We sat down with Igor Rus, Head of Barcelona-based up-and-coming studio Amigo Gaming, to get a recap of the company’s exciting first year in the iGaming industry.
Amigo Gaming is a fast-growing iGaming provider hailing from sunny Barcelona, Spain. True to its roots, Amigo Gaming has delivered over 15 vibrant slots in its first year of operations, establishing itself as one of the most promising newcomers in our industry.
Join us as we learn from Igor how he got to launch this project, what makes Amigo Gaming unique, the challenges and achievements of 2021, and what we can expect from them in 2022.
Slotegrator: Hello Igor, thank you for taking the time to sit down with us. Tell us a bit about your experience in the gaming industry. How did you enter it, and what was your career path before launching Amigo Gaming?
Igor Rus: I started my career in gaming on the land-based operations side, where I dealt with data from both slots and tables. Analyzing gameplay and player segment data, together with a great team we managed to get an insight of how different patrons with their own set of characteristics respond differently to a variety of games’ properties. I was involved in gaming operations including the setting up of loyalty programs, then I continued my career with a leading technology company providing back end technology platforms. Finally, I landed on the ambitious project of offering online slot machines in this incredibly dynamic industry. The various phases of my career are very complementary and I believe they allowed me to create a powerful network of friends within iGaming.
S: Amigo Gaming is a very young project. Launching it in the middle of the pandemic must have presented some unique challenges — can you tell us how it has impacted your original plans, if at all?
IR: The pandemic was a time of reflection for me, but I quickly jumped on the promising project of providing online slots to the market. I believe that, thanks to an incredibly dedicated team, we had the time to lay out Amigo’s strategy — including the product choice and ramp up plans — without too much of the operational noise that normal times bring.
Even though I’m dismayed by all the bad things that the pandemic brought to the world and I feel really sorry for the people negatively impacted, I perceived the situation as a challenge to create and bring new online gaming products to the market.
S: Give us a little recap of Amigo Gaming’s 2021. What achievements are you particularly proud of?
IR: During the first part of the year our focus was mainly on setting up solid foundations for the future growth of the company in every field. On the technology side, we were polishing backend technology and our initial set of classic games. We are now operating with the capacity to produce two games a month. We were also adding more and more people to the amazing team, both in Barcelona and in other locations where we have a presence.
In the second half of the year we were mainly focused on presenting our product to the public by exhibiting and visiting some iGaming gatherings. A special and proud moment in 2021 was signing our first deal in October and launching our online slots, which proved to be popular with players. Finally, our sales team prepared and was able to bring to the table some deals that will materialize in Q1 of 2022 and beyond.
S: What makes Amigo Gaming stand out from the competition?
IR: Amigo Gaming is a team of professionals distributed between beautiful, shiny Barcelona and other parts of the world where the product is developed and support delivered from.
The dedication that I see in the team is second to none. I would not trade them for anything in the world. On top of being loyal and great team players, the Amigo crew is highly professional and able to deal with highly demanding tasks in the ever-changing world of slots.
We nailed it with our initial set of games, or at least that is what we see from results we are achieving. I believe that understanding different player segments in different markets and mastering technology allowed us to create such an appealing slot product.
S: The first dozen games released by Amigo Gaming included many variations of classic fruit-themed slots. Why do you think players continue to love old-fashioned games in this era of over-the-top themes and features?
IR: Every gaming market has its own specifics, and every player has its own preferences, partially influenced by the local culture and exposure to the range of available games in the territory. Players are introduced to gaming at different ages, and their appetite for risk is different.
We decided to offer a relatively big range of volatility and introduce new concepts in our games to give them more versatility than classic slots. Our product pipeline will not just build on the success of early releases, but rather try to embrace some unique features that we are planning for the market in following months.
S: What’s your favourite game from the Amigo Gaming catalogue?
IR: Out of the classic fruit slots, my favorite ones are Blazing Crown and AmigoHot100. As for themed games, the winner has to be Barbarian Stash.
S:What sort of impact has working with an aggregator had on Amigo Gaming?
IR: A knowledgeable aggregator is a really useful partner, for it builds on the success of good slot providers and this in turn brings more exposure to providers themselves. The Amigo Gaming team has acquired a lot of knowledge about target markets through this cooperation, and I believe that aggregators are crucial to successfully enter some markets.
S: Barcelona isn’t one of the usual iGaming hotspots — what made you choose it as Amigo Gaming’s headquarters? Has location impacted — whether positively or negatively — your ability to attract talent?
IR: Barcelona is a tech hub with a growing presence of iGaming companies. It is also a natural bridge between Europe and Latin America, which makes it a perfect melting pot. The city itself offers a lot more than any of the more traditional industry hotspots, so it is very easy to attract talent.
A lot of people I know that work in iGaming would gladly move to Barcelona should the opportunity arise. Of course, the business environment and tax framework are sometimes less favorable than those of other jurisdictions.
S: Spain has a fragmented gambling market, but as far as iGaming goes it’s one of the largest in Europe. What’s your take on its prospects over the next few years?
IR: Spain has a fragmented land-based market as it has 17 different jurisdictions, but as far as online gaming goes it has pretty common regulations with straightforward requirements, and these are often adopted by Latin American jurisdictions.
The penetration of land-based gaming (with bars, casinos, and gaming halls) makes Spain one of the countries with the highest exposure to slots, so a growth in online casino revenues should not come as a surprise in the years to come. We aim to embrace that trend by offering unique products for Spain and beyond.
S: What can we expect from Amigo Gaming in 2022?
IR: We’re going to release over 20 new exciting games featuring new concepts and mechanics. We plan to attend three or four industry exhibitions, where we’ll present these new products. To achieve all this, we aim to double the headcount of our team.
We really want to make 2022 special for our partners, both aggregators and operators.