Reloads with New Software

27 June 2001
Software companies in the interactive gaming business have struggled for a while to compete with the likes of Boss Media, Microgaming, CryptoLogic and World Gaming (Starnet), but a small island off the coast of Venezuela is proving to be a good location for to do its best in giving the big four a run for their money.

Somewhat plagued by the backlash of a falling out with some of its licensees, has had its fair share of struggles in the past in making inroads in a tight and highly competitive market, but the company is excited about a new line of games it has recently released. They're hoping a unique approach to casino-style games will help supplant the company as a leading software provider.

The newly launched suite is focused on the communities that have arisen among frequent online players. Games are equipped with a "Dynamic Lobby System" that enables visitors to chat with one another while playing games and search for buddies online at the casino.

In addition to facilitating intra-site player interaction, is rolling out technology that will connect players with each other across the platform. More importantly, it will network jackpots into a progressive system.

Lena Takahashi, the company's manager of business development, says the ability to tie players together will only enhance the bottom line for operators.

"There is a trend towards greater interactivity among players, and we are continuing to develop products that foster competition and community among players and motivate them to return more often to a casino," she said. "If players are chatting with one another and grow a relationship with each other during their time at the casino they are going to spend more time playing there." is also banking on operators' ability to customize the games, a new feature introduced earlier this month at the Global Interactive Gaming Summit and Expo in Toronto. With the software, operators have the capability to package the single-player casino games or multiplayer poker into a completely customized downloadable system.

The Java-based system has a Flash interface, which, according to Takahashi, allows for quicker downloads, smaller file sizes and most importantly, cleaner-looking games.

"There is a growing demand from operators to differentiate their games from other casinos, so we provide unique game customization as the licensee requires," she added.

Among the new games developed with the Flash format are 5-Reel Slots with Bonus Round, Red Dog, Royal Rumble, Big Six, and 3-Reel Slots with a progressive jackpot component that can be networked across multiple sites.

The progressive games and player interactivity, says Takahashi, will be the big draw on the consumer side. "The payoffs can grow to a pretty large amount," she said. "And as soon as someone wins one, within minutes there is another one popping up since it is progressive. Operators then have the ability to market big payouts on a 24-hour basis."

She added, "The in-game chat will enhance the experience and build on the sense of an online community, which is essential to the success of any online business."

Originally based in Vancouver, the company is headquartered in Grenada and has found a great deal of success in relocating to a country that had just scratched the surface of gaming.

"Grenada has been a great location for our headquarters for a number of reasons," Takahashi said. "The government and local banks have been extremely helpful and supportive, and our government gaming license has enabled us to locate in a jurisdiction that is not overly populated with gaming operations."

Being one of a few gaming-related companies on the island has helped retain many native workers.

"Rather than having employees with a tendency to hop from one company to the next, we've been able to establish a stable, growing company with professional, educated employees who provide 24-hour accounting, customer service, and fraud control services," Takahashi said.

Maintaining a Caribbean base hasn't stopped and its partners from staying on the cutting edge of technology. The company is happy with the services provided by Cable & Wireless Grenada, which include a dedicated fiber connection and a service-level agreement that enables the company to offer what Takahashi termed "stable, high-bandwidth hosting services."

According to Takahashi, those who saw the demonstration of the new software in Toronto were impressed.

"All of our current licensees--and even some prospective ones that we showed it to--liked all the features that are built into the games," she said. "We have always prided ourselves on players not having to download our games. We have been able to continue that standard with quicker downloads and better games."

In the meantime will continue to forge on in its battle against bigger software companies, but Takahashi says her firm has a leg up on the competition.

"One key advantage is our ability to create a completely customized downloadable product that complements our leading Instant-Play system," she said, "while other companies that have traditionally focused on downloadable products are only now beginning to develop in Java and Flash."

Nobody knows where Kevin Smith came from. He simply showed up one day and started writing articles for IGN. We liked him, so we decided to keep him. We think you'll like him too. Kevin can be reached at