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Q&A w/ Timothy Hill, Senior Project Manager at Betsson Group, on how an operator prepares for the World Cup – European Gaming Industry News

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Tell us about your career to date and how you came to join Bidstack? (highlights and stories)

I’ve been immersed in the video games industry, digital environment and ad tech for the last 7 years, and specialise in advertising and monetisation. In 2016, I left my dear France to join the London branch of the French ad-exchange Mozoo and develop the Surikate product in Europe, which was the direct performance arm of the business (UA) for leading games and lifestyle apps. Following a period of significant growth, Mozoo acquired AdinCube in 2017, a leading ad mediation platform for game app developers. Here I was given the opportunity to join the new team, where I utilised my expertise to secure publisher partnerships across the EMEA region. A year later, in 2018, following a rapid period of expansion, AdinCube was acquired by Ogury, where I successfully built the gaming publisher portfolio from the ground up. Here I was able to onboard game studios such as Miniclip, Kwalee, Outfit7, Crazy Lab Games, Good Job Games and many more. In 2021 I was given the opportunity to join Bidstack to scale up the publisher portfolio across mobile, PC, and console and I am now responsible for the supply side of the business in Europe and in various other markets globally.

 

What does your role as ‘VP of Gaming’ at Bidstack entail?

Primarily it is focused on managing and working with a young and entrepreneurial team who are passionate about gaming and helping game developers and publishers to unlock a new, incremental revenue stream that protects the gaming experience for the end user.

Reporting to our US-based SVP Gaming, my role is essentially to lead business development for Europe with game developers and publishers across the UK, EMEA and other international territories.

Our mission is to educate studios on the benefits of integrating Bidstack’s monetisation technologies, regardless of platform and structuring deals with AAA publishers, leading game studios, and AAA titles.

 

What drew you to the games industry?

My path into gaming was carved out quite naturally. If I take a step back, I’ve always been passionate about gaming and have been a player myself for as long as I can remember. I can still see myself playing the SEGA Mega Drive with my brothers and spending hours on my Gameboy or Nintendo DS before evolving with each generation of new consoles like the PS1, PS2, the Xbox 360 etc.

When I started my career, I began in digital and advertising on mobile, first on the UA side of things at Surikate from Mozoo and then on the in-game monetisation side through various ad mediation platforms and ad networks; this gave me the opportunity to engage with game studios for the very first time.

The creativity, genuine talent, and passion surrounding these individuals really made an impression on me, and I found it amazing to discover more about programmatic exchanges and all the rules, processes and technical considerations that were happening in the background of the games themselves in order to drive revenue for those studios.

Today, I’m very grateful to work within such a fast-growing and ever-evolving industry. The gaming market is a multi-billion dollar industry that engages around 3 billion gamers yearly, and that number only looks set to grow.

The industry is no longer a niche interest; video games are now mainstream and very much a part of everyday life for billions. Advertisers have started to pay more attention to that in addition to their traditional media mix like TV, Print or Social Media, which makes it the best place to be, in my opinion.

What’s super exciting in our industry is that you can never get bored. From new user privacy and data protection laws, new monetisation formats and gaming platforms to record-breaking mergers and acquisitions, there is always something new happening.

 

Are you a gamer in your downtime/what do you play?

I’m still a gamer myself, mainly on console. I’m a big fan of my PS5, and if you don’t find me hitting some COD Modern Warfare 2 these days, I will probably be trying to finish Elden Ring!

 

Bidstack is an in-game advertising and video game monetisation platform. What does this mean in practice?

Bidstack’s mission is to empower game developers to dynamically control and monetise space within and around their gaming environments.

Our programmatic platform pioneered how brands deliver ads into natural spaces within video games – with these brand experiences varying from trackside banners and cityscape billboards to pitchside LED boards, skins and other contextually relevant surfaces within a gaming environment.

The platform was designed with performance in mind, and all of our products ensure stability and security for our partners across their in-game, rewarded video, and in-menu inventory. Our proprietary technology also ensures that the realism of a game is maintained by rendering effects on top of creatives to make them a seamless part of the experience.

Bidstack gives publishers total control over what appears in their games via our AdConsole – here; they are able to approve or reject ads in real-time before they appear in their gaming environments. We further bolstered our ad quality capabilities with the acquisition of Pubguard (a malvertising and ad quality platform) in 2019, with their suite of tools ensuring that we deliver a premium advertising experience for our partners and maintain strict category exclusions.

Bidstack delivered the world’s first programmatic in-game campaign in 2018. Since then, we have grown from a team of 4 staff to more than 80 across 5 international locations and became a public company listed on the London Stock Exchange. We also have a unique sales footprint thanks to our strategic partners and secured a strong portfolio of +150 games across Mobile, PC and Console.

However, Advertising represents just one use case for our technology, with many of our gaming partners utilising the platform as a content management tool to reduce dev cycles and manage brand licensing relationships across their titles.

 

What are the benefits of in-game advertising for developers and players?

The benefits are numerous. Our technology unlocks a new, sustainable route to revenue for publishers, which is non-intrusive and can work alongside existing monetisation strategies.

Developers can now authentically recreate real-world environments in which audiences have come to expect the presence of realistic advertising, including billboards, banners or product placements across in-game, in-menu and rewarded video formats.

We are the leading solution when it comes to helping developers across all platforms (Mobile, PC, Console, Metaverse) navigate the waves of the medium successfully, opening this new incremental revenue and reducing ad pressure with a better user experience.

In a world where the vast majority of gaming ads are performance-based, the brand advertising we offer reduces churn rates and increases user retention for developers, making the game a more premium and safe environment.

This leads me to the player benefits. Unlike other digital ad types, in-game advertising also sits better with consumers. Seven in 10 UK gamers feel positive or neutral towards organically embedded in-game advertising. Among console gamers, 22% are more likely to buy brands advertised in games.

While some existing and well-established ad formats can be intrusive (full-screen unskippable ads etc.), when done well, in-game advertising, fully native and blended in the environment in a non-clickable way, can really increase the immersion and make the game a more realistic experience. I would personally love to stumble across a billboard promoting the latest smartphone from a real brand when walking around Night City in CyberPunk. This would look awesome and make me feel this is kind of real!

 

What’s the best in-game ad you’ve seen lately?

Probably our campaign with Paco Rabanne and Starcom into Rezzil, which won the Best Regional Campaign – North America at the TheWires 2022 ceremony recently. It delivered impressive results through the use of contextual and virtual reality, leading the way for future opportunities in that space.

 

What are some of in-game’s challenges, and how can they be overcome?

One key challenge is the fact that every player is different, especially within the free-to-play arena, and will react to a game’s experience in their own way, so it’s important to explore different ways to monetise your titles.

Harmony between in-app purchases and in-game advertising is key. Both solutions are complementary and need to work in the right balance. As I was saying earlier, there are so many innovative formats in the market now that game developers have a real opportunity to support the development of their games whilst enhancing the experience for players.

Another challenge is keeping up with the new innovations that are driving value in a constantly evolving market. To stay ahead of the game, I think you have to build trust with your players and show them respect by leveraging quality branding ads in formats that are designed to enhance their playing experience rather than polluting the game experience with overly intrusive, non-relevant advertising that will damage the whole experience.

So with players now less accustomed to paying for accessing their favourite games and increasingly frustrated with intrusive monetisation methods, many developers are now turning to in-game advertising as an option that works for game creators and players alike.

 

Looking forward, what can we expect to see from Bidstack – and you – in 2023?

Bidstack is in a stage of exciting growth. We recently announced some huge hires in the US and 2023 shows no sign of slowing down. Next year, we anticipate expanding our range of products and ad formats, bringing on board more games studios and brands, and further growing our talented team. For me personally, a part of my job that I love is attending amazing technology conferences and gaming events. With the world now fully opened up again, 2023 presents amazing opportunities for us to get our technology in front of the world’s best publishers and brands.

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Jankos lists 3 LEC teams who will almost certainly reign supreme next season

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In the eyes of Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski, three teams will be strongest in the coming 2022 LEC season.

In a recent stream, the jungler listed three teams he considers the most formidable contenders for the European throne next year. This was excluding Heretics, for whom Jankos will reportedly play in 2023. G2 Esports, KOI, and Team Vitality will be the teams to watch next season according to the Polish jungler.

“No particular order… G2, technically should be KOI, and maybe Vitality,” Jankos said.

When it comes to the last of the three teams, the Pole explained that it depends on “how they match as a team,” considering they have multiple nationalities in their squad, which could shake up communication.

As of now, none of the mentioned teams have confirmed their rosters for the upcoming seasons, but there are plenty of rumors regarding them. G2 is reportedly bringing in Steven “Hans Sama” Liv and Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle alongside Martin “Yike” Sundelin, who will fill in the jungle role.

KOI, on the other hand, will keep Rogue’s roster except for Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu, who is said to be joining Excel. When it comes to Vitality, however, the team reportedly acquired Matúš “Neon” Jakubčík and Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser, alongside Chinese jungler Zhou “Bo” Yang-Bo and T1 Challengers’ top laner Kyeong “Photon” Gyu-tae.

The 2023 LEC season will kick off sometime in January with the inauguration of the 2023 LEC Winter Season, which will be the first of the three splits in the revamped format.

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Introducing new verticals to the online casino space – European Gaming Industry News

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The World Cup is held every four years and this edition of the most famous football tournament on the planet is unique given the venue and the fact it sits right in the middle of the domestic season.

With that in mind, how does this affect user engagement and betting patterns over the course of this prestigious competition? We spoke to BETEGY CEO, Alex Kornilov who gives his insights into how successful engagement with players could be.

 

With football already Europe’s most popular sport, what new ways of user engagement have you put together for the World Cup?

This football season brought many ways to explore user engagement into the industry. The World Cup in Qatar is the real test to show the best approaches to customers’ experience. At BETEGY, we knew that online betting would thrive during the tournament, and we have managed to deliver creative visuals with live data from all the matches, which can be used in various formats and presented on different platforms.

 

The World Cup is being hosted right in the middle of the domestic football season across Europe. Does this make the World Cup more or less popular from a betting perspective?

The World Cup has always been one of the most significant events in the betting industry –  and I see no reason for this iteration to be less popular than before. In addition, the tournament duration has been decreased to 28 days, meaning more matches squeezed into a shorter space of time. This is definitely going to help keep the audience’s excitement and engagement at their highest.

The only competitor for the attention of sports punters will be the upcoming holiday hustle when people will be getting all set for the festive season. However, I don’t see that as a big risk. With football fans watching the biggest football event of the year from the comfort of their own homes, it’s an excellent opportunity to attract a new audience to the betting market.

 

A Middle Eastern country is hosting the World Cup for the first time. How is this unique environment playing to BETEGY’s strengths, given the majority of fans are watching from home?

With more fans watching football from home, keeping them entertained with the most high-quality offering and products is very important. Players in the industry will compete for the fans’ attention and will do their best to build a scalable relationship with them beyond the World Cup. Live scores, statistics, and betting prices in various markets must be delivered to the users’ screens with no delay and with the best look and feel. This is one of the aspects BETEGY is the best at – and we have thoroughly prepared to help our clients solve the pain points related to it.

 

With Europe not due to host another World Cup until 2030 at the earliest, is it a positive for technology and engagement that the tournament is being held in nations where football popularity is on the rise? 

The next World Cup will take place in 16 different cities across North America. This tournament is probably the most important in the context of how “soccer” has been promoted in the United States recently. On one side, the USSF and the MLS clubs have been working a lot to promote soccer locally by bringing top-class players into the league. On the other hand, the US has rarely stuck to the traditional European perception of sport and football in particular. Sport in the US serves its goal – to entertain the audience. Strategists at NBA or NFL would do almost anything to keep fans engaged and ensure all the remote viewers are enjoying the show.

Also, this new, next-gen audience is highly discerning  – which pushes the market to deliver innovative solutions and ideas to engage, excite and entertain. For sports tech and entertainment companies, it’s a huge opportunity and a challenge at the same time to find a key to the hearts and minds of potential new football fans. Some best practices for the US market are already known, so bringing football to new horizons is a certain path to making this game even more beautiful.

 

How can companies capture this new wave of interest?

US sports fans are already used to high standards of the content delivered to them. Everyone who wants to surf this wave of delight should definitely focus on innovation and quality. I’ve noticed that people love to know what’s happening on the pitch and, at the same time, are always willing to guess what’s going to happen next. The rise of technology helps to understand the game better, it gives birth to new betting markets, but it also helps companies enhance the users’ involvement in the game.

With the US online betting market opening, many players from the industry are seeking an opportunity to test their best offering on new audiences. Since soccer is undoubtedly on the rise, a chance to attract American bettors became a significant pull factor for most industry members – and we’re very excited with what we’re doing at BETEGY.

 

It has been 20 years since a non-European country won the World Cup. Do you think a European nation will win this prestigious tournament this year given the first round of results?

The first round has shown that football has advanced at all levels, especially geographically. For example, some national teams from Asia have had tremendous results against supposedly much stronger rivals from South America and Europe. And it’s not only about the result – those teams’ performance and style of play are a delight to watch. At this stage, almost any underdog has the chance to proceed to the knockout stages and refute the odds.

In my opinion, some Latin American national teams have a high chance of winning the World Cup. Still, they’ll need to deliver their best performance against the highly-experienced European contenders. It will be fascinating to watch it all happening. And may the best team win!

 

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Warzone 2.0 Rebirth Map Allegedly Leaks Online

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Earlier today, an image began circulating online that allegedly represents an all-new map coming to Warzone 2.0. There’s data attached to the image that has led us to believe that this is in fact a ‘Rebirth Island’ experience, redesigned and updated for Warzone 2.0’s brand-new battle royale platform. There are suggestions that this map will welcome a resurgence mode, as well as Ground War and even DMZ, Warzone 2.0’s new extraction shooter mode.

It’s worth highlighting immediately that this information has yet to be confirmed, but DMCA takedowns are being issued. This is usually a clear indicator that the leak is somewhat credible, but as with any gaming-related rumour, we’d urge you to take this with a pinch of salt. If true, the Warzone 2.0 Rebirth map could launch in 2023, bringing about a return of a much-loved mode that fans are already mourning the loss of.

Is a Warzone 2.0 Rebirth Map Coming?

rebirth island warzone 2

OG Rebirth was massively popular on Warzone

Rebirth Island first made an appearance in Call of Duty Warzone in December 2020, coming in with the first season of content for Black Ops Cold War. It was a re-imagining of the Alcatraz map that was seen in Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode, and before that, in Call of Duty Zombies’ Mob of the Dead. It proved to be an instant hit with fans, with many millions of players appreciating the short-form, respawn-driven mode over the slower-paced battle royale platform.

It was mere weeks ago that Warzone 2.0 launched, and it’s still balancing out as we speak. There is a wide range of issues ongoing on the platform, from stability and connection issues to bugs and glitches, but apparently, Infinity Ward and Raven Software are hard at work polishing the platform. It’s a case of too little, too late for some, but for the most part, Warzone 2.0 is riddled with potential, new features, and admittedly, exciting gameplay.

At present, there’s absolutely no information available regarding this potential new map, aside from a suggested name: Return. Does that mean we’re returning to a landscape we’ve seen before in the Call of Duty franchise? There’s no doubt that Warzone 2.0 is already one of the most popular battle royale games out there, but the launch of a new Rebirth Island map could solidify that claim even further.

What Happened to Warzone 1?

Following the launch of Warzone 2.0, the first Warzone title, released in 2020, has been kept online – for now. It’s simply called ‘Call of Duty Warzone Caldera’, and it’s available on all major platforms, just as it was before the follow-up title was released. While it offers the same experience as ever before, it’s missing a lot of the newer features introduced in Warzone 2.0.

That includes the all-new map, the DMZ mode, brand-new contracts, weapons, AI opponents scattered across the map, and so much more. There’s no sense in staying with Caldera now that Warzone 2.0 has been released – unless you really like that Pacific-based map, of course.

Let’s wait and see what happens with ‘Rebirth’.

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