Marcus Cordes, COO at Hacksaw Gaming enters the spotlight for this week’s game studio interview
In just 18 months, Hacksaw Gaming have managed to claim prime positions in the casino lobbies across several different markets. We’ve been lucky enough to speak to Marcus Cordes, COO at Hacksaw Gaming to talk about how they’ve managed to reach these results in such a short amount of time.
Marcus Cordes, COO at Hacksaw Gaming
Welcome Marcus, we really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to talk to us. Would you mind introducing yourself to our readers and then give a quick intro to Hacksaw Gaming?
Hi, my name is Marcus Cordes and I’m 30 years young. I joined Hacksaw Gaming as COO in September 2018. Before that I held the same position at Multilotto for two years and prior to that I worked in Sales for over 5 years. My current role is to oversee all the business operations in the Malta office and recruit the right people to bring in their expertise to grow the company.
Hacksaw Gaming was founded in September 2018 so we are still a young company. In spite of this, we are always trying to push the boundaries by producing quirky and innovative products. Our games are getting great feedback across the iGaming industry and we have been growing steadily since our conception.
Yeah, your games have landed high SlotRank positions for several big markets, Sweden especially. Why do you think your games have been getting such attention?
We began by rethinking classic products on the market and started by reinventing the scratchcard concept to be completely mobile friendly as well as to include some interesting animations and entertaining elements within a relatively simple game mechanic.
We currently have the highest fixed prize games on the market which are marketed as premium non-progressive jackpots. Our first premium game My Lucky Number was released in March 2020 and has a fixed top prize of €25,000,000.
All our games are designed with a mobile-first approach in the sense that we always start designing each game for the smallest screen first and then take it from there. Since mobile gameplay is clearly at the forefront when it comes to online casino, we wanted to ensure that our games are perfectly designed and optimised for a smooth player experience.
It’s very impressive what you’ve accomplished in such a short time, given that Hacksaw Gaming was founded in 2018. Could you give us a short recap of the important milestones in your journey?
Once our MGA license was approved in December 2018 we signed our first partner, Relax Gaming. Through them we went live with our first tier 1 client in April 2019 and by the end of Q2 of the same year we were live with several clients with the majority being tier 1 operators, and by the end of 2019 we had tripled our clients. 2020 has already been a major year for us as we have now doubled our client portfolio from the previous year, released our first premium game, and seen dramatic growth by reaching last year’s revenue targets within the first quarter alone.
We currently have 35 scratch cards, 4 slots and 1 premium slot live across several clients.
Stick ‘em which was launched in September 2019 went live exclusively with LeoVegas for two weeks and had put Hacksaw Gaming on the radar as a slot provider. We then released our ‘Pocketz’ slots which were designed with a mobile-first and portrait mode approach for easy mobile gameplay of which we currently have 3 in our portfolio: OmNom, Miami Multiplier and Cubes. In March 2020 we announced that we would be launching a new series of premium slots of which our first release, My Lucky Number.
Why are you doing what you are doing and what are your core values?
The reason we started Hacksaw Gaming was because we saw a gap in the market for new and innovative products. We started by reinventing the traditional scratchcard, then launched our slots which included our ‘Pocketz’ series that are designed primarily to be played on mobile, and now we have our first premium high fixed prize jackpot game on the market. Innovation, mobile-first experience and quality are the values which we uphold with every product that we design.
Speaking about quality, your release Stick’em is very popular in several regions and has been for months. Why do you think the game was so appreciated by the players?
Stick ‘em was our first slot and I believe it was popular due to its retro design.
It was nostalgic – again this plays into Hacksaw Gaming’s notion of reinventing classic products. The idea and inspiration behind Stick ‘em was that we wanted to do something totally different visually compared to other slot games on the market. The inspiration for the look and feel came partially from old games but mostly from vintage 1930s cartoons. There is even a colour offset across the game and a lower frame rate in the animations to mimic the old cartoon style.
What is the most important aspect of the game from your perspective?
The retro theme is clearly a unique factor when compared to other slots and also the fact that it includes sticky wilds which players seem to love. It’s also really user friendly - even your grandparents can play it ha!
In general, what shall we expect from your upcoming releases?
We always aim to give players more entertaining products with a huge focus on high fixed prizes so players should expect to see more fun and quirky games with big win opportunities. We have quite a few in the pipeline so watch this space.
Would you mind sharing some insights on a few upcoming titles?
We have some interesting releases planned for the rest of the year. Our next premium high fixed prize game is called Haunted Circus and will feature a fixed jackpot of €2,500,000 which is due for general release in June. The exciting features include free spin retriggers and mystery multipliers that can really maximize players’ winning potential. Design wise it still has that characteristic retro feel, however we have taken a new direction with this game so we are interested to see how players respond to it but we think it will be a great success.
Cash Compass will be another ‘Pocketz’ slot release coming out by the end of Q2 and we think this will be very popular as well. It’s a desert island themed game with expanding wild symbols and an infinite spins bonus wheel. Aesthetically, this game is more in line with our well-known quirky designs so it is easily recognizable as a Hacksaw Gaming product.
Looking forward to trying them out! Which Hacksaw release is your personal favourite?
I have to say Cubes without a doubt. It’s been a great success overall and very well received by players and operators alike. It’s has an interesting sort of gameplay with its expanding grid and rotating cubes, unlike any other cascading slot so it’s uniqueness has definitely shined since its launch in mid-March.
Do you have a unique story behind the scenes of one of your productions that you could share with our readers?
The original inspiration for Cubes came from a 3D Christmas Advent calendar experiment with boxes. Once we had the initial idea that there was something in the animated boxes demo we started figuring out a gameplay that could work by utilizing the six sides of a cube as different symbols. We wanted to create a satisfying game that had a slower pace and was fun to watch. So far it has proved to be one of our most popular releases to date.
Why should players play your games?
The technology and design that are used by Hacksaw Gaming were built with users in mind to focus on the mobile-first approach.
When designing our games, we always aim to excite the player and ensure that they feel comfortable and familiar with our product without getting lost in complicated gameplay. Another important factor is the mathematics. We try to ensure that the mathematical models reflect the game’s style so that the players have an overall great experience throughout the game.
Our first slot release we introduced a music engine with dynamic progression to enhance the player’s experience as a nice little extra. Our scratchcard games are offered with 3 different RTP levels to suit each of our operators’ needs and to ensure flexibility when it comes to competing products on the market. Our ‘Pocketz’ series enables players to enjoy every one of our games on the go as well as keeping themselves comfortable by playing in portrait mode. Our premium high fixed prize jackpot games allow players and operators to engage, play and win huge fixed jackpots with minimum bets allowing players of all levels to participate and all operators, no matter how established, to offer their customer base huge potential winnings and thrilling gameplay. We also understand that players enjoy high volatile games which is why the majority of our games have a medium to high volatility.
Before we wrap up this interview we would like to hear what you want to see in the future?
We are expecting to see huge growth within Hacksaw Gaming within the coming months. This will include a bigger team and portfolio and expansion into more markets to deliver the biggest fixed prize jackpot games in the industry by the end of the year. Looking back at how far we’ve come in 18 months I think it’s safe to say that we are here to stay. We may be young but we are getting stronger every day thanks to our ambitious strategies, skilled team and strong partnerships. It is because of their support that we are in the position we are today.