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Backgammon is Back

Orbis uses Flash to raise the bar in the Online Backgammon Market

ORBIS has launched a premium Online Backgammon offering in response to the increase in popularity of the game.

      Orbis Backgammon is the first of many Open Bet Players Games.  OpenBet Players is Orbis’ multiplayer games product which will initially host backgammon and poker before expanding into other game types.  Its unique user interface enables the most realistic game play to date.  A variety of tournaments are available, including scheduled, sit and play or next available person.  Orbis claims it is the fastest product in the market for the end users, with non-download Flash application Backgammon’s recent increase in popularity has raised many questions.  Why have operators like Orbis chosen to offer backgammon?  Who does it appeal to in terms of existing and new players and how does it run alongside poker or other game offerings?  Is backgammon the next poker?
      This is an issue that many operators and suppliers alike are debating.  But although the two have some similarities, they are not the same in many respects.  Looking at their history, backgammon has been around a lot longer than poker.  It has its origins in the Persian empire and its existence has been traced back to thousands of years BC.
      Today, it is played all over the world.  It is hugely popular in places such as Greece, Turkey and Scandinavia and the online market provides further expansion opportunities.  For example, backgammon’s similarities with poker as a community-based game will have great appeal in the UK market and will position it as an international  game rather than a predominantly US game.  Multiplayer games offerings will also expand; backgammon is just one of many games that will suit this format.

“Backgammon’s recent increase in popularity has raised many questions.
Why have operators like Orbis chosen to offer backgammon?  Whodoes  it appeal to in terms of existing and new players and how does it run alongside poker or other game offerings?  Is backgammon the next poker?”

      The game really comes into its own as a gaming application because of features such as Doubling Dice.  These dice allow players to raise each other (as in poker), depending  on the state of the board.  In practice,  this allows a game with an initial stake of £ 1 to change into a £ 64 game.  This is very attractive to online gamers and Orbis believes that customers will take to the ease of play that Orbis Backgammon offers in the same manner they have taken to poker.

      An Orbis spokesperson told InterGaming: “ Our user interface for backgammon is completely unique and features amazing graphics, lucrative tournaments and ease of use.  It is such a flexible system that a complete beginner can be up and running in virtually no time.

“As with all of our casino products, our gaming engine uses the Orbis Reality Engine, enabling the dice to roll more realistically than any other backgammon product in the market place.  The user interface also uses a unique ‘ghost system’ that enables players to see exactly where their next move can be played”

      “At the same time, for skilled players with high expectations and demands, the user interface allows much faster game play than the standard you find in the market place at the moment.  This is due to the fact that unlike most popular online backgammon games, ours runs on Flash and requires no downloads.
      “Furthermore, we have extremely proactive in regards to protection against players who can theoretically employ mathematical strategies for winning.  Orbis Backgammon uses highly developed game play analysis tools to look at scoring and pattern matching, as well as player ranking to ensure players of the same level are matched together.
      “It is really important to offer a choice of gaming options and to allow players of similar levels to be identified and matched quickly.  Game play is again heightened by extremely realistic board graphics, a clean player console and dynamic sound effects that bring the product to life.

      “As with all of our casino products, our gaming engine uses the Orbis Reality Engine, enabling the dice to roll more realistically than any other backgammon product in the market place.  The user interface also uses a unique ‘ghost system’ that enables players to see exactly where their next move can be played.  A one-click dice overlay allows players to instantly make their best move with one or two stones simultaneously.
      “These features, coupled with our unique user interface, differentiate Orbis’ backgammon from other offerings.  We are confident that Orbis Backgammon from other offerings.  We are confident that Orbis Backgammon, with its flexibility, ease-of-use and dynamic game play, will raise the bar for the online backgammon market.  It will draw in new players to the game and give existing players a more sophisticated and exciting playing poker experience


Question and Answers

Luke Alvarez …co-CEO…Inspired Broadcast Networks

IGG: Inspired traditionally designs, builds and operates digital terminals.  Why enter the casino market?
LA:  Inspired’s core focus is the development and operation of platform software for open server-based gaming.  We lead the world in the deployment of this technology, with over 30,000 terminals on our SBG network in five countries, across LBO/OTB, VLT/FOBT, street gaming slots, skill gaming and bingo.  Our SBG terminals have doubled incomes in every sector that we have entered, as a result of the flexibility and speed of innovation of the server based downloadable platform – the ability to add new games, change stake and prize and analyze data in real time remotely.  Casinos are a natural extension to our product range, and we are already proving in live rollout that SBG has a powerful effect on casino gaming incomes.

IGG: You’ve also decided to set up a dedicated casino division.  What motivated this decision?
LA:  The casino market represents a significant growth opportunity for Inspired, and our core competences in gaming products and SBG software are a perfect fit.

IGG: The next big thing for Inspired is server-based gaming.  Why have you decided to move into this area?
LA:  SBG has always been Inspired’s core focus.  The company is named Inspired Broadcast Networks because our core focus is using broadband networks to broadcast or download content to gaming and entertainment machines in public space venues.  We want to help move retail gaming operators away from having to move around physical furniture – slot machines and tables games in order to update their players experience to a new broadcast model, where the players’ experience is innovated over the network at the touch of a button.  We already do this in 30,000 terminals in betting shops, bingo halls, gaming bars in five countries and casinos are our newest growth area.

IGG: Inspired developed the Gala Gaming Platform last year.  What was involved in developing the concept, and how did people react to it?
LA:  The concept of GGP was created by Gala on the analogy of the fixed odds betting terminals in the UK, which have had a transformational impact on the profits of the big UK bookmakers.  FOBTs are essentially downloadable server-based terminals in OTBs, and Gala had the desire to transform its bingo and casino estate with SBG on an even larger scale than the bookies.  Gala’s vision is that all 100,000 gaming positions across its 180 bingo clubs, 30 casinos, and 1,200 OTBs would be connected to a central SBG control center so that new hot games and promotional messages would be propagated across their entire estate at the click of a button.  We tendered to provide Gala with the SBG software platform in competition with 19 other companies, many of them global gaming technology leaders.  Since winning the tender, we have been working closely with Gala to customize our existing SBG platform to their business requirements, and to develop new SBG products for its casino and bingo players.  These are now rolling out at speed, with spectacular income results.

IGG: How much of an impact will server-based gaming have on the industry?
LA:  SBG changes everything.  It breaks open the closed shop of game developers, creating an open market in content provision, it empowers the casino operator with better data and real time control of their players’ experience, and it gives the player more entertainment.  This means better incomes and reinvigorated customers, accelerating growth across the value chain.

IGG: Will Inspired take a prescriptive approach to game development, telling developers what you need, or will developers have to work independently on a game before approaching you with the concept?
LA:  Both approaches work, for different markets and product categories.  In general, we publish our open game API and invite developers to approach us or indeed our retail customers direct with new game ideas.  For creative developers and new entrants, this opens up a big new game market and gives them access to tens of thousands of terminals overnight.

IGG:  Will content providers have to surrender the rights to their games once given over to Inspired?
LA:  On the contrary, the games belong to the developers entirely, as do the associated IP and code.  We are principally a distributor and a software platform and we do not in general seek to develop our own casino games.  We do not compete with game developers of casino slots in any way at all.  That is not our competence.  Our competence is our SBG platform, and its open content API, against which any third party can develop games.

IGG: Which markets will you be targeting, both with the server-based games and the casino division?
LA:  we see SBG opportunities across a range of sectors, from casino to street gaming, bingo to betting, music, skill gaming and vending.  The casino division will seek to offer our open server-based gaming proposition to casino operators worldwide.   With 30,000 SBG terminals today, the only way is up!




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