Italy is arguably Europe’s second biggest gaming market and the most interesting when it comes to retail vs. online – with 80% or more players still part of the land-based scene.
We caught up with Evoplay CCO Vladimir Malakchi to hear the latest on their plans for capturing the market, as well as how the award-winning studio’s games are proving to be a real asset for their latest Italian partners.
Congratulations on Evoplay’s multiple deals as you expand into Italy! Can you tell us a bit more about your recent partnerships and your plans for further growth in the market?
Thank you! We’re very excited about our recent partnerships and our plans for further expansion. We entered Italy back in 2020, and, over the past three years, we’ve ensured constant growth in players’ interest, trust and openness towards trying out our latest titles.
I truly believe that the key to any commercial success is the partnerships and connections we build with the operators we work alongside. As a result, we are very proud to work with some of the country’s biggest brands. Last year was by far our best yet, securing deals with the likes of Tuko Productions, Scommettendo and Sportbet. Our award-winning slots and instant games have proven to be a real differentiator, and we’re delighted that the feedback has been so positive.
On plans for further growth, we’re strongly focused on building our partner relationships even more, as well as creating high-quality games that can really appeal to Italian players. Our unique gamification tools will no doubt be key to this and are a strong factor in our focus on boosting engagement. So, in short, we’re very excited about Italy’s potential, and we’re confident that our unique approach will continue to resonate with players and partners alike.
What has been the principal driver behind Evoplay selecting Italy as a key market for growth? How would you summarise Italy’s online audience and demographics?
Our main drive here is the increasing adoption of online gaming from land-based. The numbers are clear to see; the online market revenue is projected to grow by 6.69% annually between 2023 and 2027, reaching a total volume of €3.68bn. On audience and demographics, the country is incredibly broad and diverse – which means significant opportunity. There’s a potential market of up to 20 million people for online, with a ratio of approximately 60:40 of male vs. female.
Given that near-parity, we can pursue plenty of creative options. The 25-34 age group is the largest segment, so demand for innovative entertainment is on the rise – which is a gap that Evoplay is serving well! It’s also good to note the level of smartphone penetration – with over 80% of the population using new generation smartphones, game content should be heavily mobile-optimised.
As well as being one of Europe’s biggest gaming markets – Italy also has a unique retail heritage with as much as 90% of gaming still happening offline. What strengths can you offer to operators to provide a platform for conversion into the online world?
Italy’s land-based gaming heritage certainly sets it apart from the rest of Europe. Online gaming holds distinctive benefits such as convenience, a greater variety of games, and of course, bonuses and promotions such as tournaments and quests. I believe that in-game and out-game gamification tools can effectively drive player engagement and improve conversion efforts for sports bettors and offline players. And, of course, those in-game and out-game gamification features add to the whole thrill of playing online, creating a community.
At Evoplay, we pride ourselves on our ability to create immersive and engaging games offline with strong visual and audio elements that can create an experience as exciting as a real casino. We believe that this is particularly important in the Italian market, where players are accustomed to the sensory experience of playing offline and improving conversion efforts for sports bettors and offline players. As a result, we focus heavily on our unique range of gamification features and incentives for our partners.
In addition, we also work closely with our partners to ensure that our games are integrated seamlessly onto their platforms, making it easy for players to access and play them. We understand that trust is a key factor in Italy, so we emphasise ensuring that our games are secure and reliable.
Onto slot types – what gaming trends are you seeing for Italian players and how are you catering to that demand? Which of Evoplay’s games is performing the best?
It’s common knowledge that football is Italy’s favourite sport, and it’s a huge industry with millions of people betting on it. This has had a significant impact on gaming trends in the country. Instant games have become particularly popular, providing a nice contrast to the wait for live sports fixtures when betting. Players love the instant results they get from these games, and it’s a refreshing change of pace. So of course, football-themed games work perfectly for this. Another trend we are seeing is that Italians love to play chicken-themed titles, so this is certainly an avenue we’re continuing to develop!
We are always looking to stay ahead of the curve and provide our Italian players with the latest and most innovative gaming experiences. Classic slots, video slots, in-game gamification elements, out-game gamification, tournaments, and quests are trending heavily, and we’re actively catering to that demand. Our current top-performing games in the Italian market are Penalty Shoot-out, Fruit Super Nova Game Collection, Elven Princesses, and Hot Triple Sevens. These games are loved by players for their engaging gameplay, stunning graphics, and exciting bonus features.
As a truly innovative studio, how can you help online operators improve their conversion efforts for sports bettors and offline players? What can you offer that’s different?
Sports, and indeed sports betting, is an essential part of the Italian fabric. We understand that importance, and we’re proud to offer RNG-based games that provide a unique sports betting experience.
Our games are also designed to be integrated seamlessly with sports betting platforms, which means that players can quickly switch between gaming and sports betting, with the same action enjoyed across both. Evoplay’s RNG-based Football Pack is a vital component of this commitment as it offers a unique and exciting experience that adds to the overall thrill of the betting experience.
Testament to this is the success of our Penalty Shoot-out. This instant game is unique because it features an innovative betting method that keeps players engaged and excited. As players navigate through the game, they experience a realistic penalty shoot-out where they get to choose the nation they want to represent and aim for goal.
Last but not least, what’s Evoplay’s vision for Italy 2023 and 2024? What are your plans for growing even further in the market and entertaining players?
Our vision for Italy in 2023 and 2024 is focused on growth and continued innovation. The market is a core part of our European strategy, and we’re committed to providing the best gaming experiences possible for players here.
To achieve this, we’re launching new games of different types that are tailored to local audiences. Especially exciting is that players can expect another game in the Penalty Shoot-out series. Additionally, we’re also preparing our next flagship game, which is truly fresh and unique, and we’re confident it will be a real hit with players here.
We’re also providing our partners with different game packages that include marketing activities and engagement opportunities. We also see plenty more opportunity in transitioning land-based players to online, which gamification will be a key driver towards achieving. We make calculated data-driven moves, so we will be gathering all the data and feedback from our operators and based on the collected information, we will prepare our next steps and make predictions for 2024.