“Younger players want games, not slots!” - Interview with Mark Taffler at Green Jade Games
Skill elements, portfolio composition and market consolidation is in focus in our talk with Mark Taffler, CCO at Green Jade Games.
Mark Taffler, CCO at Green Jade Games
Welcome Mark! Before we dive in we would like you to introduce yourself and describe your history in the iGaming industry.
Thank you Jonas, it’s a pleasure to be here. Well, my name is Mark, I’m a 42 year old English chap and currently am proud to hold the role as CCO at Green Jade Games.
I have worked in the iGaming industry for over 3 years. I entered by proxy really, segwaying from Sponsorship Sales (Football and Music) in the UK, serendipitously meeting someone in Spain who knew of a position in Malta, and the rest, as they say….
I flew to Malta for the very first time in my life and joined NetEnt which was a truly wonderful journey and a superb introduction to the industry.
How did you end up joining Green Jade Games?
I had for a long time watched Green Jades’ rise and their humble yet professional approach, especially the founders Jesper Karrbrink and Benedict McDonagh, so when I saw an advert on LinkedIn I couldn’t help but apply. I had many super engaging conversations with 2 of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever spoken to in the industry, gave it my best shot and hoped for the best!
Green Jade Games was found in 2018, with your first release at the end of the year right?
Indeed. As most people know we used to be a part of Mr Green, but have been independently owned since Mid 2019.
How would you describe the pros and cons of being such a young game producer?
I don’t believe in cons, We can find cons in every situation, conversely we can find pros, therefore I choose pros everytime and the pros of being a smaller, less well established studio is the fact that we offer something completely different. We are the only company (I know of) that offers 3 different types of online gambling content (slots, Knockout slots and Arcade Skill games)
What was the vision set out at Green Jade Games when you started?
We exist to solve a problem. And that problem is the future of gaming. I don’t say this to sound arrogant or contrived, I say it because it’s a fact.
The industry is in a state of flux, a period of necessary maturity whereby consolidation is the main strategic route to Market Share, as we’ve seen recently with the RT, NE, Evo flip purchase. This will continue but you’ll be left with the same number of players, just playing on less casinos and using the same content. If this doesn’t drastically change in the next 3-5 years, we have an issue. The younger players want ‘games’ not slots. They are all cash rich time poor, savvy internet users who demand entertainment and ease of use from everything they do (Netflix, Itunes, Tiktok etc). Therefore by offering skill games, we’re solving a problem before it’s become terminal.
What is your ambition going forward?
To continue our strategy with slots, KO slots and brilliant arcade skill games, and enjoy the ride.
What is it like working at Green Jade Games?
It’s amazing. We’re a small company, we all get stuck in and we all drive towards the same goal. We’re aligned, we have great leadership, wonderful shareholders and superb content, so it’s a joy to speak to customers about what our offering can bring to their bottom line.
Is there anything different today, compared to when you started out?
Every day is different let alone in three months. We’ve got more content and more customers :)
I must compliment you on your game portfolio, it’s quite impressive that you’ve released 15 games of which several have been top250 SlotRank for different markets.
Thank you, that’s really kind. It’s hard developing games. We are all players, we know what we like. We all have experience in the industry so we know what works historically, but we don’t want to iterate. We want to innovate so we have to stay true to our core and build Arcade skill games no one built before yet service the mass market.
Which of your games so far are you the most satisfied with and why?
For example Jade Puzzle and Candy Prize BIG perform just as well as any slot. Which we find quite mind blowing.
Which title did you learn the most from (either during development or after the release)?
I think we learn from every game launch. Look at Jade Puzzle. It was amazing to see how people adapted to a totally new game experience, with more than doubled session times as well as 100% higher one month retention. And then when we launched Candy Prize BIG, we tweaked the maths slightly so it felt more like a slot - then the monetization just skyrocketed. We saw the same with our first game Hammer of Fortune where we introduced skill in a slot. Quite a lot of players just loved that game and it is still doing quite good numbers after almost two years in the market.
Your 2nd release was Finding MrGreen. What was it like developing an operator branded slot compared to when you can come up and develop the concepts all by yourself?
Not that different to be honest. The game dev process is the same, we have an idea of what we want to produce, we make sure that the maths and features are absolutely on point and then ensure the creative is really exciting.
If anything it was easier to co produce because we took direction from Mr Green.When it’s our own game we can navel gaze sometimes and move away from the real task at hand.
What upcoming titles are in your roadmap and why should we look forward to them?
Well, I’m biased so I’m going to say - all of them! However, We have some absolutely crazy skill games, like Galaxy Rouges - it’s a first person space shoot em up ha! We also have a really cool Cash or Crash game, Western Rush coming that is so fun to play. Gladius KO, our next KO Slot is probably the best-balanced game we built. And Intergalactic Cash Smash with 99% RTP this game is so fast that it will blow your mind. As you can see the list is almost endless, ha ha.
What player audience would you say your games are flirting the most with, is it casual, intermediate or hardcore players?
I think we’ve moved past the flirting stage, we’re dating now. We offer a blended portfolio of content. Slots for Hardcore, KO for intermittent and hardcore and Arcade SKill for a brand new segment. I wouldn’t use the term casual player, I would say that we are working hard to ensure that we help our partners to grow their customer base using our insights into the user behaviours of players whom will enjoy the Arcade Skill games.
Is there an interesting story behind one of your games that our readers should know?
Stamp Wild. Our best performing slot. Was conceptualised, designed mathematically and influenced creatively by our Co- Founder and CEO Ben McDonagh. He is a long time philatelist and his passion for Stamps and Slots seemed to just gel perfectly. I’m trying to get him to make some more but it’s not working so far…
If you could only choose four slot games to play for the rest of your lives, two of your games and two games from your competitors. Which games would you choose and why?
Easy. Our games, I’d play Candy Prize BIG, SideBet11K and Gladius KO. I can not only spend a good amount of them enjoying my play but I can also win big! Competitor games, I love TED, not just because I love the character but the maths and the features are fun.
The slot industry has evolved a lot during the last years. In your opinion, what major change, trend or feature has had the most impact (excluding regulation)?
I believe it is maturity. And that is not something that is limited to the slot industry.It’s a natural evolution in any business. 10 years ago everyone was just printing money, then more companies joined the industry taking market share from existing companies, price wars, new products all ensued, and now consolidation is the trend. M&A will be the headline shift in this industry for the next 3 years until consolidation has settled down leaving us with maybe a handful of suppliers and casinos, I liken it to the Telco / Mobile handset vertical. And then we have the technology shift driving more advanced games.
We know that things like 5G will totally change how the player consumes games and what we can offer them in the form of more advanced game play.
I think we - with our Arcade Skill Games like Galaxy Rogues - and Evolution with their more advanced Live Games are best positioned for this right now.
What are your predictions for the iGaming industry future in the next three years?
I hope we can find a balance between needed regulation and the entertainment we are offering. We have to. The current situation is not only jeopardizing the industry but Govts will see that they can make sufficient revenues and keep people safe at the same time.
Thanks Mark on behalf of SlotCatalog, it has been a pleasure to chat with you. Is there anything you would like to say to our readers before we say goodbye?
NO, THANK YOU. It was my pleasure. All I will say is - Do you have the skill to gamble?!