Incentive Games specializes in creating virtual sports games that complement and often enhance the quality of traditional sports betting. During a pandemic Incentive Games was one of the companies that offered a worthwhile alternative as the sport was temporarily suspended.
If we look at the many partnership announcements with platform providers and operators over the past few months, it's hard to imagine that the company is only two years old. In order to serve new partners and continue the pace of growth, the company has strengthened its highly skilled team, almost tripling the number of employees in the last 18 months.
While there have been no live sports events, the company has focused on its virtual sports products where it competes with companies such as Inspired Entertainment, Kiron Interactive, and Golden Race.
This did not go unnoticed and resulted in recognition in the industry. The company has appeared in EGR and SBC, and now we have the opportunity to talk to Incentive Games' commercial director, Victor Pronk.
Question: How important is it whether traditional sports betting can use the potential of virtual sports?
ABOUT: We think it's really important, but we'd say yes, right? Seriously, virtual sports were important before the pandemic, during the pandemic, and after the pandemic. As in all major industries, this is a necessity in most regions of the world. In a competitive market, operators cannot afford to ignore the needs of their players.
We should also not overlook the dependence of traditional betting operators on live events. As a result, we saw an increase in interest, not only in virtual sports, but also in number games, esports and simulated sports.
Q: Do you see more bookmakers are developing their virtual sports inventory today and do you attribute this in part to the share of Incentive Games in this sector?
AND: The virtual sports sector is where it is today due to the market leaders in this sector. We are aware of this. It was only with a player- and mobile-centered approach to the game compared to a technology-focused and retail approach that we were able to gain a share of the highly competitive African virtual sports market.
In an emerging African market, we are seeing virtual sports very dominant in the retail market, but lacking online traction. Developed by Incentive Games, Virtual Football League is optimized for minimal data usage and low-end phones. The game works on all browsers, including Opera Mini in Extreme mode. This market adaptation has allowed players in Africa to play their favorite game without having to be at a busy retail outlet or worry about high data costs.
This has allowed us to completely open up the low-end telephone market to our operator customers. As a result, sports customers such as BetLion see an average of 20% of their online players playing virtuals, and virtuals represent an average of 37% of all online sports tickets.
Q: Why is there a market for internet phone users who prefer low data? And how interesting is this segment for African ISPs?
AND: While Internet penetration in Africa is still below the world average (39.3% in Africa and 58.7% in the world average), the continent holds an amazing 32% of smartphone contracts in the world.
The problem is that Africa has some of the highest mobile data costs in the world (per 1 GB). Four of the top five countries are in Africa, with the price of one GB as high as $ 27 compared to $ 0. $ 09 in India. If we consider the average income of these countries versus the cost of data, it is clear that the low-data solution matters most to African online players.
This explains why virtual sports can easily replenish the 50% of all tickets sold in African retail, but it doesn't even have double-digit online value. The cost of the video animation source is too high for the player. Our games overcome this discrepancy. During a sports hiatus, one of our operators spotted the 95% of all online tickets from virtuals, representing the 80% of pre-pandemic revenue.
Q: Do you expect market leaders to follow soon? How long do you think data cost will be the deciding factor?
ABOUT: What we have seen is that competition between telecom operators is a prerequisite for lowering data transmission costs. This will happen, but it may take some time. Until then, virtual sports providers will have to adapt their games. We can already see that the first of our competitors comes out with a similar adapted game. Others are expected to follow.
Q: How are esports, virtual and simulated sports changing the landscape of traditional sports betting and the sports viewing experience?
ABOUT: Esports has grown over the years and shows the way for traditional sports to connect with an online audience. Examples of sports that are becoming available online are F1.TV (paid) and prime-time NFL games on Yahoo (free).
We've also seen esports rise in popularity during the pandemic with athletes like Max Verstappen / Lando Norris in F1 and Kevin Durant / Derrick Jones Jr in the NBA, introducing esports to a wide audience. In the same period, we saw at least one online operator taking bets on computer vs computer matches streamed on Twitch.
Q: Are you counting on simulators like the NBA? Could 2K and FIFA ultimately compete with the traditional sports they are based on?
ABOUT: It cannot be denied that the Alpha Generation (born after 2010) spends more time on mobile devices than in front of the TV or listening to the radio. This generation plays games regularly and, more importantly, watches others play games. Like Generation Z, they will be betting more on these events than any previous generation. We believe it will be some time before these generations become a significant factor in our industry, but if the last two decades have shown us something, change can come quickly.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face since then?
ABOUT: Our biggest challenge right now is meeting the growing demand for our games. We adapt our games to the appearance and style of our clients. As a result, it takes longer to install and configure our games than our competitors. We believe that the extra work is worth it and that it shows in the results of our games.
Another challenge we face is the continual development of our games. Our goal is to make our products competitive not only in developing markets but also internationally.