The long-awaited opening of the German market has arrived

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Catalin Negoita, Commercial Manager at Kalamba Games

The long-awaited German legislation allowing online gaming nationwide finally enters into force this week. Even before fully opening up, the market has become a key focus for many industry players, with a multitude of factors making the potential of the region an attractive proposition.

Firstly, there is the sheer size of the country itself. With a population second only to Russia in Europe and relatively high average earnings, the potential value of the player pool is vast. The second reason is perhaps more subjective, but we have found that German players are fairly easy to satisfy. Their preferences are well established, which makes it straightforward for an online casino supplier to adequately cater for this sizeable new clientele.

Because of the country’s strong history of land-based gambling, classic games that resemble titles found in brick-and-mortar venues with popular themes like ancient Egypt and book games work very well with local players. Taking inspiration from what works in the land-based sector is therefore often a safe bet in Germany. Mobile usage is also a lot higher than your average market because of the good infrastructure so it’s worth considering creating games that are optimised for mobile.

Strict rules and regulations around responsible gaming and player protection have already presented some challenges for the industry with slot suppliers required to make fundamental changes to the makeup of their content.

Operators must adopt a €1 maximum stake limit on online slots, alongside a 5-second minimum duration on slot spins. Jackpots will be banned, removing an important acquisition and retention tool for operators. Monthly deposit limits of €1,000 will also be introduced and players must be offered tools to set spending and time limits, along with cooling-off periods.

These restrictions will influence the shape of the market with the main effect being that retention will have a greater focus than in many other markets with fewer restrictions.

Despite being a hot topic in the industry for quite some time, providers will now be trying even harder to retain more players for longer and will have to be creative in order to succeed. Legislative changes are part of every regulated market and it is key for operators and suppliers to embrace them and try to adapt as best we can. We are known to be a very innovative industry and I’m sure as the market matures, we will see pioneering new ways to acquire and retain players while ensuring maximum player protection.

Basically gamification, customer service and the quality of games in general will be the differentiator in the German market, and that is for both providers and operators to address.

Gambling will become more of a social thing because the maximum limit is so low. It’s not exactly going to be the thrill of winning big – it will be the social aspect and making sure that retention factors, gamification side missions and different functionalities are top notch.

You could say a laser-like focus on promotional tools and social gaming elements, such as those that we are introducing on our own Kalamba Bullseye platform, are going to be very important. Basically, everything that enhances the player experience will be key such as promotional tools, UX elements, and/or in-game gamification features. Similarly, game production values will have to be high and match those of other entertainment media.

At Kalamba, we believe that Germany will be a very strong market. The way to monetise the market will just be a little bit different there. There won’t be VIP players, so the industry will have to adjust to a volume model. Player values will decrease but because of the social acceptance of gaming, and slots in particular, the player numbers will increase and that’s how it will balance itself out over time.

Initially, when the legislation comes into force, we will just have to analyse the player behaviour and see in what direction the market is going and how we can fully capitalise on this new opportunity. Germany will be a market that could completely change with providers having to adapt to the new conditions as there will be a lot of new players entering the market now that it’s completely regulated.

We must work very closely with our partners to figure out the best way to make the player experience as engaging as possible and this will lead us to success in this new and exciting environment.

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