Home Win: How 1X2 Gaming Broke Out of Virtual Sports To Score in the Slots Market

If you’ve ever stumbled across the virtual football games at bet365 or Ladbrokes while perusing the latest slots releases, chances are you’ve hit upon a 1X2 Gaming game.

The UK-based software developer calls ‘Silicon Beach’ in Brighton home, and it is a pioneer in online fixed odds and virtual football games.

Eschewing the bright lights of London for the relatively calmer waters of the south coast is an indication of how this outfit thinks.

During 1X2’s 12-year lifespan, the company has brought out some of the most popular virtual betting games around. But fixed-odds betting is just a small part of the company’s output; they also have an impressive range of online slots in their bulging portfolio.

We hooked up with 1X2’s Will Talbut to talk slots, developing new games, and where sportsbetting is heading in the next few years.

How do you decide what slots will be released? Can you describe the process briefly from drawing board to final release?

From slot idea to slot release, the process for releasing a slot generally takes about six months. In that time we have to come up with an idea, get it approved by senior management, build the code for the game, draw the assets or have them drawn from an outside source, test the game extensively and then release the game to operators.

What’s the most difficult part of the development process?

Out of the whole process, the hardest part is coming up with a solid idea for a slot. In the current market there are thousands of different slots available to players, so we have to validate why a particular idea is worthy of being built and then released. This process can take longer than you think, as there’s nothing worse than spending months on a particular slot, only to see it flop on release. We offer slots which cover the majority of themes in the market, and all of them have their own unique twist.

1X2 is most well-known for virtual sports. Are these the games you’re most pleased with?

This may be seen as a predictable answer, but yes, our virtual sports games are the games that everyone in the company is most proud of. Over the past 18 months we’ve produced a number of outstanding slots, which have been very well received by the market, but it’s hard not to feel proud about our virtual sports games.

We first launched in 2002 with Virtual Soccer and have expanded our portfolio to feature 15 virtual sports games, with more in the pipeline for 2016. Our virtual sports games may look a bit dated, but customers continue to play them due to the fact that the gameplay is so appealing and realistic. The fact that a player can bet on the majority of the major football tournaments from around the world in a virtual environment is something we’re particularly proud of, and our virtual sports portfolio recently received a nomination at the EGR B2B Awards in the Virtual Sports Supplier category.

Are there any funny/weird ideas that nearly got off the ground or got left on the drawing board?

Our creative team is always coming up with new ideas for slots. We have to narrow the choices down to the most feasible options, as we can’t always go with what’s the funniest idea. I can tell you that we will be releasing a couple of slots in 2016 which we are unique both in their presentation and gameplay. These include a Gapo The Clown slot which is another title that’s been produced in partnership with Caliber Comics. It will be a truly unique slot.

As a pioneer in virtual sports games, why do you think there’s such excitement surrounding online sports games right now? Is it a fad that will continue?

I think real-money online sports betting is only going to increase in the coming years. In America you’ve seen the increase in DFS [Daily Fantasy Sports], with an increasing number of companies offering these services for players. The reason for the increase in the US is mostly down to the restrictions on gambling on live events, so gambling fans need to find other mediums in order to fulfill their needs.

We feel that virtual sports play a similar role. During the regular football season, there are occasions when matches will be on every single day of the week, with the European competitions, domestic leagues and cup competitions giving customers even more choice when it comes to watching and betting on sport. But for some customers, these live events aren’t enough and they turn to playing virtual sports. Gamblers now want a different betting experience and – more importantly – quick wins.

As a leader in virtual sports games, but also a slots manufacturer, do you see more scope for blending the two types of game – and if so, how?

I think it’s important to keep the the game categories separate, and not to go down the route of a ‘hybrid’ game. That would be risky, and there’s no guarantee of success.

We generally find that players who play our virtual sports just want to play the virtual sports, and aren’t interested in slots. We even have players on some of our operators who’ve played one of our virtual sports games religiously for years, with little interest in some of our newer virtual sports games. For that matter, they aren’t even interested in our newer sports games either.

The situation is similar with a slots player, who will make their way round an online casino going from game-to-game. Most likely it will be slot-to-slot until they find a slot where they feel lucky.

What’s the future for 1X2 Gaming? More slots, or more virtual sports games?

Virtual sports will always be a huge part of 1X2gaming’s DNA, as we were the founders of virtual sports.

However, over the past 18 months we’ve tried to identify ourselves as much more than just a virtual sports provider. We’ve managed to do this by offering slots which are of a high quality and enjoyable for players.

Our partnership with Caliber Comics, which will see us release a minimum of four ‘branded’ slots [following on from the recently-released Deadworld], was a big step for us as a company. It allowed us to offer slots which actually do have a story. Deadworld is a comic book series which has been published since 1981, and now it’s been ported into the gambling industry.

We have also recently released our new Virtual Racing product in partnership with Leap-Gaming. It features horse racing, greyhounds and speedway, with velodrome and tennis being released in 2016. This is a project which we’re extremely excited about as it means that we as a software provider can offer to our customers the complete data-driven virtual sports package. That’s completely unique to the industry.

Is mobile gaming the most important area for expansion or is it still about online?

We already have ourselves an extensive mobile portfolio, with over 40 games currently available and more in the pipeline. The focus is definitely on making games which can be ‘dual-release’ for operators. At our operators that offer both desktop and mobile, the value in mobile slots players has increased substantially over the past few years. That trend is only going to increase, with mobile being the focal point for software developers.