Not everyone will have heard of Playtech. But it is a huge, multi-billion-dollar company that has a global presence. Founded in Estonia back in 1999 by Israeli tech entrepreneur, Teddy Sagi, it has become the world’s largest supplier of online casino software. It is listed on the FTSE 250 of the London Stock Exchange, and it continues to grow today.
While Playtech’s success is arguably a “tech story”, joining so many other startups to have gained prominence due to understanding the power of the internet at the right time, i.e., back at the end of the 20th century, the company also demonstrates the ability of branding to build appeal. Like no other casino software developer, Playtech has marketed products with crossover appeal, and all types of businesses can learn from it.
First, what do we mean by branding in the context of casino software? Well, essentially you are talking about doing one of two things: Either taking an already-recognised element and incorporating it into your own product, or creating something from scratch that becomes identifiable with your product. For the former, we are talking about games based on elements of pop culture like movies.
Marvel sent Playtech into the stratosphere
Back in the 2000s, when online casinos really started to take off, Playtech decided on the ultimate branding exercise for crossover appeal – Marvel casino games. All your favourite superheroes were given officially-licensed games from Playtech, some of which used real footage from the movies. Playtech was well aware that a slot machine based on, say, Iron Man, would be more eye-catching than the standard “fruit machines”. And, it worked catapulting Playtech to the top of the online casino industry.
When Disney bought Marvel back in 2009, Playtech’s contract with Marvel would not be renewed (Disney wanted to remain family-friendly and not associate with gambling). But Playtech now understood the crossover appeal it had with its games, so it did the next best thing – signed a massive deal with Warner Bros. to create DC Superheroes slots. Today, Playtech has games based on all parts of the DC universe, including titles like Wonder Woman and Justice League.
While Playtech has seen unparalleled success with its DC Comics games, as well as many other titles based on pop culture like Gladiator based on the Oscar-winning Russell Crowe movie, it also does what few other developers have tried to do – create branding from scratch and build it over years of development.
Playtech has grown its own branded concepts
You can see some of the best examples of this building from the bottom up branding at www.casino.com/nz/playtech/, which showcases Playtech’s two signature series – Age of the Gods and Kingdoms Rise. As you might imagine, creating gaming concepts from scratch is a complex exercise, but Playtech has succeeded with aplomb here, launching two of the biggest series of casino games in history. Combined, the two series offer around 30 games, all interlinked and with interwoven themes. Age of the Gods games, for instance, provides tales of the Greek and Norse myths, with each game usually being themed on a particular legend.
Above all, what Playtech seems to have understood is that casino games should be about entertainment first and foremost. That doesn’t mean to say the games can’t be exciting – Playtech has the world’s largest progressive jackpot network – and some of its prizes can be worth millions of dollars. It’s more the case that Playtech has recognised that games should be fun, and perhaps even include compelling storylines. Kingdoms Rise, for example, is based on an open fantasy world that has hints of Game of Thrones. Like that popular tv series, Playtech fans eagerly await the next chapter.
Playtech certainly isn’t the only software developer to try to brand individual games, nor is it the only one to strike licensing deals with movie studios. But it puts this front and centre of its operations, and it may have changed the face of the casino industry in the process.