Blueprint Gaming Plans to Expand into the Nordic and Italian Market by Next Year
Blueprint Gaming, the British arm of the German gaming company – Gauselmann, has announced that they are expanding their business into the Nordic regions of Europe. Blueprint Gaming has established itself as one of the most accomplished slot game developers in the UK and has now decided to move on to other markers via casino operators such as LeoVegas and Unibet. Blueprint Gaming has launched its titles with the two online casinos only two months ago. Players get to enjoy Gauselmann games alongside another popular developer, NetEnt on these casino sites.
The Swedish company, NetEnt, has seen a lot of success in the UK in recent years. It seems like Blueprint gaming has decided to follow in its footsteps to try and forge the same level of success.
The Chief Operating Officer at Blueprint Gaming, Matt Cole, confirmed that many companies are trying to emulate NetEnt’s success by copying their style of games. However, he added that while Blueprint games may seem a lot like their rival’s titles, their games offered more overall entertainment features instead of just relying on free spins.
He said, “We are quite different. There has been a lot of focus on NetEnt and NetEnt’s style of products, which are very free spins- based. Our games are richer bonus games with a lot of activity and a lot of entertainment.”
Cole used the example of one of Blueprint’s latest hits to illustrate his point. He mentioned that while NetEnt games generally offer a lot of free spins, a game like Blueprint’s King Kong Cash offers rich graphics and 14 features that contributes to the overall player experience.
Cole also mentioned that NetEnt has long dominated the Nordic market, therefore, players there are very much accustomed to their style of games. With Blueprint Gaming expanding into that market, players will need a bit of time to get used to and fall in love with their style of games.Initially people were not convinced that NetEnt would be successful in the UK market, but they were eventually very well received. It is hard to deny that there is a cultural difference between players in different countries. This means there is no guarantee that Blueprint games will do well in the Nordic region in the long run. However, Cole is optimistic that their games will be recognised for their high entertainment factor and players will recognised and welcome a new kind of product to the market.
Cole admitted that while Blueprint has received a positive initial response, it is hard to tell if that will stick in the long run or fade with the novelty.
He said, “The early signs are positive but it takes time for people to get into new product types.”
He also mentioned that players in Europe have grown accustomed to large network jackpots that Blueprint gaming does not offer.
He said, “The other thing European players are used to is large network jackpots while our games are often game-specific and always operator-specific.”
Time will tell if that will hinder their future success.
Despite not taking part in large network Jackpots, Blueprint Gaming has produced some big winners over the years. Just last month, one lucky player won GBP £3.1 million on SkyVegas while playing on a Blueprint title – The Pig Wizard. Not long before that another player won GBP £1.6 million with the same operator. This time, the jackpot was won on the Jackpot King feature, which brings the jackpots from 10 games together into one pot. However, true to Blueprint’s gaming format, the jackpot was specific to one operator and not across a network.
Cole Explained the big wins by saying that the company has started doing jackpots on games that are specific only in the UK instead of the entire region. This would inevitably increase the chance for UK customers to win more jackpots.
He said, “The key difference is that we are now doing big jackpots in the UK with games that people want to play, whereas previously there were networked jackpots with games that were not UK- focused games.”
He also added that by introducing big jackpots into popular titles people are no longer playing a game only for a chance to win big but simply for the fun of it.
He said, “People are enjoying the games and the jackpots rather than just having to play a game because it has a big jackpot.”
Given that Blueprint titles have been popular in the UK for a while now, it seems surprising that they did not venture into other markets sooner. Even back in 2013, when Gaming Intelligence compiled a list of the internet’s most popular slots, Blueprint had three games in the top 10. Some of those titles, like the popular Genie Jackpot, are still offered to players through big operators such as William Hill, Paddy Power, Bet365 and SkyBet today.
The German gaming powerhouse, Gauselmann, acquired the small Nottinghamshire- based slots developer in 2008. At the time the company only employed a small number of people, who were making games for the land- based market. At the time of the purchase, Blueprint Gaming had an exclusive contract to build games for Inspired’s fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT), they had no online presence. In 2011, William Hill Plc. and Blueprint gaming signed a contract; William Hill launched Blueprint’s games on their online casino.
Cole described Blueprint’s success with William Hill as “kinda reverse omni- channel.”
Given that William Hill was the biggest bookie in the country at the time, this partnership brought some positive attention towards the games developer. The deal soon opened doors for contacts with the other big operators in the country; namely, Bet365, Paddy Power and the rest.
Today, most of the company’s revenues come from their online content. The rest of their income, 30 per cent, comes from content for FOBTs, arcades and pubs. In terms of markets, about 70 per cent of their revenue comes from the UK. Cole is determined to alter the last figure.
Given Gauselmann’s strong presence in Germany, it would seem normal for Blueprint Gaming to have a big presence there; but that does not seem to be the case. While both the revenues and the number of employees have grown steadily since Gauselmann acquired the company, they have not been able to match the tremendous growth that other companies, such as Playtech and NetEnt, have seen in the same time. Blueprint gaming has grown from having five to 100 employees over the last 9 years. Their gross revenue too has grown at a similar pace.
Cole explained that the German way of doing business is very different from that of the UK.
He said, “As a privately- owned German business, it has a very different business philosophy to a listed UK company.”
He highlighted that the German business philosophy focuses on the long term performance of the company, unlike the British, who seem to be more concerned about the quarterly bottom lines.
He said, “It always takes the long- term view with no short-term decisions taken to boost quarterly earnings or to impress analysts.”
On top of that, online casino games are not permitted by law in Germany. Their arcades and casinos players also prefer very different types of slot games. As a result, there was little Gauselmann could market to its home sector over the years
Cole mentioned that Gauselmann executives have had a hands- off kind of approach to Blueprint’s activities.
He mentioned, “They do not try to micro- manage but they do provide a great deal of support with regulation and licensing, which we would not be able to manage on our own.”
The German gaming giant has also bought other UK companies since they acquired Blueprint Gaming. These include pub machine supplier – Regal, High Street arcade operator – Praesepe, and pub machine manufacturer – Betcom. Blueprint Gaming happens to be the main developer for all those operators.
Operators Want Good Games
The company has a dedicated team that makes games for the pubs market in the UK. It is known that most players in UK Pubs are known for exclusively playing on traditional fruit machines. However, the Blueprint team has managed to drag the popularity of their slot games up by a big margin over the last three years.
Cole said that players seem to prefer the same gaming titles, be it online or on the land based- machine. However, games often need to be modified to suit the platform. He also mentioned that the visibility of specific game titles in pubs and arcades clearly help their popularity online and vice versa.
He said, “Games that work online invariably work well in the land- based market although we might customise it. We have 4,000 machines in pubs and the main product on those is slot games. The prominence of those games online and in betting shops has helped move those brands into new markets for us.”
Blueprint Gaming With Significant Success
Blueprint has outlined an extensive expansion plan for the future. After launching in the Nordic region, they plan on applying for a license for Italy. They hope to launch in the Italian market as early as next year.
While Blueprint Gaming has seen significant success in the home market, Cole believes that there is still scope for growth in the UK. They launched with Amaya’s PokerStars last year, which has helped both their reputation and revenues.
Cole said that operators now hold Blueprint in high regard for their high quality products.
He said, “We get really strong support from operators in terms of the marketing and placement of the games because at the moment, we’re in the middle of a purple patch.”
Cole also added that the company’s revenues seem to be spread pretty evenly throughout their top 10 titles, which means all the games have been made to the same high quality. While Genie Jackpots was one of their biggest hits, other titles such as Wish Upon a Jackpot, Viz, King Kong Cash and Top Cat, have also proven to be “evergreens.”
Cole acknowledged that the launch of their own RGS, three years ago, gave Blueprint’s developers access to the performance data for their titles and a deeper understanding of customer preference when it came to online games. However, no such parallel existed for the land- based market. The only feedback they had from those machines were the revenues earned against each game.
Cole concluded by saying that operators are always after games that give them successful results. This gives established developers an upper hand and always proves to be a challenge for new comers. He mentioned that as they enter the new gaming markets of the Nordic regions and possibly Italy in the next year, these challenges will become a reality that they will have to overcome.
“Operators want good games,” said Cole.
He concluded, “They’re not going to go for a game because they like the colour or the look of it. They want to see some pedigree. That’s a challenge for new entrants and it’s a challenge for us as we go into new markets.”