Frustrated by slow integration times and long launch queues, independent games developers are finding a new way to market through content aggregation platforms. But what appears to be creating a more fragmented supplier landscape may ultimately force leading service providers to change their approach to content.
For years it seemed impossible for independent games studios to make much of an impression on the iGaming market. At first suppliers operated closed platforms which only hosted their own content, but this changed as operators demanded a wider selection of games than the suppliers' in-house development teams could offer.
This effectively killed closed platforms and led to the rise of more open solutions, allowing a wider range of developers to bring new products to market.
But this turned out not to be the quick fix that everyone was looking for. Developers, restricted by a lack of funds, would often have to hitch their wagon to a single supplier, unable to afford multiple integrations or the cost to develop a proprietary remote gaming server.
These games would then be put in a queue where they would face epic waiting times before finally being released, often buried alongside numerous other new releases.
This simply wasn’t feasible, as Ike McFadden, director of business development for US-based studio MX Digital, explains.
“As the industry has matured it has become more and more like traditional media, you can have a bigger opening weekend [for a game] and then it may drop off faster in terms of performance, so you have a shorter time period to make the money you are going to make,” he explains.
MX Digital is something of a unique case. It produces a lot of branded content. This means that it has to pay a minimum sum to the rights holder each year simply to develop the games, irrespective of whether or not the game has launched, making it crucial to be generating revenue as quickly as possible. While other studios are not as heavily involved in developing branded games, the same issue remains - companies need to generate revenue to survive. If a game is stuck in stasis they will not be generating revenue.
The Games Company’s Ian Matthews agrees. While his company, co-founded with fellow bwin.party veteran Hans Winkelmann, has succeeded in developing genuinely innovative games, they continue to struggle to get content live when dealing with legacy platforms.