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Branding & shaping the perfect corporate image – European Gaming Industry News

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What’s in a name?

Branding is key for operators, but shaping the perfect corporate image is also important in the ultra-competitive world of iGaming studios. In this feature, we look at the reasons why already successful suppliers would seek to craft fresh identities.

 

What key factors are taken into consideration when creating a fresh identity for a games studio?

 

Joey Hurtado, Managing Director of Games at Wizard Games: In this saturated market, it is important that we focus on our distinct competitive advantages. This boils down to what we can provide for our partners, based on a level of experience and knowledge within our ranks that we believe is up there with the best in the industry. At Wizard Games, we have assembled a wonderful management team with decades of experience in the industry and a studio team that boasts tons of creativity. Add to the mix an extensive network of operators who are already offering our games, extremely fast integration capabilities, the tournament tools offered by Pariplay, and the support of our solid public parent company, Aspire Global, and it is clear that our brand stands out from the crowd. We know the market and our finger is on the pulse of what players want across major industry operators. This gives us the advantage of creating exactly the sort of content people are looking for in different markets.

 

Yanina Kaplya, Head of Marketing at BetGames: There are many reasons for creating or updating a brand image for a games studio, (or indeed any other type of business). This can range from reputational and international expansion or repositioning to reflect a company’s new vision. Depending on the exact reasons driving it, there will be external factors such as target market trends and culture, the wider industry and product portfolio – and of course, the brand’s archetype. Internal factors can also include how we see and position ourselves, as well as the mission, vision, and value of the company not only as a product provider but also as an employer. Invariably, a company may need help from an external consultancy to see the bigger picture, while some companies decide to create their own brand image and identity in-house, as they have internal brand ambassadors who can show them the way to go. Defining your brand personality, your target audiences’ preferences, and value proposition can help greatly in setting a clear identity for a company. Looking at the gaming market today, we can see competition is fierce and every brand wants to cultivate uniqueness through product or brand identity and messaging to be able to differentiate itself.

 

Vladimir Malakchi, CCO at Evoplay: The concept of a brand is much more fundamental to a game studio or developer, at Evoplay we are in the fortunate position of being a brand that has a proactive philosophy on creating games, this is something not everyone in the industry has. Having a clear brand identity makes it very easy for partners and consumers alike to understand the company’s position and how it conducts itself across its markets. It’s the perfect reflection of a company’s vision, goals, and ambitions. When it comes to making an impact on the global stage – the most important is a well-formed brand compass that will be the landmark and goal behind every step of the company – vision, mission, values, strategic goals, and purpose as a business. Since the main barometer of a gaming studio’s value is the games it provides, it is crucial to understand the uniqueness of the games being created by the company, as well as what it means to the player and partner, and how it will be perceived by competitors. These insights foster a path for the company’s development and lay the foundations for further activity.

 

Stay close to an existing well-known brand, or move in a completely new direction: what persuaded you to move down one route or the other?

Malakchi: I wouldn’t say that Evoplay started moving in a completely new direction after the rebranding. The rebrand was about creating a new starting point in the Evoplay story and a transition to a new level, which is quite logical and harmonious in light of the great achievements made in the last 2 years. It serves as recognition of the experience we have gained over 3 years in the market, as well as setting more global goals and methods of achieving them. Some paradigms have remained with us and are still the basis of the company, some have been modified and adapted to new visions and beliefs, and some have been expanded due to stronger capacity and resources.

Kaplya: We are very proud of having built our BetGames brand and product portfolio completely from scratch. Our success has stemmed from our passion for unique products and solutions, which is such that it prevents us from stepping away from our core values and vision. In rebranding, we wanted to keep the vibrant, cool, visual themes of BetGames, as well as our recognizable name, for both our business partners and legions of fans. These factors give us the confidence and knowledge that our brand has a great reputation in the industry and that’s something we want to maintain throughout our lifetime. BetGames recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, and we’ve reflected this important milestone with an evolved business statement, upgrades to our operations, as well as corporate strategy and team alignments. The main driver behind our rebranding was our strategic plan to develop our corporate identity over the next decade. We identified a clear vision on a logo, fonts, color palette, and photography that would reflect how we grew from a start-up to a global entertainment provider.

Hurtado: This was a question that we considered extensively during the brand creation process before we reached the conclusion that our identity should lie within the middle ground between innovation and tradition. We have since focused on transmitting this identity to potential partners by embedding the concept within our brand design, guidelines, product, and every aspect of our communications. We see ourselves as a progressive brand. That means our games are deeply rooted in what players want, which is in the main set of traditional themes and features. From that starting point, we innovate – gradually and not in a disruptive way, incorporating technological advances, creative features, and attractive bonuses, all the way testing the results game by game. So far, this approach is working perfectly. We have achieved notable progression with each game release in terms of reception, which is a testament to our studio team’s hard work in evolving our offering.

 

Does the name, logo, and presentation of a brand tell a story in itself, or is it all about the games?

Hurtado: The expression of our brand identity is achieved through a combination of the logo, name presentation, and design. The Wizard element represents a wise character who constantly comes up with outstanding creations that nobody expected. As a universally recognizable character from a range of fantasy stories, the appeal is nostalgic while also hinting at the creation of new, surprising solutions. The combination of tradition with modernity is also present within the design of our logo, website, and visual elements.

Kaplya: We do have a story behind our logo. When you look at it – it’s a simple, recognizable, and unique mark that represents BetGames as well as its operating principles. The ‘B’ and ‘G’ in BetGames are combined in our new logo to represent our core value as a people company. It also resembles Superman taking flight, his arms pointing to the sky, which perfectly captures BetGames’ commitment to growth and people. While the diagonal lines mirror our dynamic personality, it is also no coincidence that they are tilted at a 24° angle, the same as the earth on its axis, symbolizing BetGames as a global company. The all-new logo is a modern representation of a company with operating principles and ideals at its heart.

Malakchi: The main goal of Evoplay’s rebranding was to take ownership over our brand identity, positioning the company as one with a unique vision for gambling products and a pragmatic approach to doing business in the industry. Everything that comes out of Evoplay, including communications, promotions, and marketing materials, reveals the personality of the brand and aligns with its vision, values, and goals. Our name – a combination of both the words “evolution” and “play” – expresses our desire as a brand, while our logo features the wing of our mascot, an owl, Evo, which symbolizes wisdom and transformation – the exact two powers we’re driven by. Our slogan is representative of our interaction with players and partners – ‘The future of iGaming of Today ‘, where players can enjoy an unparalleled gaming experience, and our partners can improve their business in multiple ways.

 

What are your brand’s values and how do they relate to your future plans?

Kaplya: We have incredibly ambitious plans for 2022 and our values are integral to them. We are using the best that tech can offer and are busy developing some fantastic ideas that we’ll bring to the market. When it comes to our core values – we start with compassion as we are a people company. Innovation is key, and we always aim to stay unique as pioneers rather than copycats. This is reflected in a soon-to-be-launched new vertical from us in 2022, which we’re all very excited about. Results, of course, always count – and we take pride in never failing on delivery, which I’m sure will continue to place us as a key industry partner through the next decade. Last but not least, we always think big and stretch what is possible!

Malakchi: I have always believed that the brand’s values begin with the corporate culture. It means that in-house values can be incorporated among employees, and directly impact our brand image. Speaking about Evoplay’s values in more detail, they are based on six P’s – People, Partners, Profit, Productivity, Portfolio, Place. Resting on these core pillars, we have been able to achieve our main goals for 2021 and expect to carry this momentum into the New Year by being a responsible employer and trendsetter in the iGaming industry, creating exciting titles, and building valuable partnerships.

Hurtado: The brand personality we have created is reflective of our core values: expertise, modernity, trustworthiness, progressiveness, and entertainment. It connects with our plans for the future, as we continue to add to a team that is rich in expertise, having been within the industry for decades. They know what they are doing and are committed to the continual improvement of our products and services so that we can deliver to players what they want and provide them with the most engaging, entertaining gaming experience. Our commercial team has also grown a lot in quality and quantity and we are striving to deliver the best possible customer service to our partner operators. As anyone can see from looking at our product roadmap, we innovate gradually from game to game, incorporating new, attractive bonus features. Our marketing team has also advanced the quality of our assets and they are working on numerous different projects to substantially improve the asset delivery. This year, we are also set to launch several features that have never been seen in the market before and which we are very enthusiastic about. Watch this space!

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Team Spirit, Virtus.pro and NaVi roster movements ahead of DPC 2023

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The CIS teams are on the move to reform a new powerhouse roster for the upcoming Dota Pro Circuit 2023 (DPC 2023). After the Eastern European teams’ poor showcase of results at the International 11 (TI11), it wasn’t surprising that even the TI10 Champs, Team Spirit themselves, are up for a roster shuffle.

Team Spirit parts ways with TORONTOTOKYO

Team Spirit announced the departure of their mid-player, Alexander “TORONTOTOKYO” Khertek. Renowned for his calm and wise demeanor during drafting discussions, the young prodigy is also infamously known for typing “ez game” at TI10.

Anyways, the departure from Team Spirit was by no means a good sendoff. Team Spirit had the worst run in their career-long TI participation, where BOOM Esports eliminated the defending champ at sixteenth place. While there were rumors about the internal conflict among Spirit players prior to TI11, which may have led to their poor performance. It’s difficult to envision Spirit crumbling so drastically after just winning the PGL Arlington Major 2022 beforehand.

TORONTOTOKYO’s new team

Speaking of rumors, word has it that there is a CIS super-stack in the making, consisting of Ivan “Pure” Moskalenko, Danil “gpk” Skutin, Egor “Nightfall” Grigorenko, Vitalie “Save-” Melnic, and TORONTOTOKYO himself.

These are high-profile players, who have played for powerhouses, such as Virtus.pro and Entity. Traditionally, Pure, gpk and Nightfall are carry players, who are best known for their position 1-3 roles respectively. This begs the question of where TORONTOTOKYO fits into the roster.

Well, it seems like TORONTOTOKYO will be taking the backseat in the team by playing as hard support. He was spamming position-5 support role in pubs since TI11 concluded, so the rumors seem to fit into the puzzle.

Virtus.pro welcomes young blood

VP has had a decent DPC season, all things considered. They placed thirteenth, just shy of 0.5 points after Valve re-calibrated their DPC points calculation. Sure, it’s unfortunate, but VP certainly didn’t let that stop them from qualifying for TI11.

Fast forward to TI11 Last Chance Qualifier, Team Liquid and Secret hoarded the top seeds, ending VP’s TI11 dream. Regardless, VP is still a staple in DPC, which has consistently cultivated new line-ups. As such, they announced a new stack of young players for DPC 2023.

Recruiting players from five different teams, VP has their eyes set on creating the next generation of CIS powerhouse. Evgeniy “Noticed” Ignatenko from BetBoom might just be the only notable player, who has somewhat of a background after BetBoom played in TI11. Besides that, the rest of the team are from unknown origins, and go by the names, Koma`, squad1x, sayuw, and Dukalis.

Natus Vincere releases Solo and Noone

Navi shared a similar journey with VP at the TI11 Last Chance Qualifier, falling just short despite making it to Singapore. With that, the veterans, Volodymyr “Noone” Minenko and Alexey “Solo” Berezin left Navi. Although Navi never met the expectations of a well-established powerhouse, having Noone and Solo’s guidance gave Navi some relevancy.

Anyways, Nikita “Nicky`Cool” Ostakhov and Arman “Malady” Orazbayev take up the vacant roles left behind by their predecessors. Like many other new powerhouses, there seems to be a trend in picking up young blood. The two players are phenomenal in the pubs, so hopefully that transitions well into world-class performance for Navi.


The trio of CIS powerhouses have their eyes set on the new DPC season, whereas a rumored powerful stack is in the making. Considering how drastically the competitive scene has shifted in favor of South American and Western European teams. CIS needs to step up its games in order to stay relevant in DPC 2023.

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Brazilian CS:GO player slams quality of practice in North America

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Just days after winning the $20,000 CBCS Invitational 2022 in Brazil over 00 Nation, paiN Gaming have traveled back to North America to play their last matches before the player break. Rodrigo “biguzera” Bittencourt, paiN’s No. 1 star, is not happy at all to practice again with NA teams, though.

“How I missed practicing in NA,” biguzera ironically said today. “[Practicing in] Brazil is a thousand times better than here. Now I see why this region [NA] is so successful,” biguzera added, calling out how the NA players have been practicing.

Biguzera is not the first and likely won’t be the last player to complain about the quality of CS:GO practice in NA. This has historically been a concern in the region and the practice only got worse after the COVID-19 pandemic because several organizations stopped investing in the competition and almost all relevant tournaments shifted to Europe, which forces the only few good teams from NA like Team Liquid to spend most of their time practicing in Europe to have a chance of winning such big tournaments.

This is also the overall perception in Brazil as well. Most of the Brazilian teams move to NA to attend NA leagues and try to qualify for big tournaments, but with the practice being so bad nowadays, it’s unclear if that is the best approach for Brazilian teams. One of biguzera’s fans asked him if paiN could not move to Europe because they will “unlearn” how to play CS in NA.

The quality of practice in NA won’t likely change anytime soon unless organizations try to nurture talent in the region like Evil Geniuses is doing with its Blueprint project and tournament organizers invest in the grassroots scene.



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Uncrowned king steps down: Ame takes time off from Dota 2 as LGD begins huge rebuild

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Ame, one of the most respected position-one players in the Dota 2 world, revealed that he’ll be taking time off from competitive play today. The news came as a surprise for fans, as PSG.LGD has been one of the most consistent teams in the game’s history.

With even an Aegis in their collection, LGD has been placing top six at The International since 2017. Ame has been a core part of that success since he was recruited from CDEC Youth.

Ame has been a constant in multiple iterations of the LGD roster, which were all one step away from greatness. Ame fell one step short of lifting the Aegis twice in his career, running up in the event in 2021 and 2018 while securing the top four in the remaining ones except for TI11.

Though placing fifth in the most prestigious Dota 2 event of the year is an accomplishment of its own, TI11 marked the worst result for LGD in the event since 2017. Knocking on the door of success this many times only for the door to remain closed can take a toll on players’ mindset toward the game, and it looks like Ame is looking for a complete refresh with this break.

“We’re following the player’s wishes and respecting his personal development needs,” LGD said. “Ame’s status is inactive, temporarily away for rest.”

Ame’s future is currently unknown, but he seems to have the full support of LGD no matter what he decides. Considering Ame has been competing at the top of the Dota 2 mountain for six years now, this is a well-deserved break for the Uncrowned King who fans hope to finally crown when he returns from his break.

With a pillar removed from its roster, LGD only remains with two members in its active squad, NothingToSay and y’, opening the door for a major rebuild.

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