TGG co-founder Raymond Chan discusses his company’s recent move into Korea and why he believes this market can play a vital role in the future of Asian gaming.
By Raymond Chan
In early September, TGG announced the signing of a gaming machine operation agreement with Futro Group at Majestar Casino – the biggest Korean casino in Jeju – which provides us with a unique opportunity to participate in the Korean gaming market. Why has TGG chosen Korea as a major focus when there are so many major markets in Asia and around the world? There are three key reasons.
The first is so TGG has significant representation in Korea in order to attract major game designers and increase their awareness of this growing market. Korea is without doubt one of the most creative countries in the world which is why it is so important for us to have that local representation.
We also see this as a golden opportunity for us to get a head start in terms of involvement in this very important Asian market. Much like Japan, Korea is going to be one of Asia’s biggest and most important gaming markets so taking these first steps is a huge milestone for our company.
Third, Korea is widely known as a highly-regulated market so by having representation it shows the world that TGG is a serious player in the gaming platform market. We are not joking around. TGG is a pioneer in the gaming industry. Our omni-channel platform, HIRO, provides game developers and gaming operators with the freedom and flexibility to build games specifically suited to the needs of an individual operator while also meeting global regulation requirements at a fraction of the time and cost. It fits in perfectly with the needs of a market as unique and dynamic as Korea, much like Japan.
Of course, as much as I see similarities between Korea and Japan and I also recognize their differences. They are both very, very creative countries but Korea is quite unique in terms of the games its people like to play. Japanese players like comic-style games with lots of story lines inside. Korean players are more straight forward in what they want from their games – they are more results oriented and want hard core entertainment value compared to the Japanese who are more into the small details that come together to create the whole product.
We are the first open platform that allows anyone in the world to create games for the casino gaming industry and for machine play. Now that we are in Korea, we are opening up another market for global game developers to try out different ideas. Even though the Korean market is primarily targeted at tourists with only one casino – Kangwon Land – allowing locals to play, for TGG to have a presence in that market is vital to our long-term strategy.
Remember too that even though Korean players can’t gamble in most of their own casinos, they travel to casinos around the world and of course the best place to learn exactly what those players are looking for is in Korea itself. By participating in the local market we can go and check out the products of local manufacturers and find out what appeals.
We can also provide local manufacturers and designers with data that we have collected elsewhere. We have a lot of data that a traditional manufacturer may not otherwise have access to. We have an open platform so we have data coming in from different games. We collect this information and mine the data to learn about how different players are interacting with different games. This is something you need for an open platform and it’s one of TGG’s great strengths.
The timing is also perfect for us to be involved with Korea with Paradise City having recently opened the country’s first integrated resort and two more IRs scheduled to open in 2020.
The casino gaming market is not like internet gambling where you can have a website up in 24 hours to deploy. It takes months and months of preparation, so seeing these new opportunities approaching in Korea in the next few years – combined with what’s happening in Japan right next door – makes it the perfect time to get started.
New operations also tend to be more willing to try new things to make themselves standout from the competition. Of course, these operators will be very keen to attract new customers. Tourists, for example, have so many destination options in Asia to choose from so the only way to lure them your way is to try new things – to try an open platform concept with full control of the content on offer.
Casino operators are best placed to know what their customer like and we offer an opportunity to provide that. They will find our product extremely useful in that regard to stand out from the crowd and to grow the pie.
The Korean market is a fascinating one. Players love games that combine slots and poker, for example, even though there is no money involved. I have seen games centers like this completely full in Korea. That’s why we don’t rely on only two or three major game developers, we look to the local developers and local people to tell us what games we will offer.
Korea is a huge step in TGG’s evolution. Everyone knows Korea and everyone knows it’s a highly regulated market. They therefore know that only serious players are willing to be part of it.
I have no doubt that Korea ranks among the top three Asian gaming markets so it is a major milestone for TGG to be involved.