This month, we were honored to sit down and talk with Casino International for their June 2019 digital issue. Visit the published article “Getting to Know: HIgh 5 Games” at
Senior Director of Business Development, Nick Chin, introduces us [Casino International] to the industry’s largest independent casino game provider.
Who are the key personnel behind High 5?
Tony Singer is the CEO and – in the US casino industry – is considered a legend. He was there from the beginning twenty years ago when video slots transformed land casino floors, bringing a popular illustrative art style to games with fruits and bells. He also introduced innovative features that have gone on to become commonplace, giving different types of wins that feel visceral to players: super stacks, split symbols, and tumbling reels. We take these for granted now. At the time they were transformative.
Tony’s second act was to bring slot games to Facebook – to social casinos where people play with virtual coins for free, initially, but where they will then pay to play more. Many considered it crazy then but today it is a multi-billion-dollar business and, for High 5, a significant source of revenue. He has also been an iGaming pioneer, bringing High 5 Games’ 300+ game portfolio to online casinos.
This includes not just the well-known IGT titles, such as Da Vinci’s Diamonds and Golden Goddess, that we created and hold digital rights to, but the new products, ones that he gets excited about every day, including game engines that bring new types of bets, promotional features, as well as innovative types of gameplay. There’s also data tools and insights that High 5 has gained from more than five years leading the social casino space that we have not seen in RMG. We will be bringing these to market over the coming months.
This has led to High 5 Games becoming the industry’s largest independent casino games provider, developing content for the land-based, mobile, online and social markets. Our fast-expanding games portfolio is enjoyed by players across six continents and in more than 150 countries.
As Senior Director of Business Development, my focus is on building our RMG online games footprint in all markets. I work with Lauren Gazneli, Senior Manager, Client Partner, and together we operate from Gibraltar, Malta, UK, and New Jersey. On graduating from Cambridge University, I joined High 5 as an art director for one of their new game studios. I transitioned to Business Development, working first on B2B land and social.
What’s High 5’s ‘mission’?
For RMG, the goal is to bring out products that will dominate the market. Hits. On land, we experienced this with Golden Goddess and Da Vinci Diamonds, and they hit the same heights in the social casino world on Facebook as soon as that space opened up. We are putting in place the infrastructure and distribution globally to now deliver the next hit for our RMG operator partners.
What’s your elevator ‘pitch’ describing High 5 in this crowded igaming space?
Haven’t you heard? High 5 is Europe’s vast untapped pool of casino content. Both land-based hits, plus new games loved by 18 million slot players online. Partnering with us, you immediately get a robust pipeline, with exclusives, promotions, and content for new markets. Can you press the lobby button, please?
You’ve existed a fair while compared to many in our sector; what have been the key changes you’ve seen, and how have you had to change the company to react to this?
Slot players are slot players, whether they play in a casino, on Facebook, or online. They want to win. And they want to be entertained. They are incredibly loyal to that one game that has always been good to them, but they also want to also try something new from time-to-time. This has not changed.
In iGaming, we are still developing our reputation, but we come with 20 years’ experience of making hit slot after hit slot.
We see things that have worked on land, social, or in New Jersey, that we know will work for RMG online. Things we only see and know because of our extensive experience. Much of this is stuff behind the hood; data tools, bet types, promotions. We are also learning there are characteristics to online gaming we need to adjust to, mobile portrait mode play, for example, and then the smaller, nuanced things, like types of jokers in Finland, and the right seasonal themes. That’s why we have a team of more than 100 artists and developers, so we can react fast and nimbly to the market and localize our games.
What do you think makes High 5 different to others offering similar services?
We focus on giving real slot players a “ride” that keeps them coming back; proven math and polished art.
What is your approach that gives you the edge over your competitors?
Most game studios produce one-to-four games per month, usually repeating a style of play from the month before. With High 5, operators are effectively getting a pipeline of games from three studios; one for land-based hits, one for proven new features, and the third are fresh, innovative games that offer something different to players.
Which are the key partnerships you’ve recently agreed and what do they mean to High 5’s business plans?
The partnerships we can discuss are those we are live with: bet365, Kindred, GVC, Betsson, Leo Vegas, William Hill, Mr Green, and Rank. Over the next few months, you will be hearing much, much more, including direct integrations. The rollout really gets going by October.
As important to us as new operators are new markets. We are currently licensed in the UK, Gibraltar, Malta, Sweden and, over the next four months; Denmark, Spain, Portugal and Italy. There are markets like Latin America where our games are already well-known in the casinos and bingo halls. In one of the largest land casinos, Casino Buenos Aires, for example, 12% of the casino floor has our content. We are soon to announce two key partnerships in this region which we are particularly excited about.
You recently hit the 250 social casino slots mark. How hard/easy is it to keep the quality up when you have that many on offer?
You need to understand that we make slots for real slot players. Whether it is land, social or online is superfluous. A good game works wherever it is played and it is a key principle to High 5 that every game is the same, no matter which platform. All are based on real money math.
Keeping up quality is not an issue for us because our beginnings are in land games. The level of detail, polish and multitude of assets required is what our pipeline is built on. This continues, regardless of where the game goes.
Our focus is on refining the art and experience for players on mobile. We started this when mobile grew with social games and it has accelerated, I would say, 200% with our entry into the RMG online space. Simplifying our games is an art. The technical artists who convert the games are as creative as the animators and illustrators who made the original title. In fact, their work is more difficult – editing down to a small screen is much more challenging than upscaling art and animation to a slot cabinet 52 inches high.
What are your plans for the rest of 2019 and beyond?
We are in the middle-to-end of our first business development stage, i.e. we are setting up a wide network of distribution for all tier one and two operators and key markets. The commercials are done, we are now delivering on the integrations. Our land-based hits helped gain entry into the market and, starting in May, we roll out our new UI for mobile. Then the really new stuff – the stuff never seen in the market, is what is coming in the second half of the year. It is in-game innovation based on our own platform technology, predictive data and radical game designs that we been quietly developing in social which we believe will be unique for operators in online RMG.