Recently appointed Chief Operating Officer for open source platform provider Takara Gaming Group, Albert Yu, discusses the company’s plans for expansion through Asia and Europe in 2018.
Inside Asian Gaming: Many people in the industry would know you from your years with Aruze. What attracted you to TGG and how did the opportunity to work with the company come about?
Albert Yu: I’ve known Raymond Chan, the CEO and co-founder, for a while. I always really liked TGG’s business model and how the company is bringing offline content to online and online content to offline utilizing its open-source platform.
We’re developing a lot of new ideas and products that casinos today are just not able to find. Our “Fish Hunter” game is an example of our work with Chinese games – any game you can play on mobile, with our platform you can bring to a land-based casino. It’s a whole new gaming segment TGG is helping to create.
IAG: And you’re also providing an opportunity for game designers to get their ideas out to the market?
AY: Yes. We are a very young company, a start-up basically. We have our in-house developers and programmers, our team, but that is not what we aim to do. We aim to bring in new gaming concepts from developers directly to the casino operators so that we’re just a bridge in between, because that will be the easiest method for everyone.
Operators are very eager to see new products, not just in Macau and Asia but also everywhere around the world. The number of slots players is decreasing and one of the reasons is that the current games are not entertaining. What we wanted to do was provide something new. We feel this will attract both operators and game developers.
These developers might not be in the land-based sector, they might just be into social gaming and they might not know how to get their content into land-based casinos, so TGG can provide that gateway.
IAG: Can you tell us a bit about your role at TGG?
AY: At the moment I’m focusing more on the downstream side of the business which is the casino side because that’s where I have more experience. I’m getting in touch with a lot of the casinos in Asia and Europe. Obviously I have some background in business development in Europe so I have been able to get in touch with a lot of casino operators there to explain our ideas.
Even during the three days we had at ICE this year we were received very well by European operators. Most of them said they’ve never heard of this open-source concept before. They seemed very excited to see our products.
In terms of game development at TGG, it’s very much a team effort. It’s not just me bringing a game to an operator and leaving it there. I will also go and talk to the game developers and make them more engaged either in a joint venture project or a co-development project. That will make them more involved.
We are offering a new strategy on the business development side that will allow them to seize the opportunity. Although they are very mature and educated in regards to mobile platforms they have less knowledge of what is going on in the land-based sector. We will educate them and we will bring them to our meetings with the operators so that they are in synch with how they should develop their products.
IAG: What sort of reaction have you had from operators that you’ve explained TGG’s open-source platform to for the first time?
AY: I’ve only been with the company for two or three months but I have traveled around Asia a little bit prior to ICE – primarily the Philippines, Malaysia and Macau. A lot of casinos have shown interest and we actually have some contracts on the table. In Europe we invited a number of operators to come and see us at ICE to learn what we’re doing face to face. It’s not just meeting with casinos only, I’ve also met with a couple of game developers from Europe who are very interested in bringing their content to land-based, so it’s bit of a chain reaction.
IAG: Where will TGG be focusing its energies in 2018?
AY: This year our focus is Asia – because we are a company from Hong Kong – and Europe. Europe is an area where we plan to expand very rapidly, very quickly and very aggressively. From 2019 onwards the US will be one of the major markets that we’re targeting along with other jurisdictions.
One thing I want to stress is that there are not many manufacturers, in terms of land-based slots, from China or Hong Kong. The big players obviously have a lot of game developers in their teams that are Chinese but there is not one brand that is Chinese-based or is from a Chinese background. We have a genuine interest in heading in that direction.
IAG: You see that as a significant advantage for TGG?
AY: Yeah for sure. Considering the economy of China, the population and the overwhelming interest in gaming, how come there isn’t one company that represents China? There should be one and we’re helping some of them try to become that one.
IAG: What sort of growth do you see TGG achieving in 2018?
AY: Well aside from focusing on Asia and Europe, we’re also just trying to bring our name out more to the market. To a lot of operators, TGG is not yet a household name. Nobody knows what we have done, but through press, through conferences, through exhibitions, through face to face meetings and all of that we have tried to bring more attention to what TGG is doing, how we can help game studios by providing a land-based casino sales channel and how we can help land-based casinos attract more customers. I think this is a very good business model.
IAG: Are people starting to recognize TGG more?
AY: Right now, other than spreading our brand through media, exhibitions and word of mouth, our main markets have been Cambodia, Korea, Singapore and we’re moving into Macau this year. We already have deployment in Mexico and South America. People will start to recognize there are some TGG products out on the casino floors and that will help in terms of floor presence. That will be very important for us, so we will be aggressively deploying our machines in Europe and Asia this year.
IAG: And in terms of Asia, Macau will be an important market long-term?
AY: Macau will be the center of our attention. Obviously the Philippines is on the rise and their casinos are doing well, Singapore is doing well, Malaysia has one IR but it is a dominant one in that sense. Korea has more casinos opening too but at the end of the day Macau is the most important market so we need to have a presence in Macau. It is not an easy market to get into but it will be well worth it for us to explain to the upstream or downstream that we have a presence in Macau.