ESA Gaming: Mining success with sports-themed games for the FIFA World Cup

ESA Gaming: Mining success with sports-themed games for the FIFA World Cup

ESA Gaming recently released football-themed Goal Mine World Edition, launched just weeks before the highly anticipated 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar kicks off. 

ESA Gaming's Thomas Smallwood
Thomas Smallwood

SBC News spoke to the supplier’s Head of Marketing, Thomas Smallwood, about developing tailored content with a specific audience in mind and how to ensure sports-themed games stay relevant even after major tournaments.

SBC: Do sports-themed titles really help boost player acquisition and engagement during major tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup? 

Thomas Smallwood: Our EasySwipe products are unique in the sense that they sit in the sportsbook and offer bettors an opportunity to enjoy simple yet engaging casino games without disrupting the sports betting experience. 

Our first encounter of offering our products during a major event was the Euros last year and we definitely noticed an upswing in activity for our football-themed title, Goal Mine. Betting volumes significantly increased and naturally offered the possibility of cross-selling casino to players. 

Even outside sporting events, our swipe-in games have been found to convert around 19% of sport players while also helping extend bettors’ activity by up to 6% and increase sport betting turnover by around 2.8%.

The upcoming World Cup offers a huge opportunity for acquisition and retention and we have had a lot of interest from operators for sports-themed content, hence why we decided to develop a new edition of one of our most popular games, Goal Mine. 

Sports-themed games can help attract a more casual bettor who might not normally play casino titles, so can help build new audiences. They can also engage bettors during downtime in between games, so we find they definitely bring value to operators during big events.  

SBC: What do suppliers need to take into consideration when developing sports-themed titles? 

TS: The most crucial part is delivering an authentic experience. Our sports-themed mine games, Goal Mine, Basketball Mine and Goal Mine World Edition, have all been developed with our core audience in mind and come with different RTPs to attract more players and to be suitable for multiple markets. 

In Goal Mine, players move up the field to get to the bonus round which is a penalty scenario. In Goal Mine World Edition, players can also chose a national team to represent them. 

Furthermore, the Basketball Mine bonus round game play is not the same as the Goal Mine game, as we wanted to introduce an authentic experience into our titles. Instead, it invites players to swipe to shoot at the basket. 

Tennis Mine, scheduled for release in H1 2023, will also be different, featuring tennis game play in the bonus round, because the objective of each game is to credibly entertain a specific audience. 

SBC: The World Cup will take place in winter for the first time; how do you think this will impact betting and wagering during the event? 

TS: As the summer is usually a quiet period for sporting events, the Euros and the World Cup are welcomed opportunities every two years for operators to boost their business. Our games have traditionally helped sportsbooks engage with users and maintain loyalty during these periods and have helped retain new players even when the new season is a little way off. However, a winter World Cup brings a new scenario. 

As much as marquee events can bring a new audience, there must also be an acknowledgement that the sports betting opportunities on a World Cup are not as frequent as in the regular football calendar. So, this time, sportsbooks must balance the acquisition potential with the disruption to the regular season, but also with the added boost that (European) players acquired in November/December will have another half a season of major leagues to wager on. 

Effectively, one could argue that acquisition is even more important during a winter World Cup but, of course, there is a huge competition between sportsbooks. For this reason, releasing new content in the lead up to the World Cup is crucial, including sport-themed games to attract the core audience. 

Promotional tools, such as our newly launched product EasyBoost™, can also significantly help operators during these events. We currently offer configurable money drops and tournaments with in-game notifications which are invaluable in creating loyalty and keeping players in the sportsbook, rather than navigating away to casino or indeed alternative mobile apps when the football match is finished.

SBC: How do you ensure longevity in sports-themed titles after a big event?

TS: This is a challenge for sure and there will always be a surge in activity while a tournament is still ongoing, driven by the frenzy that is created, as well as a heavier market push of the games by operators. 

We are pleased with how our sports-themed portfolio has been performing all year round and partly put that down to its unique proposition and it sitting in the sportsbook with bettors often having a keen interest in sports, or on non-traditional content tabs. 

As long as you ensure the games are truly engaging and, in our case, also simple and easy to understand, but with an authentic theme you have a winning concept. 

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