Join us as we sit down with Vladyslav Garanko, CMO of Platipus, to learn the secrets of one of the fastest growing developers in the industry.
Founded in 2014, Platipus has quickly established itself as one of the hottest iGaming providers around. The studio’s 70+ slots certified for multiple leading jurisdictions (among which are the United Kingdom, Malta, Italy, Sweden, and the Isle of Man — where the company is headquartered) are an enviable calling card, but Platipus clearly isn’t planning to rest on its laurels.
To learn more about the company’s growth and plans for the future, and to get an insight into its processes and how it dealt with Covid-19, we reached out to Vladyslav Garanko, Platipus’ CMO.
Slotegrator: First of all, congratulations are in order as Platipus recently released its 70th slot. In terms of game development, what do you do differently today than when you started back in 2014?
Vladyslav Garanko: Thank you! We definitely had a little celebration for our 70th slot release. And we have something exciting planned, but I can’t let you in on this surprise just yet.
As for what we do differently — plenty has changed in our structure and how new teams and divisions are formed. We used to create one game at a time, while now we simultaneously develop two or three. That’s a massive productivity improvement that makes for a completely different experience and pace. Still, many things have remained the same: our core values, the care we put into our games’ graphics and sound effects, and the amount of research we conduct before the game even makes it to the drawing board. In essence, we are still doing the same things that made Platipus a leading games provider, but better and on a bigger scale.
S: How has the pandemic impacted the game development process?
VG: I can’t say it had a significant impact on our development process, as our teams have always been extremely flexible, with many people employed remotely. But we did put a lot of effort into supporting our employees psychologically. The pandemic had a negative impact on everyone’s mental health. If you hear reports of people getting hospitalised by the thousands, or you know someone who fell seriously ill because of Covid-19, it’s bound to take a toll. Being unable to meet your friends or even leave your home due to a lockdown further adds to it — that’s why we did our best to help. We created opportunities for employees to communicate outside of their teams; we rolled out a free healthcare insurance plan; and, most importantly, we made a conscious effort to remind everybody that they are not alone, that they matter, and that, should anything happen, they will have our support. After all, people are our most valuable asset, so we go to great lengths to keep them happy. Without our dedicated teams of designers, testers, mathematicians, QA specialists, salespeople, and support personnel, we wouldn’t have been able to reach our current level of success in such a short time.
S: Who comes up with ideas for new features? Is it something that game designers alone focus on, or do other teams get to pitch in as well?
VG: Let me briefly explain our game creation process. We start from the research, where the game design team gathers information on what themes are popular, what will be trending in the future, what our partners are interested in, and so on; this typically takes a couple of weeks. Afterwards, our design team draws an alpha stage so we can get a general idea of what the game will look like. We then have a brainstorming session with our mathematicians to consider what features could be implemented. At this point, the discussion goes public: anyone within the company can join in and suggest an idea. In essence, we are throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks. We usually end up with a couple of good options for the game mechanics, and we hold a senior meeting to finalise the game specs. Once that’s done, we start producing the actual game.
S: Can you tell us a bit about your quality assurance process?
VG: Our QA team is involved in every stage of production. They have access to alpha builds and they usually are the first to have an idea of what the game will be about. They often provide great suggestions regarding visuals and mechanics — sometimes perhaps a bit over the top, but generally really, really good. Quality Assurance is pretty much the most time-consuming process for us. The QA team is responsible for a vast array of tasks, some of which are obvious, like hunting for visual bugs and crashes in the games; yet, others might be a bit more surprising — for example, ensuring theme consistency in the artwork. There have been cases where games had the artwork redesigned or the mechanics replaced due to feedback from QA. For example, Lord of the Sun — one of our most recent slots — was initially supposed to feature three Egyptian gods and somewhat different bonus mechanics, but it had to be simplified following the QA team's report. Finally, our QA team is known for pushing the design and animation teams to optimise the games' size — finding a balance between flashy animations and quick loading times is paramount.
S: QA covers all the technical aspects involved in the functioning of a slot, but what a slot ultimately has to deliver is fun. How do you make sure that your games are actually fun to play?
VG: Well, first of all, we spend a lot of time bringing each game to life. We put dozens of hours into every aspect of a title. And after that, once the game hits beta, we make it available to every member of the Platipus team. Our employees have different backgrounds and hail from different continents, so gathering their feedback is a good proxy to see if the game is ultimately “fun”. But, as you know, “fun” is very subjective, so I guess you can never wholly satisfy everybody. Except for Wild Spin — that game was just perfect!
S: What do operators love the most in your slots?
VG: That they are "sticky". Our partners tell us that players tend to stick with our games, and that these generally have a high lifetime value. I believe that it comes down to a combination of our amazing game design and optimisation for mobile devices. Because — as I'm sure you are aware of — nowadays more and more people prefer to play via mobile devices, and we expect this tendency to continue. Providers that can supply convenient, high-quality, and lightweight games will get significantly more traction than those that can't.
S: What impact has working with iGaming aggregators had on Platipus’ scope and scale of distribution?
VG: The positive impact was genuinely huge. It's no overstatement to say that strategic partnerships with aggregation networks and platform providers such as Slotegrator, EveryMatrix, SoftSwiss, Vivo Gaming, BetConstruct, and many others were key in allowing us to grow at such a fast pace.
S: What are your thoughts on the relationship between the industry and social media?
VG: It's hard to comment. On the one hand, we can see that social media are becoming more restrictive and hostile towards the gambling industry; on the other, we feel the need to provide more information to players and potential partners. That's why we put a lot of effort into making the best of these communication tools within the limits imposed by their guidelines. After all, social media are essential for raising awareness about our brand and what is happening in the industry.
S: Last time we touched base, Platipus wasn’t running tournaments. Things have changed since; can you tell us what your experience has been so far with this marketing tool?
VG: Yes, we have been using it a lot lately, and we are currently developing our own advanced tournament tool. It's a rather effective promotional activity — perfect for generating interest towards our brand and raising awareness of our latest releases. While it can be quite pricy, so far it has been working better than traditional promotions.
S: What can we expect from Platipus in the future?
VG: Obviously, you can expect even more amazing games with impactful characters and daring themes. We are also planning to refresh our company image, and — as I just mentioned — to make our own tournament tool available to operators.