The integration of AI technology is set to usher in a new era in iGaming, according to Evolution CPO Todd Haushalter.
Speaking at a recent networking event in Malta, Haushalter revealed that in a recent experiment, one of Evolution’s development teams was able to create as much as 80% of the artwork for a new slot game using the AI tool Midjourney.
“Just the finishing touches were done by hand,” he added.
Midjourney is a generative AI programme created and hosted by Midjourney Inc., an independent research lab based in San Francisco.
Midjourney generates images based on natural language descriptions, referred to as “prompts,” in a manner similar to OpenAI’s DALL-E and Stable Diffusion.
“AI is definitely here to stay, and we all need to embrace it,” Haushalter said.
He highlighted AI’s ability to unlock a wide array of possibilities and use cases, ranging from SEO optimisation to fraud prevention and detection.
In the highly competitive game development industry, Haushalter has forecast challenges for smaller game studios over the next two years.
He explained that the economics of being a small studio with minimal distribution or having to endure platform fees to bolster distribution, is a big obstacle to overcome.
Furthermore some bigger studios release one new game per week, crowding the available space on casino apps, especially when combined with their superior distribution.
The best is yet to come
Nevertheless, Haushalter remained optimistic about the future of slot game development, asserting that the “best game is yet to be created”.
Addressing the competitive landscape, Haushalter acknowledged the barriers to entry are relatively low particularly in slot development, while the barriers to success are very high, and they are even higher in live casino.
He pointed out that even a small group of individuals can come together to start a slots company and establish their own niche, whether based on geography or player segments.
In live casino, on the other hand, a massive organisation is needed with expertise ranging from video production, to stopping card counters, and everything in-between.
As larger companies grow, Haushalter cautioned against complacency, suggesting that they can lose focus, which creates opportunities for new companies to enter the market.
Ground for innovation
Looking ahead, Haushalter predicted that many games developed for the online realm will find their way into land-based casinos, noting that traditionally it was the other way round, with popular land-based games often inspiring online adaptations.
These developments mark an exciting time for product development as the convergence of online and land-based gaming creates a fertile ground for innovation, in his view.
Earlier this year, Evolution hit the headlines when it unveiled its biggest new game show since Crazy Time with the launch of 1970s-inspired and disco-themed Funky Time.
The development of Funky Time involved the collaboration of nearly 100 individuals, making it the most elaborate and costly game ever created by the company.
While typical game shows take around nine months to develop, Funky Time’s production spanned nearly 18 months, highlighting the extensive effort invested in its creation.
Evolution has unveiled its biggest new game show since Crazy Time with the launch of 1970s-inspired and disco-themed Funky Time.
The title has gone live this week after being unveiled at ICE London in February, where CPO Todd Haushalter promised a “more volatile” playing experience with the potential for higher payouts.
The online game with live presenter is designed to celebrate the iconic disco era with a retro club dancefloor and funky beats, while players can accumulate multipliers in all phases of the game.
The game is centred on a spinning DigiWheel, the rotating HD digital gaming wheel acquired by Evolution in 2021.
The wheel generates numerous random multipliers per round, which can further multiply winnings on either numbers, letters or bonus games.
The 64 segments on the wheel, which spell out the words PLAY, FUNK and TIME, offer different ways to win and progress in the game.
If players land on a bonus segment, they will proceed to one of four unique bonus games; Bar, Stayin’ Alive, Disco and VIP Disco, in which multipliers are guaranteed.
“We have created most of the top 10 new games of the last five years, many of which are our live game shows, and we’re confident that Funky Time will achieve similar success,” said Haushalter.
“When I first saw the DigiWheel, a big vertical revolving wheel with an electronic LED centre, I knew there was a great game show to be built around it.
“Then the team and I started brainstorming what that game could be, and we knew we were onto something very special with Funky Time,” he added.
Nearly 100 people were involved in the development of the game, which has been described as the “most expensive and complex game” ever created by the company.
The Funky Time product was in development for the best part of 20 months, whereas most gameshows take around nine months to develop.
“I hope players enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it,” added Haushalter.
In an exclusive interview with iGaming NEXT, the experienced CPO revealed that expectations were extremely high for Funky Time.
“I am dreaming that on the first day, something like 4,000 or 5,000 concurrent players will take part right out of the gate,” he said at the time. “If that happens, it will beat any previous record by around five times.”
Evolution has unveiled a suite of brand new casino games at ICE London 2023.
In conversation with iGaming NEXT, chief product officer Todd Haushalter described the inspiration behind some of its biggest upcoming title releases.
Funky Time: The next generation gameshow
The biggest title unveiled by Evolution at ICE was Funky Time, its fourth generation gameshow title utilising the firm’s proprietary Digiwheel technology.
Evolution acquired Digiwheel in 2021 and now uses the product to power its Monopoly Live, Monopoly Big Baller and Crazy Time gameshow titles.
Haushalter described those releases as the first, second and third generation of Evolution’s gameshow content, with Funky Time set to offer a more volatile playing experience with the potential for higher payouts.
“The inspiration came from Crazy Time, which is the world’s most popular online game,” Haushalter told iGaming NEXT.
“Everybody asks us ‘when are you going to do another Crazy Time?’ and we came up with this disco idea. Crazy Time is a carnival, and Funky Time is a disco.”
The game features several elements previously seen in Evolution’s wheelhouse, including the use of bouncing balls for bonus rounds, and interaction between live dealers and virtual characters.
One major difference between this and previous gameshow titles is the number of betting options available – with Funky Time offering 17 separate bet spots, as compared to eight on Crazy Time.
“Everybody asks us ‘when are you going to do another Crazy Time?’ and we came up with this disco idea. Crazy Time is a carnival, and Funky Time is a disco.”
Haushalter is convinced the added complexity won’t deter players because the increased number of betting options means higher payouts for winning players.
“So you’re constantly seeing either bonuses or 25/1 payouts, whereas in Crazy Time you so often see payouts at 1/1, 2/1 or 5/1,” he explained.
The expanded betting options on offer are the result of the development of the continued gameshow genre, Haushalter said.
“We would never have started out with a gameshow that has 17 bet spots, but this is our fourth generation wheel game, so I’m comfortable with it.
“Lightning Roulette has 37 bet spots, and does really well, so I think Funky Time is going to be pretty consumable.”
He said that customers who currently place $2 bets across several bet spots on Crazy Time will likely split up their stakes and bet across a broader range on Funky Time.
“Because they’re going to be hitting all the time. I can’t hit that point hard enough,” he added.
The product has been in development for the past 18 months and will be released to customers in May.
Usually, a gameshow title takes around nine months to develop, but the added complexity of Funky Time led to a significantly longer development process, Haushalter said.
Changes to Digiwheel’s hardware and making the bouncing ball element consistent all contributed to the increased lead time for the product.
But it has been time well spent, Haushalter insists. The CPO has high hopes for the product upon launch, and says he does not even want to release any new slot titles during the same week it comes out. “I don’t want to be up against Funky Time,” he said.
By way of comparison, Crazy Time typically sees between 15,000 and 20,000 players concurrently at any given time, whereas a typical new game launch would see around 1,000 concurrent players take part on its first day.
For Funky Time, Haushalter said: “I am dreaming that on the first day, something like 4,000 or 5,000 concurrent players will take part right out of the gate. If that happens, it will beat any previous record by around five times. So yeah, expectations are high.”
Turn up the spice: Extra Chilli Epic Spins
Next on Evolution’s new product releases was Extra Chilli Epic Spins – the second “live slot” product from Evolution following the launch of Crazy Coin Flip last year.
Building on Big Time Gaming’s Extra Chilli slot game, Extra Chilli Epic Spins introduces a live studio element to traditional slot play, creating a more varied playing experience with an additional social element – as individual players will be betting on the same live bonus rounds at the same time.
“It’s going to build this community of people that are all trying to achieve the same thing together,” Haushalter explained. “And there’s not much to do when you’re playing a slot, right? So you just sit there and chat.”
“We relied a lot on the people from Red Tiger and NetEnt for everything, from graphics to the way reels spin, to the way reels stop. We didn’t previously have any of that knowledge in-house at Evolution.”
The game’s live elements will also introduce new play mechanics such as the use of a physical piñata connected to a virtual replica, which responds to the exact speed and velocity at which a live dealer strikes the piñata in-studio.
The combination of live dealer games and traditional online slots is the result of Evolution’s acquisition and diversification strategy over recent years.
“We grew up making live games, not slots, but now we finally have that in-house expertise,” Haushalter explained.
“We relied a lot on the people from Red Tiger and NetEnt for everything, from graphics to the way reels spin, to the way reels stop. We didn’t previously have any of that knowledge in-house at Evolution.
“And in all of our games, we don’t ever want to just put a screen up there and have someone stand in front of it and just talk about it. That’s not our mission.
“We want to infuse physical elements, and we want to combine the worlds of live casino and slots. I think for example the idea that you can bet behind your favourite streamer or something like that is cool, sure, but that’s not what we’re trying to do.”
Evolution CEO Martin Carlesund has already underlined the need for improvement in both efficiency and game production across slots and RNG this year.
The firm’s 2022 RNG revenue increased by 5.1% to €268.4m annually, but was still below expectations with Evo targeting double digits.
Looking ahead in 2023
Haushalter insisted there are more live slot games in the pipeline for this year, but remained tight-lipped on the details.
“We’ve got a handful of Asian games coming, we’ve got another handful of gameshows coming up, and we’re going hard into roulette innovation,” he teased.
“If you think about it, Evolution hasn’t done that much in roulette. Obviously, Lightning Roulette is the biggest game of all time by GGR, but we’ve kind of let that one breathe. Now, we have some intensive roulette innovation coming up, and it’s going to be very cool.
“And then we’re going to do another half a dozen first person gaming games from our RNG suite.”
“We’ve got a handful of Asian games coming, we’ve got another handful of gameshows coming up, and we’re going hard into roulette innovation.”
Between slot studios Red Tiger Gaming, NoLimit City, Big Time Gaming and NetEnt, Evolution will release around 100 new slots games over the next year, Haushalter said, in part by doubling the content output from NetEnt. This follows on from 88 new game releases last year.
“I’m also excited to say that half of the games that we’ll be making on the NetEnt side are going to be eligible to have the world class Red Tiger jackpots on them, which a lot of operators have been asking for.”
For now though, Haushalter’s focus is on the May release of Funky Time.
“I think it’s going to be a moment in gaming history, I really do,” he said.
Happyhour.io co-founder and CEO Robin Reed has made a bold prediction during the opening session of iGaming NEXT Valletta 2022.
The former GiG boss appeared on a keynote panel called PREDICTIONS, where he, Evolution CPO Todd Haushalter and Yolo Group founder Tim Heath were invited to look deep into their crystal balls to predict what the industry might have in store.
While looking directly at Evo product chief Haushalter, Reed said he thought Evolution was gearing up to “do the big one”, having already sewn up ambitious deals for NetEnt, Red Tiger, Big Time Gaming and Nolimit City over the last few years.
And Light & Wonder – formerly known as Scientific Games – could be next on the M&A agenda after selling off its lottery and sports betting departments, according to Reed.
“The investors out there will need to take a good look at Todd and see how he reacts to this one because I think Evolution is gearing up to do the big one and I have an idea of who that could be,” said Reed.
“Light & Wonder,” predicted Reed. “They have made their business far less complicated. They are sitting on one of the strongest land-based catalogues.
“They are doing about $200m per quarter in EBITDA, about the same as Evolution. They have about 25% market share in the US, the same as Evolution.
“They have an enterprise value of about $8bn these days, while Evolution has an enterprise value of $19bn or $20bn.
“Evolution could fortify their position against the vertical integration we are seeing in the US market against the challenges that come left, right and centre in the live casino space and it would open up new opportunities.
Happyhour.io CEO Robin Reed: “The investors out there will need to take a good look at Todd and see how he reacts to this one because I think Evolution is gearing up to do the big one.”
“As we’re transitioning from Web 2 to Web 3, we need to be more open-minded as there will be a lot of disruption and I think it makes complete sense,” he added.
Haushalter laughed along at the speculation but refused to comment when pushed further.
Only time will tell if the prediction holds weight, but iGaming-interested investors should keep a keen eye on both companies over the coming quarters.
Later on in the panel, the speakers were asked to recommend one stock to investors. Reed chose Evolution, at which point Haushalter pumped his fist in the air in celebration.
For rationale, Reed said: “The one-stop shop is making headway, you have done bolt-on acquisitions and consolidated them well.
“The last report was strong and the share price dipped. Then the CEO increased about €10m worth of shares – he’s all in and so are you.
“The share price has dipped, but only market economics could bring it down further in my opinion.
“It has to be a good buy,” he concluded.
The conference is being live streamed here.
The share price of Evolution has risen more than 8% in today’s trading (26 September) after CEO Martin Carlesund bought a further 126,000 shares in the live casino giant.
The Swede acquired the additional shares through a separate company called Opum LTD at a purchase price of SEK797.91 per share or SEK100.5m overall, the equivalent to €9.2m or $8.9m.
The transaction was filed on 23 September, but news filtered through this week via Nasdaq Stockholm and the Financial Supervisory Authority’s transparency register.
This triggered the share price uptick, as inside buys from key execs are often viewed bullishly by external investors as a major vote of confidence in the company.
Key members of Carlesund’s senior management team also made a play for Evolution stock.
Chief product officer (CPO) Todd Haushalter bought 4,000 shares in Evolution on the same day for a price of SEK783 per share, or SEK3.1m overall (€280,000).
The news was well received by Evolution shareholders after a 33.3% dip in the share price for the year-to-date.
Using the latest shareholding figures on the Evolution website, Carlesund and Haushalter now own 710,923 and 96,300 shares respectively.
For comparison, the largest individual shareholder in Evolution remains British billionaire businessman and property developer Richard Livingstone, with 9,121,997 shares and 4.2% of capital and votes in the company.
American financial giant Capital Group is still the single largest shareholder in Evolution, with almost 35 million shares and 16.1% of votes in the company. The LA-based fund boasts more than $2.6 trillion in assets under management.
In a landmark edition of the iGaming NEXT Podcast, host Pierre Lindh caught up with Evolution CPO Todd Haushalter to talk about the creation of the iGaming industry’s most popular talk show.
Recorded at La Luz, one of our favourite venues in Sliema, Malta, no topic was off limits as the duo discussed dealing cards, their favourite books and even the polarisation of American politics.
The episode marked the podcast’s 100th edition, some two years after iGaming NEXT released its first episode in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in April 2020.
Following its inception, Haushalter first appeared as a guest on the show’s sixth episode, which helped to build the momentum as the product expert’s followers and fans flocked to the fledgling pod to learn about the latest developments in the online casino space.
Lindh had started the podcast with little experience, and braved the teething problems associated with creating content in an unfamiliar format. In his own words: “If you go back and look at the first episodes, like they are truly horrible. Like, really, really, really bad.”
iGaming NEXT MD Pierre Lindh: “If you go back and look at the first episodes, like they are truly horrible. Like, really, really, really bad.”
Fortunately for listeners of the iGaming NEXT Podcast, Lindh followed his insatiable curiosity – described by Haushalter as a “superpower” – and continued upon the path to creating the kind of content that listeners love today.
The benefits of the podcast are not limited to its listeners, however. Lindh insists the interviewing process has been great for his own personal development.
“For example, when we report on the quarterly reports, you know, it really forces you to dig into the reports in a way that I wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t forced to be put on the spot and talk about them,” said Lindh.
“So for me, a really great thing about running a podcast is just the fact that you have such a great motivation to learn and develop.”
Haushalter agreed with Lindh’s assessment. When it comes to staying curious and learning new things, he said: “It’s a superpower. You don’t have to be brilliant or anything like that. I mean, it’s useful to be smart, but if you have endless energy and passion, that’s the secret sauce.
“I think that’s what’s going to carry you through; you’ll think about everything more deeply, particularly in the product world.”
Indeed, the same curiosity and passion has aided Haushalter through his long career in the casino industry, he said, from dealing cards on the Las Vegas Strip to spearheading the product roadmap at a multi-billion euro company such as Evolution.
Haushalter always keeps his curiosity detectors on as he looks to Evolution’s future, he explained.
When asked to imagine what industry changes might disrupt Evolution’s position as a market leader, he said: “The idea that a metaverse – and it could be Grand Theft Auto, the metaverse could be the one Facebook’s building, it could be Decentraland, it could be Sandbox, whatever, there’s going to be many more – but if you have an environment where people are spending significant amounts of their digital time, and they offer gaming, at some insane scale, that could be very disruptive if they were both the supplier and the operator all at once.
“If we fast forward 20 years and you asked ‘something disrupted Evo, what was it?’ I’d say it would be something like that. And it would be like, there’s two global winners or something like that. And they are the operator, the supplier, the payment provider, and they just do everything.
“But the way things are set up, with the competitive flow and the compliance, we’re a million miles from that right now.”
Evolution CPO Todd Haushalter: “You don’t have to be brilliant or anything like that. I mean, it’s useful to be smart, but if you have endless energy and passion, that’s the secret sauce.”
Expert predictions, analysis and commentary across the biggest developments in iGaming have all helped to form the backbone of the iGaming NEXT Podcast.
However, at times the show also likes to surprise its viewers with something off script.
Lindh’s favourite moments from the pod’s back catalogue include GamingMalta COO Ivan Filletti serenading listeners on his acoustic guitar, as well as Paul Leyland of Regulus Partners providing his analysis of the short-seller report that sent Evolution shares tumbling in late 2021.
Then, in a heartfelt and unexpected turn, First Sports Media president and CEO Lyudmila Milenina explained the courage required to carry on as a young mother and entrepreneur during Russia’s invasion of her home country of Ukraine.
That is the power of the iGaming NEXT Podcast. It brings together stakeholders from across our diverse and curious industry, providing a platform to make a mark and tell their stories.
Always honest and unfiltered – and occasionally controversial – iGaming NEXT is proud to support our industry with a podcast as we join forces to push its development forward.
Most importantly, none of this would be possible without our listeners. So to those of you who have been with us since the beginning, and to those who are only just joining the party, we say: Thank you, and here’s to the next 100 episodes!
La Luz is a cozy little cocktail bar in Sliema with a whole lot of spirit. Easily found by the neon praying hands outside, one would be forgiven for thinking it resembled a quaint chapel nestled between houses somewhere amongst the throes of Mexico City, for that is exactly the vibe inside.
From the Spanish meaning ‘The Light’, in their own words, La Luz “stands as a kind of spiritual reminder not to lose hope, and to keep fighting when the going gets tough.” Words that hit home for the team at iGaming NEXT over the past couple of years, it was for exactly this reason we felt it was the perfect location for our 100th podcast, as well as a sanctuary to unwind for our team.
You can check them out at https://laluz.bar/ and book for private events. Be sure to tell them iGaming NEXT sent you and they will make you feel like family.
Ahead of his appearance at iGaming NEXT New York City ‘22, iGaming NEXT sat down with Evolution chief product officer Todd Haushalter to talk all things online casino in the burgeoning US iGaming market.
iGaming NEXT: How important are US markets to the future success of Evolution?
TH: The North American online casino market is particularly exciting and continues to develop rapidly. The group is determined to be operational in every newly regulated state from day one. There is also significant growth opportunity in all the current regulated states, and we are expanding our studios and adding new ones to keep up with demand from operators.
Evolution Group’s live casino products are currently operational in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan and we are looking forward to launching a state-of-the-art new studio in Connecticut later this quarter, as well as launching our live casino in West Virginia. Evolution Group brands NetEnt and Red Tiger’s slots are already available in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan and Connecticut.
iGN: What makes these markets so exciting to work in?
TH: In Europe, online gaming is a long-established industry, and the mature markets within the region are demonstrating slower growth – in part due to regulatory change affecting operators. This couldn’t be any more different in the US, where we see US markets catching up with their European counterparts at an exciting rate – business is booming!
Because of the relatively unexplored nature of the US iGaming landscape, we see markets forming with unique nuances and specifics, and new players and entities coming in and demanding a piece of the pie. Competition is fierce; household brands including brick-and-mortar casinos are tough competitors, but it’s a hugely interesting market and super exciting to be in.
iGN: Does Evolution tailor its products specifically for the US? How do customer preferences differ compared to Europe?
TH: The short answer is yes. From all our North American studios, we offer world-class games that are tailored to this market and its players. Whether it’s live casino or slots, we provide innovative casino classics as well as games with unique twists. We also offer all new game show-style games that have never been seen in this market before. We have tailored many live studios and RNG table games alongside NFL teams that are partners of our operators. Examples of this are Unibet’s Eagle Blackjack.
Many of the games that are so successful in Europe need no introduction to American players. Games such as Roulette, Blackjack, and Baccarat are classics all over the world. There is a huge, global appetite for variants and unique twists on these player favourites, and these products can be differentiated for an American audience. For example, the demand for Lightning Roulette in American markets was so great that we had to build a new studio to tailor it for that specific audience.
iGN: You’ll be giving a headline talk on the first day of iGaming NEXT NYC. Can you give us a sneak preview of what to expect?
TH: Being at Evolution, one gets a uniquely wide view of the industry. We meet all the regulators, and all the operators, in all the markets, all over the world. We also have our own wide offering of slots and live, and in this presentation I am going to share some ideas on what the best performers in our industry will look like in the future, and how their offering will look. We will also do a deep dive into the world of live casino and what it takes to satisfy players and operators in this space.
iGN: Why is it important for companies like Evolution to participate in iGaming NEXT NYC?
TH: iGaming NEXT is the perfect place for us to showcase our portfolio of exciting games to the North American market and meet with our customers, investors and industry peers. The bar is set high for 2022 and we’ve already announced our decision to release 88 new games globally this year.
Specifically for the North American Market, we are excited to launch games from our successful Lightning family, such as Lightning Roulette and Lightning Blackjack. Lightning Roulette has proved to be a success for players worldwide, and we are excited to bring the game to the US market.
The US market is very exciting because we see increasing growth as more players find our games and enjoy their gaming experience. We’re opening new studios, adding more live casino tables, and expanding our RNG offering with more slots and table games to continue our growth.
iGN: Besides the conference and networking events, what else are you most looking forward to during your time in New York?
TH: I’ll be catching up with old friends from around the world who are all coming to New York for this event, and of course, I wouldn’t miss seeing the Yankees play!
Todd Haushalter will give a keynote speech at iGaming NEXT NYC at 12:55PM on Thursday 12 May. View the full agenda here.
Evolution CEO Martin Carlesund earned a remuneration package of more than €10m in full-year 2021 according to the live casino giant’s latest annual report.
The Swedish chief executive was paid a base salary of €1.94m and a bonus of €5.76m as the Stockholm-listed company reported a 90% rise in full-year revenue to €1.07bn.
Carlesund received a further €2.42m in social security benefits during the period. According to PwC, employers pay Swedish employer social security contributions on compensation paid to employees who are covered by the Swedish social security system.
These contributions are levied at 31.42% of the total taxable remuneration in cash and in kind paid by a Swedish employer.
Carlesund’s 2021 pay topped out at €10.14m. For comparison, Flutter Entertainment CEO Peter Jackson earned a total remuneration package of £8.40m last year.
This represents an enormous year-on-year increase of 457.4% for Carlesund, who took home €1.82m in 2020.
The Swede’s €5.76m bonus came in at nearly €500,000 more than the combined bonus of Evolution’s additional six-person senior management team, which totalled €5.28m.
Excluding Carlesund, the senior management team includes CTO David Craelius, CPO Todd Haushalter, COO Olesya Ivanova, CFO Jacob Kaplan, chief strategy officer Sebastian Johannisson and chief HR officer Louise Wiwen-Nilsson.
They shared a combined remuneration package of €13.64m, while chairman of the board Jens von Bahr was rewarded with a base salary of €418,000 and total remuneration of €549,000.
Evolution paid a total of €24.5m to its board members and management team in 2021, up almost 300% on last year.
“Remunerations to senior executives consist of a fixed salary part and a variable part,” said Evolution in the report. “The annual variable part is to be cash based and be based on predetermined and measurable performance criteria.”
Alongside a 90% rise in full-year revenue, EBITDA climbed by 121% in 2021 to €734.7m as profit soared by 113% to €284.6m.
Evolution’s share price climbed by more than 54% in full-year 2021 during a rollercoaster 12 months of public trading.
The stock rocketed by more than 100% to a 2021 high of SEK1683.40 on 30 April before plummeting to an annual low of SEK 878.20 on 2 December. It recovered to SEK1286.20 at year-end and sits at SEK1057.40 at the time of writing.
Evolution also revealed a gender distribution figure in its 2021 report. There are two women on the company’s executive board and two women on the five-person senior management team excluding Carlesund, which represents a proportion of 29%.
As many of us fight to maintain our New Year’s resolutions, Evolution has set itself an extremely ambitious target for 2022 – to launch 90 new games in just 12 months.
For Evolution, last year was about getting its house in order according to CEO Martin Carlesund, who first revealed the 90-game pledge to Swedish newswire Nyhetsbyrån Direkt.
The Stockholm-listed supplier spent much of 2021 on integrations by bringing the acquired NetEnt, Red Tiger and Big Time Gaming businesses up to standard.
Later in the year, Evolution’s laser-like business focus was temporarily derailed after a controversial report alleged it engaged in illegal activity in markets subject to US sanctions.
New year, new me
At the time, reaction to the report wiped out nearly €5bn of Evolution’s stock market value.
Carlesund admits 2021 was an “intense” period for the business, but he is confident the controversy will be confined to the history books and has plans to bounce back in style.
After laying the distractions of the last 12 months to rest, Evolution intends to pump up production in 2022 with the launch of 90 new games by year end.
The 90-game pledge would mean an average of 7.5 titles released per month.
The company previously pledged to recruit 1,000 new developers for 2022 and originally planned to unveil its first tranche of 25 new games at ICE London in February.
The exhibition has now been pushed back to April due to Covid, but Evolution still plans to reveal the products next month alongside a Q4 trading update (9 February).
Despite the distractions, Evolution still executed some interesting innovation last year. In June, it utilised NetEnt’s IP to launch Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt, described as the world’s first live casino game to combine live and slots-style gameplay, including virtual reality mode.
Starburst XXXtreme, the highly volatile sequel to the classic NetEnt title went live shortly afterwards, while in September, Evolution’s Red Tiger subsidiary released a new slot called NFT Megaways.
The game tapped into the digital artwork trend by showcasing four unique CryptoPunks previously purchased by the live casino giant.
Evolution CPO Todd Haushalter (pictured) said at the time: “At Evolution we have a long record of innovation and being first with distinctively different new ideas.
“With all of our group brands, our goal is always to offer players the most feature-rich and vivid gameplay possible.
“In essence, it’s all about creativity and originality and that is why the CryptoPunks were such a great fit for us,” he added.
Do you think Evolution can meet the 90-game target? And what type of innovation would you like to see from the business in 2022? Let us know on Twitter @iGamingNEXT.