ow did you view the London show this year?
This year’s IGE show was a great success for Octavian, possibly our best show yet! We saw a lot of interest in the solutions we showcased and had many extremely productive meetings with both existing and new customers, so there were many, many positives for us. The last 12 to 18 months have been a hectic time for us with proposed merger and acquisition activities. However, since we secured our OTC Bulletin Board listing and funding last November our whole team has been able to refocus on the business and consolidate our position in the marketplace. That focused effort, coupled with the added impetus our listing has given the company, has opened up a multitude of opportunities, many of which took some big steps forward during the three days of IGE.
Octavian decided to showcase a wide range of developments in IGE. Which response did you have from visitors and clients?
Yes, we introduced a really inspiring mix of new products at IGE. These included High Drive, our new jackpot gaming system, Gextech’s new Fantastic League Spot The Ball content, which is now running on our Symphony DE platform, and exciting new converged-media products from a new supplies partner, Global New Media, Inc. High Drive is our latest Progressive Jackpots Gaming System. It runs 8 jackpots in all and is the latest development of our integrated auto-payout jackpot concept. It allows an operator to connect, typically, between 8 to 12 machines. We used Liberty machines for the demo at IGE but other manufacturers’ EGMs can also be used. Together with the integrated plasma, graphical topper and themed Octavian games, this provides an ideal way for operators to create eye-catching hot spots that draw in players and maintain their interest.
We also teamed up with Gextech to make available their Fantastic League Spot The Ball game content on the Octavian Symphony DE platform. This means operators can now bring this latest development of the world’s leading virtual football game to land-based fixed-odds betting terminals.
In supplies, we introduced a range of advanced converged-media solutions from Global New Media. These new solutions deliver added value games and services direct to casino/casino hotel customers via mobile phones, PDAs and a unique new Wi-Fi TV remote. It’s a really interesting area that broadens reach and provides an innovative direct channel of communication.
Among new products released, which is the one that generates more expectations in terms of its potential in the future?
Each of these new product areas attracted a great deal of attention and interest at the show.
Spot The Ball updates a classic game format and delivers it using the latest technologies. It recalls memories of newspaper Spot The Ball competitions and we believe it will work well in the UK, mainland Europe and in Latin America, all regions where football has a high profile and a massive fan base. I think our timing is good too, as interest in football will grow considerably in the lead up to the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa, which will once again create a global football frenzy.
The High Drive system had many admirers also. The number of Progressive jackpots available with this new jackpot gaming system really engages players on multiple levels, and we are confident that High Drive will extend the success achieved with our similar ExtraCash jackpot and staffless payout system.
The Global New Media handheld converged-media products attracted major interest, too, as we expected. So many people nowadays rely on iPhones, Blackberries or similar devices, so it was easy for customers to see the potential of the featured products in new wireless channels and direct communications to casino customers and hotel guests. This partnership offers endless opportunities for our casino customers, whatever their wireless gaming strategy. Also, in light of the recently launched Lotto Rwanda, which is built on an Octavian-designed and deployed wireless national network, there is clearly potential to integrate these new solutions into our OctaLotto offering.
In addition, although not entirely new, the Octavian EasyStart entry-level casino system made its European show debut. That proved to be a big draw at this show, as it was at G2E Las Vegas, particularly as the Octavian EasyStart monthly fee payment model now brings an advanced, easy to use casino system within the reach of many more casino operators.
Similarly, our Comma6A games for the Italian AWP market once more generated many enquiries, which is hardly surprising since four of these new titles now occupy the top sales positions in this market.
Does the company have any particular strategy or plan to face the current international economic crisis?
Octavian has spent considerable time and money over the last few years investing in products for both its existing markets and new emerging markets Our Comma6A AWP games are a good example of this, and we are now reaping the benefits of that continual investment. We have been working with the Italian market since 2004 and, after a long and drawn-out process whilst the legislation was being clarified, Octavian is now achieving significant success and market share in Italy, with our games titles now topping the sales charts. That’s just one example of how our long-term approach to growing the company is helping us to ride out downturns ands flattening-out in other markets.
As I stated at G2E in 2008, we have also seen the measures we put in place in recent years coming to fruition. We now have less dependence on a few geographic markets and strong growth across a broader spread of markets and products. The past year has also seen significant time and money invested in our lottery systems offering – and we are benefiting from that already through projects such as Lotto Rwanda, which launched successfully in December 2008.
In addition, Octavian has huge systems knowledge and experience, which positions us well during periods such as this. With the economic downturn, operators and governments will want to protect profit margins and taxes, and several governments (Colombia being one example) are looking to impose systems in their territories to ensure that all transactions are strictly monitored and that all monies owed are correctly calculated and paid.
Operators themselves, whether driven by increasing regulatory pressures or the need to outperform their competitors in tougher market conditions, are also well disposed towards Octavian systems solutions in times such as these. After all, our systems are designed from the ground up to help operators increase efficiency and profitability, retain and develop customers, and make gaming floors, and venues generally, more attractive. These are things that operators need to focus on very sharply when times are tough. So, in summary, I believe Octavian has an excellent broad spread of opportunity across an ever-developing gaming and lottery world – and we have solutions that customers need to survive and thrive.
What is your view of the recently ended 2008 and what do you expect for 2009?
For Octavian, 2008 was a year of focusing on product development and securing our company listing. That work has put us in a position of strength for the year ahead – about which we are very optimistic. In the current climate, we can understand why many are less optimistic. No one, not even our political and financial leaders, can predict how long the global downturn will last and what the full impact will be.
However, there have been so many significant developments for Octavian in recent months, and even in the days since IGE ended, that we can only look forward with high expectations. From where we stand – and having recently raised us$ 13 million to fund the next exciting stage of our development – we can certainly see some strong rays of sunlight!
I should also state again that we have made sensible and well-informed strategic decisions and realignments over the last few years to ensure that Octavian is well placed for the future. Today, we are no longer dependent on individual markets, we continue to forge strategic alliances with other strong industry players and we continue to explore and enter new emerging markets.
The investment we have made, and continue to make, in developing our systems and games ensures that they are well suited and flexible to new markets and market areas. Increasingly we will see Octavian systems and modules used not just as discrete solutions, to manage casino slots for example, but as end-to-end gaming systems. They will not be limited to managing only land-based casino operations but will be used to manage broader, integrated gaming and lottery operations as well as a new generation of gaming across a wide range of devices and platforms.
Also, we continue to shift away from one-time equipment or solution sales to participation and recurring revenue models, and also to consultancy, start-ups and turnkey solutions. As a company we are technology-based, but we are about technology innovation, integration and partnership – activities that add value, efficiency and profit opportunity to each of our customer’s or partner’s businesses. All of these factors, taken alongside the extremely close and mutually rewarding working relationships we enjoy with customers and collaborators, lead us to believe we are well placed to work through the downturn and emerge as an even stronger, more successful and resilient company.
How would you describe the presence of the firm in Latin America and how important is that market for Octavian?
Octavian has had strong presence in Latin America for a long time and it is an important and growing market for us. In terms of future importance, it is one of a number of emerging markets that will play an increasingly significant role in our global business. With additional new markets opening and legislation changing, we are in a very good position to maximise opportunities in this market and we anticipate strong demand across the region for our systems and games.