Innovation : Elements

By Dennis R. Debios, cIO, IGW software

Having flawless communications with ecommerce providers is essential for operating in the interactive gaming industry. Unfortunately, ecommerce methodologies are as varied as varied as the providers are. Credit cards, EFT, aCH, prepaid, and wire transfers are but a few of the deposit methods available to the poker player . Along with the variability in types   comes variability in methodologies, protocols, fields, and encryption mechanisms. As it is necessary to offer many convenient methods for deposit and withdrawal, the associated complexities cost operators significantly in time and resource. If these complexities could be quantified and addressed, the operator could reduce cost and time to market in ecommerce provider implementation.

Difficulties in Ecommerce Integration

There is no standard used by the ecommerce providers for field types. Whenever an operator establishes a new ecommerce provider, they must decipher the different fields and data types. Whereas one provider may use “User ID” for its nomenclature, another may use “login ”. Further, one may require a minimum of eight numbers whereas another may require a 10 character alphanumeric field. Additionally, providers have their own transaction result messages. The method each provider uses to handle confirmations and errors can dramatically vary.

      Submitting a transaction to a provider can also be a challenge. The differences continue as one provider may require the transaction to be in the form of a comma delimited ASCIL stream while another may need an XML data stream. The order in which the data is presented is different from provider to provider. Some use the licensee account number to appear first in the transaction data stream while another requires that information to be the last field transmitted in the transaction. Operators can be stuck with implementing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that are over 100 pages long of extremely complex code.

      Encryption and communication with each provider differs. The communication from each provider can fluctuate from older technologies such as Communication objects to the newer technology of web services. Moreover, the schemes used to provide encryption could range from the complex to the very simple. Some providers use a simple HTTP Post encrypted using SSI, while other provider can use complex asymmetric PKI systems where a public / private key is exchanged with the operator.

      It is a formidable technological task to align all of the necessary components to make one ecommerce provider available to the system and the player. Typically, the software provider, based upon a static configuration, performs configuration and integration of the new ecommerce account. Further, altering parameters such as the minimum/ maximum amounts allowed, fees for use, and other configuration items normally requires the involvement of the software team.
A Flexible Alternative

Having a rich history in the evolution of online payments as an online payments as an online gaming software provider since 1996, IGW is in the process of introducing Elements, a flexible gaming platform. The key to Element:   is in the core design of the product. Written in c # utilizing a   Net platform with a Microsoft SQL. Server Enterprise database, Elements is designed around the player and a single wallet. The single wallet concept is not new, but the method of its implementation is revolutionary. By isolating the player and his wallet to a core application in the. Net framework, modules can be easily created, giving equal access to the player’s wallet. By standardizing APIs and leveraging connectivity tools like web services, virtually any application can be rapidly integrated into the Elements platform.

      The modular design of Elements extends to the ecommerce module. The Elements design team created a library of templates for the most popular ecommerce providers. Each template takes into account the unique nature of each ecommerce provider and requests all necessary data to establish a new ewallet or otherwise for player access. Once all of the information is complete, the specific configuration becomes a Named Provider.
      Named Providers are unique information sets including an ecommerce provider, a specific account, and other parameters such as currency - type and deposit / withdrawal limits. Each Named Provider may be made available to a single property, all properties, specific demographics, by region or by currency.
      Based upon how complex and global the operator, there are typically many Named Providers for each ecommerce provider. Each named provider may be attached to a different ecommerce account at the same ecommerce provider, may service a different currency, or may be configured for different withdrawal limits to service different currency, or may be configured for different withdrawal limit to service different demographics or different sites.
      The granularity of control using the Elements ecommerce solution is unlimited based upon the matrix of choice in creating a Named Provider. By maintaining  a library of popular ecommerce provider templates and accessing the template library, the proves of adding an ecommerce provider to the Elements system is simple and quick.

IGW Software

Netherlands Antilles based IGW Software. N.V. has been a leading developer of proprietary software for online among operators since 1996. IGW has developed innovative applications specifically designed to quickly and securely launch Internet-based sportsbooks, racebook and casinos. IGW specializes in delivering comprehensive yet flexible systems that are easy to operate and highly secure IGW is focused on software development and enters into long-term relationships with its customers priding itself on world-class customer service. IGW Software ( will launch Elements, the new flexible software solution at ICE 2006.

Multi-platform Game development: Challenges and Considerations

Bespoke games needed for different platforms

A few years ago game development for internet customers was straightforward. A developer would write an application, probably in Visual C++ and targeting Microsoft Windows, and make it available for customers to download from a web site or, perhaps, distribute  it on a giveaway CD. There were very few cross-platform worries, because there weren’t really any other mainstream platforms which had to be considered at that time.
      Recent years, however, have seen a rapid increase in the number of platforms on which the consumer might play games. We still have the option of developing downloadable executables for PCs, but we also have PC – and Mac – based browsers running a variety of game-enabling plug-in such as Flash and Java, mobile devices such as cell phones and XDA running a variety of markup browsers and also providing their own APIs, and set-top boxes for cable and satellite TV, again with a variety of browser –like and native interfaces.
      Consumers have enthusiastically embraced the proliferation of devices. Many will have a PC at work and at home, one or more cell phones or XDAs and a set-top box or two. There is, increasingly, an expectation that applications should be equally accessible from all of these platforms.

      Furthermore, we are seeing that there is increasing pressure on game suppliers to continually produce new games to meet consumers expectations for new innovative content.
      Rather than simply making an application available on a given platform, customers expect that each application uses the specific capabilities of that platform to give the best possible experience . Games suppliers have raised the quality bar very high recently. It’s not acceptable to move games from one platform to another by just removing bits that don’t work, and trying to shoehorn a user interface that was designed for one environment into an entirely different one. Often, a complete rewrite of the presentation layer to take advantage of the differing capabilities of a new target platform is needed.
      This places a large strain on a games developer – not only does it have to be continually devising and developing new game content, but it also have to track the ever-increasing number of platforms and feature sets. The wide variety in platform features and the lack of maturity of some of these platforms (despite notionally adhering to standards, they   often diverge considerably in functionality and robustness at the margins), along with he need to work with huge differences in processing power and available memory footprint, are the enemies of high quality and timely game delivery.

      So how is a game supplier supposed to cope  with the unholy combination of platform proliferation and continual development of new games?  We have yet to see any of the so-called cross-platform development toolkits able to deliver anything like what their marketing promises. In games, we believe that it is the platform-specific adaptations, which make the game noteworthy on each platform. In a world awash with fruit machines and card games, it is the ability to use the latest graphic and multimedia features and functions on each platform that differentiates games from those of the competitors.
      So, what is the solution to cross-platform games development?  We believe that a twofold approach is needed.

      First, the game’s application logic must be cleanly separated from its content presentation. The interface between the two must be open and documented. If the game developer wants to deploy the game onto another party’s back-end database, then they will also need to separate the game’s state storage interface too. By separating the logic from the presentation, the game developer will be able to free its game play logic from the minefield of platform-related content display issues. This division of application components into separate modules, communicating via a well-defined interface is a standard software development technique, and will be familiar to many readers. Although it might seem to initially make development more complex, in fact exactly the reverse is true because it allows different teams to tackle the different modules without getting in each others way.

      Secondly, the game’s content developer must know its platform-related limitations. While being an expert game content creation on one platform, it is highly unlikely to be an expert on all of the target platforms. However, real in - depth expertise is needed to create the most engaging consumer experience on each platform. By separating content from logic through a documented interface, a game’s creator enables selected third parties, who are experts on specific platforms, to develop the content for each platform. Even the most cursory survey of the numerous mobile and set top box platforms should convince the reader of the wisdom of this approach.
      At Orbis we have found in our development of games that it pays huge dividends separately to the game’s end-user content, and to be able to use the services of experts on each of the more esoteric platforms. We value our flexibility in being able to choose content development partners, rather than having to become in-house experts on numerous (and rapidly changing) mobile and set top box platforms available today.
      Orbis has successfully deployed numerous games on multiple platforms using this approach: to web browsers using Flash and Java developed in-house development team, and to mobile devices using an expert third-party contractor.

AUTHOR PROFILE:   DAVID LOVEDAY joined Orbis, pioneer in the design and development of online gambling systems, in 2002 and was appointed Managing Director in January 2004. Prior to this David worked with a number of well known software companies, Sun, Sybase and Informix and latterly was managing director of Kana Software. Whilst at Kana, David founded the European operation and grew the business turnover and customer base.

How will the UK Poker markets shape up over the next 12 months?

Headlines in the media such as “poker is the new gambling sensation ” and “Over a million dollaras are staked on poker cites every minute,”  are typical of the surrounding the poker industry in the past year. A hype that will burst?  Well, no, not really!  Although some industry experts may have differing  views, most agree that the poker business will continue growing at a steady pace.
      However if 2005 was anything to go by, then 2006 will be an even more turbulent year for operators. In the past 12 months   we have seen a lot of movement in the poker space, from mega floatation’s such as PartyGaming on the London stock market, to mergers, take-over and buy-outs.
      In 2006, we should expect to see more of the same as the poker industry consolidates its position with further M & As and a number of IPOs being planned. One thing would appear to be certain;  it is proving increasingly difficult for new companies to enter the market particularly from a start up position. It is going to be tough without leveraging the liquidity from an existing network provider unless brands are prepared to throw  a load of money at getting established, and even then there are no guarantees. Yet, we will see a number of new entrants doing exactly that. SkyBet, amongst others, have announced that they will launch a stand-alone poker platform in 2006, built by Orbis. All eyes will be on them to see how well they will succeed in building liquidity. Unfortunately most of the newcomers will fail, if they do not create adequate critical mass.