A Conversation with Simon Hammon, Chief Product Officer at Relax Gaming
- Nov 04, 2020
- 8 min read
Simon Hammon, Chief Product Officer at Relax Gaming, chats with SlotsMate.com about the development process of a slot game, the most played Relax Gaming title on our website, the perks and downsides of being a long time on the gambling market, and more. Stick around to find out all the details!
Q: Hello Simon! We would like to start off by thanking you for accepting to have this interview with us. Can you please introduce yourself and tell us a few words about Relax Gaming?
Relax Gaming is a supplier of poker, bingo, casino, and aggregated content to online casinos all over the world, offering some of the best titles in the industry. We celebrated our 10th anniversary this year and have learned a thing or two about developing content that differentiates and quality gaming entertainment in our decade of experience.
What we do best is delivering great technical solutions to the market that enables our studios and partners to create exciting new games for players. As Chief Product Officer, my role within the Relax team is product delivery, which involves working closely with talented partners to bring content on the market and develop our own games via our multiple in-house studios, too.
Q: First of all, congratulations on your 10th anniversary! Now, what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of being an experienced software developer?
Relax prides itself on our technical excellence. In an industry that is ever-evolving, having a solid foundation is incredibly important, but so too is how you innovate and stay agile as your business grows.
One of the advantages of experience is that it allows you to learn from mistakes and get stronger over time. Yet it also means that however much you want to develop the “next big thing”, you cannot neglect the core foundations that got you where you are.
Q: Why “Relax Gaming”? What is the meaning of the name choice?
This question is better directed at the company’s founders, but it’s a strong name nonetheless. ‘Relax Gaming’ reflects what we are as a business: a facilitator and developer of entertainment to be enjoyed safely in your free time, but it is also a statement of intent to our partners. We want our clients to relax, and be safe in the knowledge that the systems, service, compliance, and products we offer are robust and trustworthy.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you have a special recipe for the games you develop?
Perhaps not as exciting as a special recipe, but it is more a case of experienced and passionate people who love slots. Naturally, over the years you pick up on what works and what does not, and that tends to shape your design principles.
We also take time to really listen to feedback from players and understand what they want. Inspiration can come from many places and often from different people within the company, but wherever it originates, even the smallest idea could be a seed of a great mechanical innovation or a theme that really stands out.
Q: In your own view, what are the most important qualities of slot games and video poker?
With so much choice available today, there are several key qualities of a slot game. We look at how easy it is to understand, whether there is clear potential, and the attractiveness of the theme and design.
Creating the perfect blend of game elements from the maths model and mechanics to the aesthetics might seem simple but it is often difficult to execute. The skill required to achieve this balance is what separates the best studios in the industry.
Q: “Money Train” is one of Relax Gaming’s most played games on our website. Can you give us a better understanding of this slot game’s development process?
Money Train is a great game, but I would say the sequel Money Train 2 is even better. Both slots underwent our usual process of design and prototyping, followed by development and testing, however, in the case of Money Train 2 we dedicated a significant amount of time to gathering player feedback on its predecessor, ensuring that every critique was improved upon and addressed in the sequel.
It is often in the prototype phase that you can understand or feel if a mechanic works. Money Train was a rare game. In over 100 productions that I have released over the years, this one was just so fun to play even with a placeholder graphic.
The mechanic keeps you feeling that a big win potential can hit at any time - because it truly can. Money Train 2 takes this to the next level, which is why it is our most popular slot release to date.
Q: Of all your games, which ones are your favorites? Why do they stick out?
I would have to say Temple Tumble. The slot was one of Relax Gaming's first releases and a premier network launch from our Swedish studio. As well as being a huge hit with players, it made a statement about our ambition in game design and the quality that we were able to bring to the market. For me, it stands out because it was a true passion project but also a very proud moment for all the teams involved.
Q: What do you think is going to be the recipe for a successful video slot in the near future? What trends do you see happening in iGaming over the next few years?
Slot development has changed dramatically in the last few years, largely due to competition but also because regulatory changes in certain markets have removed particular features. My predictions are that in the near future, the landscape will evolve equally as fast.
Currently, games with higher win potential are gaining mass popularity since they can be understood quickly. However, there is still so much room for improvement in the mobile sphere. Whilst mobile is now the game medium of choice, we’ve only just scratched the surface of the potential, particularly with optimizing customization to devices.
Q: Approximately 200 people work for Relax Gaming, so one can say you are a pretty big company. Can you give us a little background about your corporate culture?
We are now over 200, and still growing, rapidly in fact. Our culture has naturally evolved as the company has grown but fundamentally not too much has changed since the earlier days.
We encourage top talent to work for us, give freedom and independence for our employees to develop, and encourage creativity. The culture is built on being relaxed but also firmly rooted in ensuring high delivery and quality for our customers.
Q: We’re always excited for new games on the market. Do Relax Gaming fans have something to look forward to in 2021 and beyond?
We love trying new things and have some great ideas brewing for 2021. Relax is not about taking what we already have and pumping out 20 different versions; we want to push the boundaries, increase the excitement and bring fresh ideas that both challenge the market status quo and bring something new to the table. In terms of what lies ahead, you’ll have to wait and see!
Q: Lastly, are there any markets you’re fixing on right now? Are you looking to enter new markets in the near future?
Regulated markets are a natural part of a supplier's roadmap. As the ‘.com’ to ‘.regulated’ evolution continues, the effective market expansion is critical to growing the business. Relax Gaming’s presence extends across the world, but there are still key territories that we have not yet entered, leaving plenty of room for opportunity.
One of our core goals is for our games to be available in the industry’s biggest markets and with the largest online casino brands, so expect an announcement or two throughout 2021.
We had a lot of fun conducting this interview and we hope you enjoyed learning more about Relax Gaming as a brand, their game titles, and all of their awesome plans for the future. You can check out our Free Relax Gaming Slots for a chance to win big!