In his Casual Connect Tel Aviv lecture, Rami Segal explained the appeal of licensed content in the social casino world with an example from LEGO, which Brand Finance listed as the world’s most powerful brand in 2015. “One of the factors that Brand Finance found that made LEGO No. 1 in the world is actually licensed content,” Rami said. “So instead of having generic city LEGO, fire LEGO, police LEGO, they have actually used in the latest years branded themes.” Watch his full session in the video below for more of Rami’s predictions on licensing in the social casino niche.
When Rami Segal was a kid, he wanted to be a sea captain. As an adult, he is at the helm of Scientific Games’ Tel Aviv branch — sailing the high seas of casino gaming with the rest of the crew.
As the company’s general manager in Israel he runs day-to-day operations — from HR and finance to IT and business development with companies such as Facebook and Google. In addition, he holds the executive producer position for all Tel Aviv-developed apps — running several R&D teams, defining new features, coordinating efforts between different departments, and being responsible for the company’s product roadmap and delivery process.
On top of all this he also manages the relationship with Scientific Games headquarters in the United States, participating in strategic decision-making related to future plans.
Growth and Expansion
Rami got his start in the gambling-tech industry back in 2005 as part of a startup called Spin3, the first ever real-money casino studio for mobile. Eventually, due to private investors, Spin3 became the mobile casino arm of Microgaming — one of the world’s foremost gaming software developers with products including casino, multiplayer, sportsbook and more. When smartphones hit the market, they made sure to roll with the times and adapted their technology to support Android, iOS and eventually began developing casino games in HTML5.
After Microgaming Rami moved to Playtech, where he was part of a group developing the mobile extension of various casino games before he met Dragonplay founder Sharon Tal in 2012. Sharon offered him a spot at the company as vice president of product.
In 2014, Dragonplay was acquired by Bally Technologies — a moment that Rami calls one of the greatest moments of his career, saying that the company had worked hard and grown the business amid fierce competition before managing to close the deal on the acquisition.
Afterward, Bally Technologies itself was acquired by Scientific Games, which put Rami in his current position overseeing Tel Aviv operations.
The Importance of a Crew
Like any good captain, Rami knows the importance of colleagues and crew. “Great people are the fundamental asset of any successful organization,” he says. “Our success is guided by our values: Deliver what we promise, value integrity and commitment, and be open-minded to possibilities.”
He notes that Scientific Games develops talent by providing sufficient resources, rewards and encouragement for learning and career development, saying it is a joy to help people grow, develop, be creative and work with new ideas. He finds inspiration in those who create something new that makes a difference in the lives of others, and he loves managing and mentoring people to help them develop to their full potential.
That’s not to say that everything is smooth sailing, but he finds enjoyment in tackling the challenges that come with unexpected issues that arise day in and day out.
Challenges of Change
One of the biggest challenges Rami has had to tackle during his time in the games industry was during the Scientific Games acquisition when everyone had to adapt to a new corporate culture. “Becoming part of a leading public company requires mental and procedural change across all levels,” he says. “This usually makes people nervous — finding it hard to understand the new reality.”
Rami says that he and others invested a lot of time in discussion with Scientific Games executive management in order to integrate their studio successfully with the business. He notes that it couldn’t have happened without Scientific Games’ support and faith in Rami and his colleagues to produce quality apps and adopt new technologies and ways of thinking.
The ability of the games industry to bring together new technologies and ideas and create new worlds was one of the things that drew Rami to game development in the first place. “It’s like painting, when you start with a blank canvas and then let your imagination fly.”
Challenges, however, are what have allowed him to truly advance throughout his career. He says that every time you challenge yourself and do something you weren’t sure you could do, it gives you the self-confidence needed to step to the next level.
He suggests that others looking to follow a similar career path not be afraid to take risks and — most importantly — always learn. “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.”
Just Over the Horizon
While gaming’s seas are constantly changing, Rami believes that the Oculus Rift and virtual reality is going to make a big impact on the industry — including in the casino gaming sector. For instance, he sees the rush elements of slot games, such as sound effects and lighting changes, being taken to the extreme with the intensity and immersion that VR offers.
More importantly though, he believes that social casino games need to evolve to add skill-based elements to make them more interesting for younger audiences. He notes that casino revenue has fallen from a peak of nearly $12.9 billion in 2007 to about $11 billion in 2014 — with slot proceeds alone plunging 20 percent.
The industry, he says, is betting that younger gamers want to do more than press a button and watch reels spin. Rather, they want skill-based games like the popular titles on their smartphones and consoles. “The first ones to embed Candy Crush style elements, simple strategy and puzzle games in slots bonus games are going to win the younger audience.”