Arcangelo Lonoce – Making Habanero a Force to Be Reckoned With
For our next installment of interviews with leaders from the gambling industry, we were lucky enough to have a chat with Arcangelo Lonoce, Habanero’s head of business development. He told us about how the company manages to stay fresh, competitive, and engaging in a crowded market and what he believes is the key to success for the game developer.
Thank you for joining us and being part of our interview series! Please introduce yourself to our readers and give us some insight into your background in the industry.
Happy to be here! I’m Arcangelo Lonoce, and I’ve now been at Habanero for four years. When I first joined Habanero in late 2017, my initial brief was to oversee the development and expansion of our brand across European markets – which has proven a resounding success, and my role as Head of Business Development has now expanded to oversee our operations in Latin America, Africa, and other key markets.
I’m delighted to be working at Habanero. Looking back to when I was making the choice to come aboard, Habanero was a very strong contender for me, having already worked with them on the operator side - as I really valued the way they put the client first in everything they do.
Please can you give us a quick overview of what Habanero does and your philosophy towards game development?
Our aim is to take what we do better than anyone else, and elevate it, which is why we have stuck to developing RNG games in the casino environment. We’re absolutely obsessed with offering the best player experience and delivering to our partners, which is why our games combine vibrant themes and immersive mechanics to create unparalleled user experiences.
Our ethos is also to be able to scale as much as possible. All our systems have been built in the most scalable way possible as we need to ensure that we can deliver and adapt to any changes - not only to build on our own expansion strategy but also to deliver solutions quickly and help our clients stay on top of their roadmaps.
You have recently received licenses in a number of new markets, and you mention on your website that your games are popular globally. What kind of features/games have you found attract players across many different places?
At the end of the day, the key to success is the mathematics. We aim to make our products as entertaining as possible by catering to both slots and table games fans. One of the things that impresses me most about Habanero is the way we can provide an extremely entertaining gaming experience without compromising on the excitement factor that is associated with a slot product.
Our titles feature strong, innovative mathematics, lush graphics, and truly immersive storylines. All of this, merged with a state-of-the-art soundtrack and a very intuitive UI, enables us to provide bespoke adventures to our players that shows them the best of what we offer.
One of the features that attracted me to Habanero when I became acquainted with their games was the ability to deliver high volatility in the most entertaining of ways. Our slots never feel dull in the wait of a big win – the storylines and gameplay truly take you on a journey, just like our hit Scopa! shows flawlessly.
There are some big differences between regulations in the markets you are licensed for. Does this present any difficulties when developing games?
No, it does not. We certainly do not consider regulations when it comes to the design of our games. Naturally, they have some benchmarks and some boundaries that we have to move within, but we do not really develop games with potential future restrictions in mind – that’s where our flexibility comes in.
Of course, many restrictions do exist, but most simply require common sense to abide by, such as not creating games that appeal to younger audiences which no one in their right mind would do anyway. We believe that the storytelling element and sheer power of mathematical models are what give games their appeal, and some of the recent regulatory developments do impact the player’s game experience. However, strong storytelling, entertaining gameplay, and intelligent math models easily overcome this challenge.
Have you noticed any changes to what operators require from game developers? Perhaps in back-office capabilities?
One thing that’s certain is that operators need easy solutions to the many challenges today’s marketplace puts in their way. In truth, flexibility is all about delivering what is required by legislation or other circumstances that require the business model to adapt, and this is something that operators find increasingly key to a partnership.
For example, many of our clients have been expanding past their original market of reference in the past years, and this is only a natural development of an increasingly tight-margin marketplace. Such operators need to be supported swiftly in their plans to open up new opportunities globally, and our multiple jurisdiction-ready, one-click solutions plus our ability to quickly adapt and localize makes us a strong partner to grow with.
We’re incredibly proud of our in-house platform, which has zero maintenance downtime and a fully modular setup. This means that we can adapt instantly to changes or requirements that might come from different stakeholders due to marketing or regulatory requirements for compliance. With a brand-new title being rolled out monthly and a workforce that is dedicated to delivering the very best user experience, our clients are in very capable hands.
What challenges and opportunities do you predict for the coming years as a casino game developer?
Responsible gambling is an opportunity for us all to think outside of the box when designing products and grow our businesses to reflect a sensible message when it comes to gambling. Technology also offers plenty of opportunities which we already see reflected in the momentum gamification has grown in the industry.
New markets present both challenges and opportunities to developers, with some opening and becoming more and more profitable, as seen in the US, for example, where the growth in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and other jurisdictions is showing us that the future looks bright.
Constant regulatory changes, of course, are another challenge for us, just as they are for all – and it’s our job to always make sure we’re there for our casino partners. Tweaking the formula that has got us this far while keeping it working in more than 20 different jurisdictions is a huge challenge that we very much enjoy working on.
To remain competitive, we need to be able to identify opportunities and offer the right technical solutions and support.
Do you envision any big changes in the online casino industry in the coming years?
Tech is going to be the key differentiator, as well as regulation and new markets. Each of these will have a massive influence on the way the industry is shaped. I am thinking of eSports, for example, which is bound to remain a big player and potentially get even bigger considering how popular it is becoming. How do we interact with that growing segment and rather than the traditional sportsbook player? The answer is slowly forming across the world, but even just the question brings excitement.
Finally, can you tell us anything about what players can look forward to in Habanero’s upcoming releases?
We have just launched our revamped tournament and gamification widget “Up,” which is sure to go down great with our partners and players. That said, I’m sure our Jackpot Race™ will keep going from strength to strength, and we are closely looking at improving our UI to provide an even slicker experience to our ever-growing fan base. In short, we’ve got some fantastic developments in the pipeline. For now, I really can’t say much more on the topic, but stay tuned!
We very much look forward to finding out what the developments are that Lonoce mentioned, and we are hugely grateful for him taking the time to tell us in such detail about the driving factors behind Habanero. From what we’ve heard, it sounds certain that Habanero is set to go from strength to strength and become an even more exciting company to follow.