Steven Valentine, Chief Commercial Officer

Comtrade Gaming: "After 20 years, it felt like a natural progression to start building our own games"

Steven Valentine, Comtrade's Chief Commercial Officer
Reading time 4:23 min

In more than one way, ICE's 2024 edition was far from a regular one for Comtrade Gaming. The gaming solutions provider took the opportunity provided by the event – the last one to be held in London before it relocates to Barcelona starting next year – to present its new games division, in addition to celebrating two decades in business.

Yogonet was present at the gambling expo and caught up with Steven Valentine, Chief Commercial Officer at Comtrade Gaming, to learn more about these company milestones and what the business has in store for the near future.

ICE is being held in London for the last time and Comtrade Gaming is presenting its new gaming division at the show. What led to this expansion?

We've been in the gaming industry for 20 years now, celebrating these two decades of Comtrade Gaming at ICE. We've always been based around iGaming platforms, delivering them typically to enterprise-level operators like Superbet, Mansion, or Stanleybet, who need the best technology. We also have a Remote Gaming Server (RGS), which we also provide to many other gaming companies out there.

After 20 years of providing that kind of service, it felt like a natural progression to start building our own games, which are going to be high-end games. We're not going to saturate the market with five releases a month. It's going to be very high-end, probably one game a month initially for existing operators who use our iGaming platform, and then catering to every operator.

What can you tell us about the initial lineup of games that are launching along the division?

We've got an initial launch package of ten games, sort of a day-one launch. Two of those are crash games, one of them being Space Aviator, which has a very traditional crash feel to it and a very traditional crash look.

But one which I think is a first in the marketplace is a crash soccer game. It's a crash game built around football, coming just in time for the Euro tournament this year. We can customize that game for an operator's brand. So if an operator has a shirt sponsorship with a club, we can brand the shirt on the crash game, or brand all the advertising hoardings for that specific operator.

You described the launch as "a natural progression" to what Comtrade had been offering. Can you expand a bit more on the synergies expected from this division and the existing portfolio?

The biggest difficulty is that the gaming market is kind of saturated with content. There's content everywhere. The one thing that we have is, because we already have clients on our platform, customers who will be able to take our games instantly. Our RGS is already integrated into our iGaming platform, so there's no time delay for operators to take that content.

It gives us a nice easy route to market initially with big operators that we already have on board. So if the games are popular, then other brands will follow what these operators do. We think we'll have a lot of operators who were not currently using our platform come to us for games, which leads us into a conversation with the wider industry.

While part of the focus has been placed on the new division, Comtrade has also been engaging in discussions here at ICE regarding its core offerings. What can you tell us about them?

We've always been very strong at working with existing operators. We typically don't do start-up businesses with our gaming platform; we mostly migrate operators from their existing platform over to ours. Some companies start their business on some other platform, build it up to a certain size, and then they need to concentrate on growth - and that's why they move to us, thanks to our expertise in migrations.

We're developing a lot of AI modules now for things like customer predictions and player activity. I think we're one of the only AI gaming platforms out there. We do an update every three weeks. It's a no-downtime upgrade, so typically most of our operators never suffer any downtime at all. Stability in the AI gaming market is key.

What can you tell us about Comtrade's presence at ICE this year, taking into account it is the last time it is being held in London?  And which markets are you targeting this time around?

Being the last ICE in London is kind of bittersweet for me, coming from the UK. I think it's my 20th visit to ICE. I've been with Comtrade for 15 years, so 75% of my time in gaming has been spent with the company.

ICE is our most important show. It's helped our business grow tremendously over the years. We meet a lot of our potential clients here. Most of our conversations are around our iGaming platform but this year, with the launch of games, that's given us a whole new sort of audience to be talking to.

As for markets, we always say we're operator-driven rather than market-driven. If it's the right operator, we will work with them. That's key for us. You find some technology companies or some gaming customers that only focus on a specific area. What we focus on is the right size operator, and we'll go into any market with them.

Now looking to the future, Comtrade celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2024. What can you tell us about this milestone? And what are your expectations for ICE London's relocation to Barcelona next year?

So 20 years of Comtrade Gaming... I think we're probably one of the most stable gaming companies out there. The nature of gaming is that there's always a lot of M&A activity. Companies get taken over all the time at the will of the shareholders. They are always trying to drive the share price up, so they often don't have a long-term strategy.

We've always had a very long-term strategy because we are privately owned. That means we can have a longer-term view, and that our clients are typically long-term partners. Some clients have been with us for 15 years. Most of them have been with us for well over five years.

As for Barcelona next year, that's going to be interesting. New logistics, obviously, and challenges like that. But as a gaming business, we travel around the world all the time anyway. We go to many shows across the globe, so we'll embrace it and maybe have an even bigger stand next time.

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