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Relax Gaming’s CPO Shares His Experience in the Gambling Industry

07 september 2022
Author: James Burton
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Simon Hammon, a representative of Relax Gaming, shares his experience about a more than 15-year journey in the gambling industry.

Simon Hammon from Relax Gaming

The Casino Market team presents the main summary of the expert’s words and ideas.

About the Specialist

Simon Hammon has worked in the sector for more than 15 years, most of which he has invested in senior product positions. He cooperated with NetEnt for 7 years, rising to the CPO, before transferring to Relax Gaming, where the expert was appointed CEO in July 2022.

Mr Hammon is careful to emphasise that, while having a long career in slot creation, he is not a usual product specialist.

The representative views a release as a business, considering its:

  • economics;
  • dynamics;
  • financial situation;
  • marketability, etc.

On the tech side, he is complemented by clever individuals who are far more knowledgeable.

His time as CPO during NetEnt's heyday featured the launches of such top slots:

  • Starburst;
  • Aliens;
  • South Park;
  • Guns N' Roses.

Switching Companies

Mr Hammon accepted a challenge at Relax in 2018 given that his seven-year tenure at NetEnt coincided with its peak.

The expert acknowledges that after deciding to move on, he was «spoiled for choice» due to NetEnt's fame. The expected suspects appeared. Although it would be good to have them on a press release, he did not want it. Mr Hammon’s actual passion is inventing new things and then taking the market by astonishment.

When the specialist switched the firm, relatively few people were aware of Relax, which seemed to be a significant decline from a theoretical standpoint. Nevertheless, he perceived the action as a smart investment and a deliberate manoeuvre. The expert wanted to leave a mark, and he recognised something exceptional in Relax.

The Debut of the Top Game Solution

At NetEnt, it only took Mr Hammon 6 months to go from ordinary product manager to CPO. The specialist claims this became possible due to his ability to identify the quality of how games were packed and delivered to the industry.

Then there was Starburst, an entertainment that 10 years after its initial release is still clinging to the top of the monthly eGaming Monitor ratings. The hit has been credited to numerous people. Mr Hammon has a stronger claim than most as he was the CPO for its introduction.

The specialist describes the slot as extremely neatly done, and released at a perfect time with free spins and open marketing. He claims that back then, 3D productions were taking up a lot of time and resources, so it felt different.

There was no assurance of Starburst's success even then. For instance, Mr Hammon notes that Boom Brothers, another 3-dimensional game, was «a bit of a flop,» despite its richer visuals. However, the debut of Starburst and Gonzo's Quest marked the beginning of the brand's golden era.

Reasons of Triumph

According to Mr Hammon, Starburst would not be as successful today. He is unsure of whether it would even rank in the top 500 if it were launched now.

Back then, any proper slot with the correct promotion unintentionally and quickly piqued the market's interest. Besides, the sphere got only about 15 new titles a month. For comparison, modern operators launch between 70 and 150 games in 4−5 weeks.

Huge numbers have a significant impact on distributor excitement and product visibility. People used to become very pumped about the features or the upcoming slot.

Now, since there are so many games available, it can be challenging to:

  • get very excited for punters;
  • manage portal takeovers or product positioning for developers.

Everything has changed dramatically in terms of pure ROI as well.

How to Stand out?

Casino slot development

This makes it simpler than ever for suppliers to release a game on the market. Mr Hammon notes that Relax captures some of this through its Silver Bullet programme, which offers the brand's platform and knowledge to engage smaller studios.

There are young firms, made up of 10 or so former employees of well-known companies, that have:

  • fantastic ideas;
  • good funding;
  • a desire to debut on the market solo.

They could never have imagined the opportunities they have today for distribution, licensing or protection.

The fact that getting games live is simpler has also contributed to the increase in their numbers. Before, one would have needed to strive for years to achieve such a level. However, in such a competitive environment, it is getting harder for small studios to stand out, and many of them will struggle to take a deserved place.

According to Mr Hammon, there is the misconception that a brand can eventually develop a product that will stick and provide consistent revenue for traction. However, it is not sufficient to simply release a game.

To ensure there is demand from the end user, studios must:

  • form their value offer;
  • make a persuasive case for their pricing;
  • create player communities.

The expert notes that a lot of developers were in the red until the first hit changed the situation and substantially improved their possibilities. After that, the studios established unique and recognised brands, so the subsequent products got more successful simply out of the companies' wider popularity.

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