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Golden Whale co-founder and CTO Thomas Kolbabek talks to iGaming NEXT about the concept of “sensor games” and the advantages they can provide to both operators and suppliers.

iGN: One of the areas that set Golden Whale apart from other data technology companies is that you use the information you gather to assist developers with their game design and optimisation. Can you tell us a bit about the purpose of these so-called “sensor games” and how they work in practice?

TK: Let’s start by defining what we mean by a “sensor game”. At Golden Whale, we consider these to be games that are connected to machine learning models calibrated towards a specific game and that use certain data to predict user behaviour in different dimensions. This information can help operators steer their customer management more precisely, thus making the game more sellable for the supplier.

The approach of using the game as a sensor can be applied to all content available to online gaming operators including slots, table, arcade games and more. By using the system and tools that we have developed, our partners can turn any title in their portfolio into a “sensor game” and even integrate this process into their product roadmaps while their developers are creating new titles.

In practice, we help the studio to gather enough relevant data in an optimal format to make the machine learning models that we have developed and apply work as efficiently as possible. Once they are fired up and become established, our system delivers real-time answers to questions about game mechanics and/or user behaviour. For the developer, this opens up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to creating titles, they can be confident will not only meet but exceed player expectations and create additional value to operators.

iGN: When analysing the data gathered by “sensor games”, what are most relevant pieces of information that a developer should be looking for and how can these inform their future designs?

TK: Developers want to gain a better understanding of how their design decisions impact user behaviour and satisfaction. In the past, design and development have been steered by experience (often learning the hard way with concepts that did not work out) mixed in with a bit of “black magic”. But with the data we allow studios to collect and analyse, it’s possible to come to a better informed understanding of what math, mechanics, features and gameplay might be a hit and what will be a miss in the early stages of development. This allows studios to focus on the creative process, leading to visually striking games that deliver the gameplay players are seeking.

iGN: Are the insights provided by “sensor games” purely for the benefit of software developers or do they also have applications for operators such as helping them to identify different customer types?

TK: They offer tremendous benefits to operators, too. Once the models have been calibrated to each game and are in operation, the data gathered helps to understand player behaviour and forms a key part of the feedback loop the studio is able to provide to the operator, via our platform. Our system allows us to provide relevant, data-based assumptions about the player that can then be included in higher-level models and/or rulesets such as being applied to CRM and bonusing models. There is plenty of opportunities to be explored here, and this is something we will be focusing on more in the coming months.

iGN: How does the use of “sensor games” change the current dynamic between operators and developers? Does having this additional information available create a better feedback loop between both parties and enable them to work together to achieve common goals more efficiently?

TK: The deep knowledge that studios can unlock about games when working with Golden Whale, including the mechanics but especially how they perform across different operators, can be used to generate even greater value from each title. On the operator side, we can also create a more comprehensive, detailed view of game performance through a combination of granular data from the player account management platform and the studio. This feedback can then be integrated instantaneously and used to form part of individual player profiles at a very high level.

iGN: Are there any learnings that can be drawn from “sensor games” for operators working across multiple markets? As localisation of content is so important, drilling down into game performance on a country-by-country basis might have a major impact on how businesses tailor their offerings.

TK: Localisation runs deep and sensor games allow studios to begin the process of progressing market localisation to the next level. At the moment, things like game rules, theme, sound, mechanics, features, bonuses and payouts need to be tweaked for each market to ensure regulatory compliance and cultural acceptance. But there is so much more that can be done here and while deep localisation is still in its early phases of development, sensor games are a very strong starting point for putting the foundations and processes in place for doing this.

iGN: As a company, do you think being able to use data to address challenges from both an operator and developer perspective enables Golden Whale to offer a different level of service from other data technology businesses? What are the advantages of being able to see a more complete picture?

TK: Being able to see data from a single game spread across operators and markets, and to be able to look at data from multiple studios across a single platform, provides a unique perspective for both operators and developers. Our customers understand the opportunities that our system and services provide and are happy to share their data and be part of a more connected ecosystem between both parties. We are incredibly excited about the possibilities that can be explored from such a collaborative approach and at Golden Whale, we continue to innovate and push boundaries so that our customers can maximise the huge potential that data and machine learning offer when combined with a properly collaborative approach between operators and developers.

Thomas Kolbabek co-founded Golden Whale Productions as CTO in April 2022, bringing more than 20 years’ experience in building B2C and B2B gaming platforms worldwide.

After graduating with a degree in Medical Computer Science, Thomas had success scaling teams across a range of sectors, including gaming, banking, real-estate, IoT and IT security solutions. He was an instrumental part of the team that founded Greentube, which he shaped for 19 years and took over as CTO in 2016.

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