Interview with a Vice President: Claire Osborne of Interactive Division at Inspired Entertainment
- Feb 11, 2021
- 12 min read
We’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Claire Osborne, the Vice President of Interactive division at Inspired Entertainment, in order to mark a great accomplishment for both SlotsMate and Inspired. Two equally awesome Inspired titles, Legend Of Triton and Super Fire 7s, are the 3rd and 4th most played games on our website.
Claire agreed on helping us honor this achievement by taking us on an inspiring journey about Inspired’s story as a successful global games technology company. We’ve touched on many compelling subjects that were delightfully related by Claire. Enjoy!
Q: Hello, Claire! Thank you for being so kind to answer our questions. Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and about Inspired Entertainment.
I’ve been with Inspired for a little over two years now. Before that, I cut my gaming teeth in 2004 at Rank, where I launched online Bingo and ended up heading up the Mecca Bingo online operations over in Gibraltar. I’m currently the Vice President of Interactive, heading up the Casino games area of the business.
Inspired is a global provider and developer of games content, technology, hardware and services for regulated gaming, betting, lottery, social, online, and leisure operators around the world.
We operate in approximately 35 jurisdictions worldwide and supply gaming systems with associated terminals and games for more than 50,000 gaming machines located in betting shops, pubs, gaming halls and other route operations.
Inspired provides virtual sports products through more than 44,000 retail channels and a variety of amusement entertainment solutions with a total installed base of more than 19,000 devices. We are the world leader in Virtual Sports products with a multi-award-winning range of sports in retail venues and online in many markets worldwide.
We also develop and provide high-quality interactive gaming content for the global online and mobile casino industry. That’s where I come in as the Vice President of Inspired’s Interactive division. I am responsible for leading the strategic efforts of Inspired’s growing, international online and mobile games division.
I manage a team of extremely talented and energetic account managers to ensure we deliver a games portfolio that is innovative, graphic-rich, robust, socially responsible, and highly entertaining. As a team, we work hard not only to meet our customers’ expectations but to surpass their players’ requirements.
As part of the Inspired management team, I work closely with the various department heads across the organization to keep our growth initiatives fully aligned to the strategic vision of the company. Our mission is to deliver, without compromise, the most compelling games to players and customers.
Q: Why “Inspired Entertainment”? Does the name choice have a meaning behind it?
Inspired has been inspiring players for more than fifteen years. We provide entertainment that ignites joy and fun while arousing the senses. Our games incorporate vibrant and graphic-rich visuals in addition to musical soundtracks that emphasize the game’s theme. Our games boast robust game mechanics in addition to industry-leading gameplay features to deliver a socially responsible and fun gaming experience throughout.
Q: In your own point of view, what qualities do you think a slot game should have in order to be a successful one?
From my perspective, the key is to put the player first and think about what they are looking for in a game. Clearly, this can be different based on their locations or preferences of the customer, but usually, we can find common ground in certain markets or according to the route the customers are acquired through.
The general qualities a slot game needs in order to be successful include: a fun and engaging gameplay mechanic that works seamlessly with popular and tested features; a theme and rich graphics that appeal to players; and a fair return-to-player rate (RTP) that rewards players regularly so they can extend their gameplay to an enjoyable and a socially responsible length of time.
More recently we have steered away from super high volatile games that reward just the top players; instead, we have put the wins in the lower levels, so there is more fun for everyone.
Q: You have 6 offices around the world. Can you give us a little background about your corporate culture?
As a vibrant and growing international organization, we have six offices worldwide spread across North America, Europe, and Asia. Our people are made up of exceptionally talented individuals from an array of backgrounds and ethnicities who, like many, have had to struggle through a tough year but have always given everything they can to help us succeed.
We celebrate our differences and see our diversity as a unique selling point, reflecting our games’ growing international player base. Our shared drive to succeed and the ability to support each other are two of the many things that make me proud to work for Inspired.
While our mission is to deliver the most compelling games to our customers and in turn their players, we see our success as being wholly dependent on our dedication to upholding our values. Preserving our culture is therefore very important to us.
We see our people as the reason for our success and as department Heads, we do our utmost to provide opportunities for growth and professional development. Our focus is and always will be to provide products that meet our customers’ needs and surpass expectations.
We endeavor to always make decisions based on facts, data, and intelligence. In addition to making sure that we always act with integrity, we encourage staff to be bold and ambitious and not be afraid to challenge conventions.
Q: When it comes to slot games, what trends do you see happening in iGaming in the near future?
It’s a very exciting time to be part of this industry. iGaming is growing at an incredible pace, with so many organizations making investments across all levels. We’re competing to provide the most compelling and engaging gaming experience to an array of player demographics, in a wide range of markets, whose needs are evolving in line with the socio-economic landscape.
I believe larger operators will move into 2021 aiming for fewer games but of higher quality, so strong content and good account management are going to be more important than ever.
Regulations are at the fabric of our industry, to make the experience of gambling one that is fun and socially responsible for all its players. It is vital that the industry be accountable for protecting players, and regulators are naturally looking at new policies to protect the vulnerable.
I see more regulations being put in place within the well-established, mature jurisdictions, and the creation of regulatory structures throughout the newer markets in North America, Asia, Latam, and Africa. With this, we will see more regulated markets opening up which is very exciting for Inspired, as our growth options are increasing all the time.
We’ll see more emphasis on using intelligence and player data for smarter player acquisition and retention strategies. Understanding player behaviors and their engagement levels through data science will allow us to create a personalized experience that is both socially responsible and tailored to optimize player engagement levels.
Artificial intelligence coupled with innovative machine learning techniques, I believe, will become integral and at the forefront of decision making.
As the pandemic wrought havoc with retail gaming across many parts of the world, online and mobile gaming has become more prevalent than ever. We’ve seen a lot of adaptation in the marketplace as our interactive customers gained players.
We saw the importance of being an omni-channel provider, and this will only intensify in 2021. It will be even more important for retail customers to make players’ favorite games available online as well.
I see more consolidation coming within the industry, as companies want footholds in new markets and/or to leverage size and scale. Inspired, acquired Astra and Bell-Fruit in 2019 to complement our existing portfolio of highly popular, new, and legacy titles.
Finally, I see North America as a big growth area for online verticals and thus a focus area for both operators and suppliers. Whilst iGaming is legal in only a handful of American states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, and most recently Michigan, iGaming grossed around $1 billion USD in revenue in the US.
With single event betting open for business and regulatory momentum building up, Canada’s iGaming future looks bright as well. I see huge growth potential across the North American market as more states regulate.
Q: As a creator, where do you get your inspiration from? Do you follow a certain creation process regarding your games?
We listen to our customers and look at trends, but the aim is simply to create games that people want to play. Steve Collett, our talented Chief Product Officer, heads up our game development across retail and online.
As players ourselves, we want to make sure we have the most engaging and fun games for players to play however they interact with our games. Developing games is a collaborative process that involves several people developing ideas and the addition of the Astra and Bell Fruit games teams has brought a new diversity to our creativity.
Our rigorous development process is not unlike others’ and tends to include seven stages: planning, pre-production, production, testing, pre-launch, launch, and post-production. What makes us different is our people and our approach to letting everyone be involved in ideation, whether or not they are games designer. People care about the games they are building.
Q: You recently launched Stacked Valentine Hearts, a Valentine’s Day-themed slot game. What can you tell us about the game?
Stacked Valentine Hearts is part of a key strategy of ours to provide operators with games they can feature on their sites for a specific time each year. It’s a 5x4 reel, 40-line slot game, offering players an entertaining iGaming experience featuring wilds, mega bonuses, and huge potential wins. It’s a vibrant and cheerful game set to uplift people’s spirits and get them in the mood for love.
Emulating the gameplay of Gold Cash Free Spins™, one of our most popular and highest-performing games of 2020 across all markets, this game delivers bags of enjoyment and rewards. It has a straight-forward and seamless interface, featuring a Free Spins bonus round.
Players who enter are awarded eight Free Spins featuring the four highest paying symbols: Wild, double red hearts, double purple hearts, and the double orange iridescent hearts struck with Cupid’s arrow.
Stacked Valentine Hearts has a return to player (RTP) rate of 95%, offering players a good chance of big bonuses and big cash prizes.
Q: You must have a favorite game (or more) among all the Inspired Gaming titles. If yes, what makes them stand out?
That’s a tough question to answer. It’s always very easy to love your most recent game the most and Vegas Cash Spins is no exception. As a player, I like simple games that easily show me where I can get my wins, and Vegas Cash Spins does exactly that. It’s a low volatility game that rewards players regularly but can still pay out at 1000x -- and who doesn’t love a good wheel-based bonus!
I will always have a soft spot for Reel King Megaways and Centurion Megaways; for me, they marketed the turning point in Inspired’s rise from a retail games developer to a well-known online games supplier.
We were already well on our way with our strategy of building more, better games but it was these two games that really announced our arrival. I couldn’t be prouder of the teams who came together to build them, especially when I look at what they have achieved since.
Q: There’s no doubt that your fans are always looking forward to new Inspired Gaming titles. Do you plan on releasing new games this year?
Yes, we have a full roadmap for 2021 that is gleaming with amazing titles. I think everyone is most excited about Cops n Robbers Megaways launching globally in April. This game is set to be extremely popular with players boasting classic Megaways mechanics, plus a few surprises – so watch this space!
Q: Are there other new markets you plan on entering this year?
Yes, this year we plan to enter many new markets including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colombia, Romania, and the Netherlands, and we will always look at new markets to add to this list as they become regulated and viable for us. We look forward to exciting times ahead for Inspired.
Hopefully, you enjoyed learning more about Inspired Entertainment and its awesome games. Now, all that’s left to do is try out some of their titles here at SlotsMate.com by checking out our Free Inspired Slots page. Good luck!