Monday August 26,2013 : ARISTOCRAT LEISURE CHIEF TALKS ON INTERNET AND SOCIAL GAMING
Company is prepared for the future with shrewd investment in growing trends
Jamie Odell, the former Fosters exec who has helmed the Aristocrat land and online gambling supply company in Australia for the past four years, talked to the Wall Street Journal over the weekend on his future plans for the enterprise.
Odell said that investment in developing the company's games, company acquisitions and preparing for the social gaming market have positioned Aristocrat strongly in the evolving online gambling and social gaming sphere
"We license our content to online operators in Europe, which is low-margin, and in the U.S. we bought an Internet gaming platform. If a state allows regulated online gambling, we'll be able to press a button and provide that service," he said, but added that he is more excited about social gaming prospects.
He revealed that Aristocrat has acquired Product Madness, a company that has a gaming platform suitable for competing with outfits like Zynga in providing games on major social networking sites like Facebook.
Describing the margins in this type of venture as "phenomenal", Odell pointed out that such sites have memberships in the millions, and once set-up and development costs have been met, operational expenses are relatively small – he expects revenue streams in the tens of millions of dollars over the next two to three years, and that the vertical will be a main contributor to profits over the longer term.
Although he was talking about land gambling in Asia in one part of the WSJ interview, Odell had some interesting things to say about game design that online designers should remember.
He stressed that Asians were great gamblers, but that they prefer games content that they relate to culturally, and it was important to incorporate these in terms of graphics, concept, sounds and language.
"What didn't work for us was trying to take an Australian or American game, say Outback Jack with kangaroos and Ayers Rock, and stick that into Asia," he said, adding that Aristocrat has a team of over 40 keeping an eye on Asian preferences and developments from Macau.
He also revealed that like most companies that have successfully fought through the tough economic climate of the past few years, Aristocrat has become fitter and leaner, spending increasingly on games design and technology – up to A$130 million a year – and hiring top design talent.