation Z and millennials. These players are tech savvy and avid casual games players and they are looking for a multi-dimensional experience that spinning reels alone doesn’t provide. Gen Z is defined, in respect to iGaming, as people of the ages 18 to 22. The older ones within that group have already entered their adulthood and have the income that allows them to play games of luck.
You definitely have a great variety of slots to choose from! Our readers also wonder how your company works on new projects. Could you tell us in short?
We invest a lot of time and thought before starting a new game. We consider what players like in each market and create localized games. It’s reflected in the game features, graphics and sound. In the end, we can’t know if a game will be successful or not. There a lot of games these days. In Q1 2019 more than 250 video slots games were released. Since no one has a recipe, including us, we just do the best we can in every aspect of production. In the end, it is all about the details for us.
Explosion is one of our latest releases. When you play it, you can feel why we categorized our games as premium content. The level of details in the art, animation and sound are second to none. Players know exactly when a game is high quality. In the bonus game you are submerged into the lake and you actually feel it. Very realistic. The game has avalanche/tumbling reels where the tile-like symbols fall from the sky. One of the elements that makes it special is that the tiles have different connectors that multiply your wins.
We put special effort when creating branded games too, because we have to immerse ourselves in the brand. In the CSI game it can be seen in the spin button, which is designed as a fingerprint scanner, and in the “forensic” bonus game.
What do you think make operators interested in offering your games?
We don’t just sell games, but full solutions. As operators expand into new emerging markets, we support that by making sure they will be able to have our content there. We have already acquired licenses in MGA, UKGC, and Romania and will soon be in Spain and Alderney. We are also certifying our games in the license markets in Gibraltar, Sweden, Italy, Denmark and Portugal.
We make sure our portfolio has relevant games for relevant markets and offer cross sales possibilities, whether these are branded video slots, jackpot games, localized game like Case de Papel for the Spanish market, or games that appeal to sport punters, like the Lothar Matthaus branded slots game.
We produce metagames and condition-based rewards to allow operators to retain their players more effectively. We work very closely with our partners and proactively come up with ideas for promotions, exclusive and BSpoke games and anything else our partners need.
In terms of your experience, could you make a forecast of what the development of the iGaming industry will be like over the next 5 years?
I think we’re already seeing a growing trend of players that are expecting to be engaged and entertained in a much richer way than before. Gen Z and Millennials represent a new generation of gamblers that are already used to a higher level of stimulation and interaction. Content providers and operators that don’t embrace these changes and evolve accordingly will be left behind.
Skywind is probably one of the most advanced content suppliers when it comes to external player engagement. We are proud to lead the way and enable our partners to attract and retain their players more effectively.
Gen Z and Millennials represent a new generation of gamblers that expecting to be engaged and entertained in a much richer way than before. Platforms are going to improve year on year and open new interesting ways of delivering more and more elaborate content to the players.
Platforms are going to improve year on year for the foreseeable future opening up new and interesting ways of delivering more and more elaborate content to the players.
Oren, SlotCatalog team were pleased to have you as our guest! Do you have something to say to our readers as a postscript?
I think content suppliers and operators need to embrace and utilize technology at a faster rate. iGaming as a form of eCommerce is far behind businesses like Netflix, Amazon and the like. The level of service that players receive can be way better. After all, they put their money in and are well deserving of it. As for game development, we at Skywind will continue to produce proven math and engaging games in parallel to highly innovative games. In addition to that we truly believe in the need for external player engagement like metagames and condition-based rewards. All in favor of maximizing the player experience.