They are known for localizing online casino content. Now they’re pleading football mania. All-in Translations CEO Roy Pedersen sums up 1,000 days at the football and betting crossroads to highlight the lessons learned.
When I launched All-in Translations in Malta back in 2008, the company’s mission was to solve a very obvious problem: many of the people doing language localization of gaming content were either lacking expertise (and passion for) casino games, poker, betting, bingo, etc., or they had amateur-like language skills.
I decided the criteria to get a job with us was to have “perfect” language skills and to be borderline cuckoo about all things gaming. We obviously filled an industry void, and with first-mover advantage All-in Translations quickly grew to become the top-of-mind Language Service Provider for the gaming industry. We secured clients like Playtech and Betsson in our cradle days, and I’m proud to say that they’re still with us all these years later.
My philosophy has always been to work with what I love and what resonates with me. I’m positively sure one gets better results this way, especially when working with professional translations and copywriting.
But as much as I like seeing a flop, or doubling down on 11 against the dealer’s 6, hell I’d even wager on rigged greyhound racing if the mood strikes in good company… football will always be the one. That means more hours of playing Football Manager and FIFA, and listening to podcasts about Fantasy Football, than most people could imagine.
So, when our Gaffer (Operations Manager) Tiago Aprigio introduced the concept of Ball In Translations back in 2015 I was dumbstruck I hadn’t thought of it first. There it was… a good reason to work with football again! This was something I had missed since being a football journalist in Norway. I guess it was decided there; and then and I guess this is my Achilles’ heel: if something sounds as good as this did, with a bunch of promising pros, I won’t really be listening when the cons are addressed. As Ken Kesey (Jack Nicholson) put it: To hell with facts! We need stories!
Football had always been a big part of the company culture. A lot of the betting content we translated or wrote was about football, and the company was the main sponsor and PR producer for FC Scandinavia. Most of the players in the squad worked with gaming companies in Malta, which led to a fair bit of business. We even won a GIDA League title. All-in Translations was also the first (and last) team to win back-to-back doubles in the Pentasia Clubs League. I don’t think these victories necessarily brought us clients, but I like to think that the ability to constantly produce a winning team was noticed.
The very first time we used Ball In Translations in our marketing was at ICE Totally Gaming, back in 2016. We hired a football pool table for our stand, while the whole fun was hosted by the Ali G lookalike, Dani B. As you can see in the below video, he used just the right amount of colourful language.
By then, we had already bought a few dozens of tickets for Euro 16 that were intended as prizes and representation. We also booked Zinedine Zidane’s sports complex outside of Marseille to host an exclusive tournament for industry professionals. We were convinced we had identified a need for our services from football clubs and companies, and two part-time sales sharks were hired to test the waters.
Ballintranslations.com was brought to life under the slogan “Scoring fans with language”. We even shot a video commercial about a guy visiting Iceland during the Euros to “learn Icelandic” while most of the male population was in France.
However, all these efforts proved futile and led to ZERO football clients. Plus a few lessons learned:
*Do more qualitative research before trying to enter a new market.
*Don’t stress the release date or go halfway when building a website.
*It’s HARD to convince football clubs or companies of the value of reaching a wider audience through localization and multilingual content. We wanted City, Liverpool or United, but would easily have settled for Gloucester City just because of their logo. We got none of them.
Meanwhile, ballintranslations.com was dismissed as an experiment of the (recent) past and we merged the marketing media channels under All-in Translations. One of the two sales people is not working for us any more, while the other one is thriving in a new role as our Marketing manager. We have also decided to pursue clients in esports and crypto, instead of hunting actively for football clubs.
It would still be a dream come true to translate or write for a big football club, or even Football Manager or FIFA, and I am certain we would outperform any of our competitors, but it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the main focus of All-in Translations should be to localize and produce content about casino games, poker, bingo, betting on sports and betting on esports.
I am not sure how much the Ball In Translations initiative had to do with it, but over the last 1,000 days we did start working with a very impressive list of big bookmakers and platform providers that are focusing on sports betting. The list includes:
- William Hill
- Ladbrokes Coral
- Kindred Group
- SB Tech
- Asian BGE
- Big Bet World
In the summer of 2017, we also took over management of the five-a-side football league for gaming companies in Malta. With us in charge, it was renamed the Pentasia All-in League. We rebranded it completely and intensified the focus on fair play. The response to our first season as league managers was phenomenal, and the second season is just about to kick off on September 24th with 29 teams. This is a new record in this league’s 11 years of existence.
Last thing I’d like to add is this video commentary on machine translation, where we produced our own music video version of Football Coming Home during the SiGMA Cup in 2017. This is a cup organised by All-in Translations, and the 2018 version will include a stand-up comedy session after the final. So, RSVP now if you’re attending SiGMA and drop us an email if you want to sign up a team (five-a-side).