CEO Alexander Levchenko introduces us to Evoplay Entertainment and the industry’s first RPG slot.
Casino International Online: Could you tell us a bit about yourself and the history of Evoplay Entertainment?
Alexander Levchenko: Games have always been a passion of mine, and after a number of years of experience in different game development companies I wanted to start an iGaming company as I had enough knowledge, expertise and vision to realise how much the industry was crying out for disruption.
We started out as a project with a couple of people just a few years ago, but we’ve already been able to put our plan for leaping into action time and time again by creating some of the industry’s first 3D and VR slots. Our portfolio now totals over 60 slots, table, and instant games – many of which have been nominated for a host of awards. Of course, this path hasn’t always been easy – we’ve faced the challenges of every start-up; and learned many lessons through trial and error. To say I am proud of my team and the work they have put in would be an understatement.
CIO: What was your vision behind creating the company?
AL: The founding vision for our games was to take a step away from the classical approach and develop slots that can make ‘innovative’ more than just a buzzword, but an actual change. There is so much fantastic technology available to be taken advantage of outside of igaming, and we wanted to bring that into our industry.
Everything we do is done with the aspiration to create the very best playing experience for our players. Our online games offer full HD resolution, with some of the best animation, video effects and decent performance out there – which few of our competitors can boast – and of course gives us a real advantage.
CIO: Ukraine has a reputation as an emerging tech hub; would you agree with this?
AL: Absolutely. I have worked internationally on numerous projects before my time here and can say from first-hand experience that we have some of the best tech professionals on the planet.
Of course, Ukraine still has a lot of areas to improve on in terms of human capital – product management and managerial skill being two of them – but that will come in time as the country matures. As not that many product companies are started here, Ukraine is lacking a product vision expertise. Of course, this then impacts future development and product management – but that will change in time.
CIO: You unveiled Dungeon at this year’s ICE; can you tell us more about this?
AL: Dungeon is the industry’s first RPG (role-playing game) inspired slot. The idea behind it was to merge the line between classic slots and immersive gaming – taking the best from both worlds and putting it together for a completely new user experience. By doing so, we hope that our operator partners will be able to appeal to the emerging demographic of players who want more from their gaming experience than just the traditional flat, 2D slots that swamp the market.
The game follows our hero through an ancient temple as he does battle with monsters in its corridors. Despite the RPG elements and immersive gameplay, Dungeon stays true to its slot-based origins. All wins and losses are RNG-based. While every spin is a new journey through a different level with a random number of enemies and mystery loot-based outcome every monster has an RNG determined reward, equal to money, which makes this slot easy to understand and play. This is a new system of payouts, which is proving to be incredibly attractive for our players, as it will happen more often and reward more steps in the game.
CIO: What research has led you to believe that players are looking for more than just spinning reels?
AL: We know the history of online gaming well as we’re passionate about it – and we keep a close eye on how each emerging new generation of players. Each year represents an evolution of trends and player’s behaviour patterns, so it’s important to not only understand the dynamics of our industry but also to see the full picture when it comes to the influences of the outside world in terms of tech. Of course, one thing will always remain constant – that desire for luck and emotional satisfaction. Merge that with the latest in tech and you have a real jackpot.
CIO: How do you plan to attract traditional slots players to this new offering?
AL: When playing a ‘traditional’ slot, you have just one expectation – the win. We want to take that further with the expectation of immersion. We want our players to not only experience that enjoyment of winning but also from the gaming experience itself.
Dungeon is a good example of this; not only have we created a storyline (narrative) for the character, but also an experience in itself that will elicit enjoyment of the gameplay – this stretches from everything to include random events during the spin, the content itself, the movie-like action and feeling of a real ‘game’.
CIO: Any interesting tech behind the game?
AL: There’s plenty behind the curtain! As the game is unique to slot development at this point and we are using a number of new areas of tech, I don’t want to go into much detail, but suffice to say the ‘camera’ behind the player is unique in its kind – following, panning and shifting while you spin.
CIO: Are all your games designed for mobile? Where do you think the crossover between mobile and desktop starts and stops?
AL: Everything we do is done with a mobile-first approach. We can boast the full HD graphics on mobile with the small size and perfect performance. Our users can definitely feel the care for their gaming experience on mobile. But we also keep in mind the desktop users. Talking about the crossover, it’s useful to look back at the development of desktop over the past few decades to understand why.
Of course, the history of iGaming is intrinsically linked with the development of the internet. In the early 2000s, having a PC at home was a necessity if you wanted to play online – which tied you to a certain space. The advent of smartphones also means an increase in flexibility and the opportunity to access what it offers anytime, anyplace – which is what today’s generation wants. The emergence of mobile in markets outside Europe, such as India, Africa and LatAm brings a whole new level of dominance into the mix too – having bypassed the desktop entirely as part of its tech jump and going straight to mobile.
CIO: A lot’s been said about the emergence of VR in gaming – do you see this going mainstream?
AL: We can see that there is a huge demand on the market for VR experiences, and there is no question of the fantastic potential it has to offer. However, there is simply not enough hardware to fully support its mainstream use at this point in time. That will happen soon enough though – we can compare this process to the development of the PC in pocket form. Historically, the first large devices produced had almost no functions and could be used only for very specific actions. Fast forward to today and we see that a modern smartphone or tablet can fully replace the need in a laptop. VR/AR is that same original point when everyone wants to explore its functions, but the technology is just not yet ready to satisfy demand.
CIO: What are your plans for the next 12-18 months?
AL: We’ll be continuing with what we started with Dungeon – with the concept of merging the market for slots and games, as well as the development of our next-gen 2D slots, two of which we are about to introduce to the market.
The first, Nuke World, is set in a post-apocalyptic era with mutant animals battling each other. The second; which is a calmer alternative, but no less captivating, is Reign of Dragons, a magical slot featuring some very cute dragons and their enchanted masters. Both ride on a theme we are focusing on this year – creating slots that provide for an immersive experience with a story behind it – as well light music and a host of technical features such as a flat UI, HD graphics, high performance and intuitive swipe UX. The rate of demand from a new generation of players is changing at a fascinating pace and we’re excited to be coming up with creative ways to satisfy that demand.