As seen on Malta Focus.
Daniel Eskola, CCO at Relax Gaming details the optimism that has sustained the company for the past decade, and the winning formula to come out the other side of the pandemic stronger than before.
We hear an anniversary is coming up for Relax Gaming - 11 years. How does the company reflect on its journey to date?
It has been an amazing journey so far – and we’ve really driven differentiation in the industry to the point where we can consider our offering unique.
Our story starts at humble beginnings, which saw us develop one of the first player ecosystems with easy-to-use poker software, which even today, after a decade, is still going strong. The same has rung true for our other initial product verticals, such as with our bingo offering, Hexabingo, which was a real game-changer for online bingo at the time.
Our market-leading casino platform has also come a long way, stealing the spotlight with hit titles such as Money Train 2 and Temple Tumble to name a few. Complemented by our aggregation platform, our presence in the field has grown exponentially, through the unique, localised content that we deliver to market at speed.
It’s been a memorable 11-year journey full of many accomplishments, and we’ve no plans of slowing down. From our early days in Finland, we’ve gone on to expand our network of hubs to include eight European countries, and we’ve set our sights on many more, I have no doubt that 2021 will be another exciting year.
How are you planning to mark the occasion? And has the pandemic perhaps changed those plans?
We had big plans to celebrate our 10 years in 2020, with the entire company coming together to mark the historical occasion. However, given the events of the last 12 months, we’ve unfortunately had to postpone these celebrations.
When the pandemic is finally behind us, we will certainly be making up for lost time – and it’ll be our aim to combine our 10th and 11th year anniversaries for an even bigger celebration. Until that day comes, however, we’ve made sure to keep ourselves busy organising a wealth of virtual events for the team, with a raft of activities including tournaments, which have been a particular favourite – offering some great prizes for our teams across Europe to enjoy.
How have you adapted your operations in Malta during the past year?
Working from home has been the norm since the early spring of 2020, so that’s certainly resulted in changes that were needed to adapt to the situation. Looking back, I’m very happy with how we’ve adjusted, as well as pulling out all the stops to ensure we can successfully engage and work with our teams remotely. This has ensured that we’ve been able to maintain both the high productivity that we pride ourselves on at Relax, as well as keeping spirits high. Despite the obstacles, last year was an outstanding year commercially – and I’m very grateful to everyone that helped to make that happen – ensuring that we could continue to help the industry evolve and scale in line with the opportunities that last year presented.
Looking forward, we’ve moved into a new, upgraded and larger head office in Malta, and I can’t wait to welcome everyone back when things eventually return to ‘normal’, however that may look! Until then, we’ll be doing what we do best – driving differentiation. With plenty of incentives in the works to keep up morale, we’ll be running group activities and other means to help our teams follow a healthy lifestyle while working from home – as well as monthly virtual presentations and games to bring everyone together, even if it is only online.
What are the company's expansion goals in 2021 and are there any new markets you are targeting?
Rapid market growth has been a benchmark for annual success for Relax in recent years and looking ahead, I expect that to be no different.
On the commercial front, we’ve got plenty of plans for expansion – from our newly opened Stockholm games studio, that will no doubt deliver on our roadmap for high-quality content, complemented by aggressive moves into new jurisdictions, such as Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and eventually – the US. The UK market is also another strong growth area for us, reflected in our growing physical presence in Gibraltar. We’ve seen recent launches with the likes of Paddy Power, Betfair and 32Red, as well as plenty more announcements in the pipeline for later in the year.
In my view, growth of this nature is best maximised by applying the correct, bespoke strategy for each region, including the provision of localised content unique to those player demographics. Catering to regional tastes and trends can be greatly enhanced with a diverse suite of titles and the equivalent insight into individual markets, and it’s one of the things we really do best when it comes to driving differentiation and creating a unique experience for players.
Of your existing markets, which would you say are your strongest-performing currently?
Looking at our portfolio, we have Money Train 2 and Temple Tumble as our two standout performers- both of which are proving to be global blockbusters that smash expectations in every market we’re live in. Having said that, and taking a more historical view, we traditionally have a strong foothold in the Nordics – and I’m very proud of the strength Relax has there in terms of brand value. As mentioned, we’ve got serious plans to further expand our gaming catalogue, and if the last few years are anything to go by, it won’t be long until we reach our targets!