Shridhar Joshi, CEO of 2BY2 Gaming & Bob Schuijt joins us for an exclusive interview
This week we’ve met with Shridhar Joshi, CEO of 2BY2 Gaming and Bob Schuijt, the founder behind MB Consulting International INC to discuss the competitive iGaming market, 2BY2 Gaming and their upcoming releases.
Shridhar Joshi, CEO of 2BY2 Gaming
Welcome Shridhar! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us at SlotCatalog. Could you give the readers an introduction to the history behind 2BY2 Gaming and how you came to join the company?
It is great speaking with SlotCatalog, the premier slot content site. Prior to founding 2BY2 Gaming in 2012, I was the VP of Global Product Strategy at WMS and led their advanced R&D efforts, developed several of their successful products, launched five new businesses and created a ‘culture of innovation’. Throughout my 20+ years of experience in the gaming industry, I was issued 60+ patents. After a long career at WMS, I felt it was time to start afresh and get back to my entrepreneurial interests.
The company is based in Chicago, USA, and develops unique and innovative video slots, for delivery to customers across multiple delivery channels, such as mobile, PC/Desktop, land-based and social gaming. Collectively, the development team has nearly 125 years of game development experience.
Some well-known games developed by 2BY2 Gaming are: “Giant Riches”, “Wolf Heart”, “Fire N’ Fortune”, “The Sand Princess” and “Agent Valkyrie”. As of September 30, 2019, the total number of 2BY2 Gaming’s video slot games live on Microgaming’s Quickfire platform is thirty (30) games. We also have 19 games live on Leander Games, 4 games live on Playzido and 1 game live on AGS (e.g. formerly known as GameIom).
We partner with some of the most respected gaming companies in the traditional land-based casino markets, real-money online gaming markets and the free-to-play social gaming markets. Therefore, we can reach the target players no matter where they are playing!
During my time at WMS, I met with Bob Schuijt, owner of MB Consulting International INC, who was the online consultant for WMS at the time. Bob Schuijt has been active in the online gaming industry since 2004. After I founded 2BY2 Gaming I partnered with his company to become 2BY2 Gaming’s exclusive online distributor.
20 years of experience is rather unique. What’s the reason behind 2BY2 Gaming’s success?
At the core of our success is our senior game development team who all have tremendous video slot development experience. Having a team that truly understands what it takes to build a good video slot game is crucial. Having led much of the R&D efforts when employed at WMS, as well as having to create games for a truly global player audience, this type of experience and deep industry knowledge significantly contributed for 2BY2 Gaming to become successful online.
Another key driver to 2BY2 Gaming’s success is always using new and unique game mechanics and not being afraid to push the boundaries when introducing such new game mechanics.
A good example of this was the introduction of our patent-pending “Mega Play (Shared) Reels” game mechanics (e.g. like the “Wolfheart” and “Giant Riches” video slot games), essentially merging two 5X3 games into one, creating two 1X6 and two 3X3 reel sets. This creates many potential winning combinations for the players, creating much player excitement. Needless to say, these games became very successful online for us.
Last but not least, having a good game distributor who has good and long-standing relationships with all major online casino operators plays an important role as well.
Your company profile is unique compared to many other game providers as you’re both an online and land-based game provider. What’s your strategy for creating games?
We build games for online gameplay first. When a game is successful online, we will expand on this game to be placed on the casino floors in North American land-based casinos, which is a very big market. We have done this successfully already and we have close relationships with major land-based slot manufacturers. In addition, we will license it to social casino gaming companies for use in app stores & Facebook. Being able to create multiple revenue streams from the same game assets is very important to us, especially now the online content market has become so competitive.
We recently conducted a review of historical online gameplay data. What we discovered is that nowadays players are spending less on a per game basis. We believe that because of the abundance of game content available to the players, they tend to spread their money over more games. Therefore, it is critical that any new game content should have differentiated game features and a better play experience so that players want to play longer.
Interesting! I guess it makes sense as the number of studios and releases have skyrocketed the last years. The overall quality of the games released feels higher as well.
In this competitive landscape, what would you say is the most important aspect behind developing games?
It all starts with having the right math model. Having the right volatility level and hit frequency is extremely important.
I know this sounds boring, but it is the truth. Players want to enjoy the game, but they also want to be able to win big. There is nothing worse for a player to finally make it to the main feature and to be disappointed.
Often developers put all the cool stuff in the bonus rounds, making the base game not exciting to play. The reality is that players spend most of their time playing the base game! This is why we always introduce game features in the base game that make playing the base game exciting and allowing for big wins to happen. We like to give players the choice on how they want to experience the bonus rounds. Giving payers the illusion that they are in control of the game, makes them come back to play the game more often.
Aside from creating the right math model, making sure that the game mechanics work well with the math is crucial as well. Needless to say, great graphics, sounds and animations play an important role as well, especially in the Scandinavian markets. However, great graphics and animations alone do not make for a great game, math and good game mechanics do!
Thanks for an excellent answer Shridhar and for taking the time to chat with us.
Bob Schuijt, founder of MB Consulting International INC, the exclusive online distributor of 2BY2 Gaming
We’re going to continue by giving the word to Bob Schuijt, founder of MB Consulting International INC, the exclusive online distributor of 2BY2 Games.
Hi Bob! Let’s dive right into the fun part, your upcoming releases. What can us players expect?
We are excited to release our latest innovative game, called “Loki Wild Tiles”. This game was an IP protected VLT land-based game hit in Norway, specifically developed for Norsk Tipping by LED Gaming. We collaborated with Betsson and revamped the game graphically to make the game more relevant and attractive for online gameplay in the Scandinavian markets. We expect to release this game via Quickfire on all Betsson operated sites within the next couple of months, and soon thereafter to all other Quickfire operators.
In Loki Wild Tiles, the wins are determined by the arrangement of symbols in a 5x5 matrix. 3, 4 or 5 matching symbols horizontally or vertically award a win. Winning symbols are removed, after which any symbols higher up fall down to fill in the empty spaces and new matches may occur. If 3 symbols match, the middle symbol is replaced by a wild symbol (“Loki”). With each consecutive win, the multiplier increases by one.
The Game also contains a free spin bonus round with a new paytable and opportunities to win additional free spins. We are very excited to bring this game to market with the input and expertise of a Scandinavian heavyweight operator like Betsson.
Following this game, we are releasing “Wild Krakatoa” which has a unique reel splitting feature. On any spin, when a full stack of Wild Krakatoa symbols appears on Reel 3, it will break into pieces and add an extra reel making the game to be 6 reels. The Player is paid for any winning combinations and is awarded one or more free re-spins with centrer wild reels (3 & 4) held in place. In addition, each bonus symbol awards a bonus amount. This game also contains an exciting free spin bonus round in 6x3 format with 2 wild reels and opportunity to earn additional free spins.
Looking forward to playing both of these releases! What about your previous productions, which is your personal favourite?
It is hard to pinpoint one game and label it as the most favourite production. Having released so many games over the years and constantly pushing the boundaries by introducing new game mechanics, allowed us to learn from past hits and failures. We incorporated this knowledge in our newer games, therefore constantly improving our games.
The recent releases of Fiery Kirin (Asian themed), Golden Tides (underwater theme) and Aztec Temple Treasures (Aztec themed) are a clear example of this. All of these games have been well received by all major operators and are performing very well across all gaming sites.
According to our SlotRank, Aztec Temple Treasures seems to have been especially well-received in most markets. Speaking about rankings, what’s your interpretation of the competitive landscape today?
There is an abundance of game content in the marketplace leading to reduced game lifecycle, while at the same time the regulatory costs have skyrocketed. Because of this, it is getting harder to get a good return on your investments. To overcome these obstacles, from a company and game distribution perspective, we are very focused on the following:
- Creating truly unique and great games, so operators will always launch your games.
When speaking to the operators, I always ask them for their honest feedback, good or bad. This allows us to respond to market changes quickly. Staying relevant with your games is extremely important in a saturated market.
- Working closer and more strategic with key online operators.
We are very engaged with them and in direct discussion to create bespoke games, offer limited exclusivity, do joint promotions, secure better game placements in their casino lobby, etc.
- Increasing our footprint globally by entering new markets, therefore increasing our revenues.
Latin America, Eastern Europe, USA and Asia are important markets for us to increase our presence.
With so many titles to choose between, why should we play the games released by 2BY2 Gaming?
We don’t clone our games and every game we launch has unique game mechanics.
Players know that and are excited to try out the new game mechanics when the new video slot games become available online. As mentioned previously, players do like the fact that we give them various choices on how they want to experience their bonus rounds.
The variation of the bonus rounds is definitely a big plus and an innovative feature. While on the subject of innovation, what’s your predictions for the future?
We are very excited about 5G becoming a reality globally in the very near future. Most gameplay nowadays is thru mobile gameplay. This is the main reason we added portrait gameplay to all of our newer games. Although the rapid development of HTML 5 has been a true transformation, keeping the load times below a certain threshold is still challenging for mobile gameplay, especially in Asia. This will change with 5G, allowing us to deliver an even greater playing experience to the players.
The possibilities of adding AI, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and meta game features with 5G speeds is extremely exciting for us.
We are concerned with the ever-increasing regulatory costs and the uncertainty of regulation in certain key markets. We do see good momentum in the USA and we are hopeful that more states will start regulating online gaming. 2BY2 Gaming is well-positioned to take advantage of this opportunity in the USA if and when this happens. We recently started discussions to partner with some key players in the USA.
Operators are getting more focused on providing localized content to their players. This is a challenge for all game content developers, including 2BY2 Gaming. Building a great game for let’s say the Swedish market, doesn’t mean this game is suitable for UK players. Balancing the costs associated with creating localized game content and delivering a good return on investment of such a game is a difficult balancing act.
This interview is coming to an end. We would like to thank both you and Shridhar for taking the time to talk with us at SlotCatalog. Is there anything you’d like to share with our readers before we say goodbye?
2019 has been an exciting year for 2BY2 Gaming with the release of many new games. We look forward to continuing to improve on our games and to bring exciting new game mechanics to the market in 2020. Expanding our footprint in Asia, USA and Latin America is a key focus for us in 2020 and beyond. Hang on tight players, there is much more great and exciting game content coming your way from 2BY2 Gaming!