“We are growing every year and 2020 is no different”

Steve Valentine, Director of Interactive at Comtrade Gaming.
Steve Valentine, Director of Interactive at Comtrade Gaming.

Exclusive Interview.- Focus Gaming News speaks with Steve Valentine, Director of Interactive at Comtrade Gaming, about the company’s performance in 2020.

Director of Interactive at Comtrade Gaming, Steve Valentine, has highlighted the company’s performance during the toughest year in recent years and assessed how different markets look as we get closer to 2021.

How has the company fared in 2020 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic?

We have been very fortunate in the fact that despite the pandemic 2020 will still be a year of significant growth for us. At the start of the year, many of our clients had to adapt quickly to lockdown restrictions which impacted their land-based business but we were able to help then channel their client base online where they have seen huge growth. Clients that were already purely online had to adapt from an operational point of view with most people working from home and we had to react quickly to support them with that change

Have you made any changes to your strategy or product focus because of the pandemic?

Our player account management system (iCore) had always been our leading offering and this hasn’t changed. However, we have seen a large increase in interest in our RGS (gCore) product. This is a highly developed game server which is already used by some of the largest vendors and operators for their online slot content. Extensive game frameworks and SDK’s allow operators to build new games very quickly. A paytable adapter allows immediate configuration of the RTP and it allows new math models to be built or simply just imported. It supports all existing known slot features and the game frameworks can easily be extended for brand new game concepts. We already have two new clients this year who are busy building games and we look forward to sharing the news very soon.

“2020 will still be a year of significant growth for us.”

Steve Valentine, Director of Interactive at Comtrade Gaming.

Despite the pandemic, you still managed to score some partnership deals like EGT & Playson, how important is it to reach out to other companies and work together? How difficult is it with industry shows going virtual?

Forming new partner relationships remotely is fairly straight forward, everybody already pretty much knows who everyone is and the risks on both sides are very limited. Establishing new client relationships is more difficult, we typically like to get to know our clients very well before any commitment is made and we like them to feel very comfortable with us.

When you can’t just hop on a plane and speak face to face or have people to visit your offices makes building relationships harder. People have currently adapted to this way of working but it’s not long term substitute for meeting face to face. We haven’t really had the time or the need to get involved with virtual shows as we have been extremely busy with projects that were lined up before the pandemic and we have won new clients during it. It is great that the industry reacted so quickly in organizing the online events but I am yet to be convinced about their real value.

Back in 2019, Aleš Gornjec said Comtrade prides itself on sustainable growth, how has the company managed to grow during such a difficult 2020?

We are growing every year and 2020 is no different. We benefit greatly from being privately owned and having a very long term strategy. Comtrade Gaming has been in business for 16 years, Aleš has been with the company since the very start and I have been with the company for 11 years. That level of stability goes right the way through our business and our clients also benefit greatly from that. When an operator picks a new vendor or a tech partner it’s important that the company they chose is the still same company in 5 years’ time. Many gaming companies these days are built for the sole purpose of an exit strategy and when this happens it’s quite often the clients who pay the price when the focus shifts under new owners.

“We are still watching the US market with extreme interest.”

Steve Valentine, Director of Interactive at Comtrade Gaming

We focus on long-term client relationships which bring significant value for both parties. Existing client satisfaction is key for us and any new client we onboard is always done in a way that ensures we can maintain that high level of service to our existing ones.

The US market seems to be at a key moment, with major growth ahead, how important is that market for Comtrade? Which other markets do you consider important or relevant for your operations?

We are still watching the US market with extreme interest. Our main business focus is based around an enterprise-level player account management system, the need for such a product is normally realised by more mature gaming operations when player acquisition and retention becomes more competitive. There was a big rush to just get a sportsbook deal done, quite often fully managed and almost at any cost. It’s very difficult for one software vendor to be an expert in all areas. Once new US online operators have more experience they will want to take more control of individual elements, this is will then bring a lot of opportunity for our products.

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