Igaming app and digital user experience provider, mkodo, has been among the most industrious entrants to the rapidly growing North American gaming business in recent times. It’s a multi-jurisdictional market that offers challenges and opportunities in equal measure.
Will Whitehead, Commercial Director at mkodo, recently shared his thoughts on the company’s activities in North America, reflecting on a hugely positive 2021 and hinting at the possibilities ahead for the second half of 2022.
The biggest topic on the 2021 agenda, said Whitehead, was the continued opening up and developments in the emerging US market, with most European operators and suppliers currently exploring opportunities across the pond.
“For us at mkodo, our focus is on how we can create digital user experiences for operators, particularly iOS and Android apps, that are perfectly tailored to the local audiences. From a tech point of view, the US doesn’t differ from Europe as mobile penetration and network connection rates are high.”
Addressing the current state of play for mkodo and developments the firm has been working on, he confirmed that it continues to collaborate with leading igaming operators including The Rank Group’s Grosvenor Casino and Mecca Bingo brands, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC) and British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC).
Not only that, mkodo is continuing to promote and develop its bespoke suite of products including its geolocation platform, GeoLocs, which has been in production for over 10 years and is built purposely for the igaming industry.
Growth is not without its challenges, as Whitehead explained. “We’ve been busy building new networks and spreading the name and brand of mkodo while having to develop custom content for different operators in different jurisdictions. But we’ve been supplying Canadian operators with apps and websites for over 10 years, so we have great experience in dealing with these challenges.”
Gambling, said Whitehead, has traditionally been more experiential in the US, with many having visited a land-based casino where the entertainment factor is high, and the social aspect plays an important role.
“To ensure that players feel at home online, their journey needs to replicate that feel – and that’s where a good and tailored front-end comes in, to ensure products better appeal to local players. This is not a difficult task if you engage with a supplier that understands the importance of front-end experiences and focuses on areas such as UX and UI, functional user journeys and the entertainment factor, differentiating against the competition with best-of-breed software, functionality, and accessibility.”
And when it comes to developing a front-end for a market like the US, he believes location is a key consideration. “It’s a case of different experiences for different jurisdictions and different regulations. Don’t just focus on good (casino) game content and sportsbook data/odds/markets. Focus on the UX and the UI. Remove barriers to key user journeys including registration, login, deposit, gameplay, placing of bets, and claiming winnings.
Whitehead was also keen to stress the importance of differentiating the user experience among different user groups in order to stand out from the crowd in the US. “Vary experiences to different user groups such as VIPs versus novices, big spenders versus casual punters, and older generation versus newer generation,” he advised.
“For example, one app could cater to the VIP player who is less invested in the front-end experience and just wants the best odds and great performance, while another app would be for the casual player who wants to have fun with the most popular sports and events easily available. As many US customers will be complete beginners, this should also be considered, and any digital product should be easy to use and comprehend.”
Whitehead also believes that the sector is still some way behind other industries in fully optimizing the user experience. We asked him what the industry might look to do to narrow that gap and utilize available technology more effectively.
He responded: “Other ecommerce companies understand their customers’ behavior and analytics much better than our industry and push relevant content to the consumer based on what that consumer likes.
“Our industry still provides the same experience for every single user. We should invest more in understanding the consumer and then alter the experience per user based on that feedback. Other products and industries also invest more in UX rather than just the content. For example, Spotify doesn’t just rely on music, it makes sure its app is easy to use and interact with.
Offering a tentative outlook for the remainder of 2022, Whitehead concluded: “The US is set to be extremely competitive with many operators entering the fray and that will bring innovation, which will help the industry evolve even further and improve the products we can offer customers. This is something which we at mkodo look forward to being a part of, this year and beyond.”