In the latest piece of Chipy.com’s exclusive interview series, we have featured Toni Karapetrov, Head of Corporate Communication at Habanero Systems, one of the biggest suppliers of high-quality slots and table games. Read the complete interview to find out more about Habanero Systems from the perspective of a key figure in the company.
Q: How is it to work for Habanero? Can you describe a usual day at the office?
We take our jobs very seriously here at Habanero. Our team enjoys close personal friendships, and it’s a pleasure to spend each day working with such a talented group of diligent industry professionals.
Our deep and abiding passion for all things gaming motivates us to develop high-quality content that exceeds expectations across the board.
There’s no better feeling than knowing that a game has proved to be a hit with our operator partners and their players, and we spend most of the day devoted to the creative process to really make sure we can produce games that really stand out.
Q: Can you give us some examples of defining features for Habanero slots? What makes them stand out from the rest?
As a premium casino content developer that has become a recognized name all over Europe and LatAm, the quality of our games is always paramount. We’ve also created a wide and impressive range of highly innovative features to keep our players excited, such as a Jackpot RaceTM, which fuses the logic of a poker-style pot with a must-drop jackpot solution that really pays out.
In addition, the quality of the graphics you’ll find in a Habanero title is quite simply unparalleled. We’re proud pioneers of the HTML5 space, with a multi-channel portfolio that is flawlessly optimized for the full spectrum of devices – and we really put the time into work long and hard to make sure our titles are some of the most exciting out there.
Q: You’ve recently launched a Christmas-themed slot called “Christmas Gift Rush”. Is it common for Habanero to create games based on holidays such as Easter, Christmas, Halloween, etc, or was this game an exception?
We’re always up for celebrating special times of the year! Our catalog showcases a wide variety of different thematic effects, and holidays are certainly included within that.
As well as the action-packed festive caper that is Christmas Gift Rush, which has been hugely popular, our recent Mexican-inspired release, Taberna De Los Muertos, was launched in celebration of the popular national holiday, Día De Los Muertos in Mexico.
Q: What do you think are the main factors that make your games so appealing to players?
We’re obsessed with perfecting every stage of the end-user journey. Our games are rich in color and accompanied by thematic soundtracks that create a genuinely immersive gaming experience.
Here at Habanero, we’re strong believers that a great game is a great game no matter where you play it, but we are no strangers to localized content in the circumstances where it’s appropriate.
Take the example of our Mexican-themed hit, 5 Mariachis. The title has performed impressively in the Latin American territories, in large part because it’s such a strong culture fit with the regional player base.
However, it’s also proven to be a real hit over in Europe precisely because it offers great maths and some really eye-catching graphics – which shows that your games can appeal anywhere, as long as you’ve got the quality to back it up.
Q: What are your favorite Habanero games and why? Do you also have any favorite games from other developers?
It’s a really tough choice, but if you put a gun to my head I’d have to go with Scopa. The game (which means ‘broom’) was inspired by an 18th-century Italian tradition of the same name, which grants points to those who ‘sweep’ the table by matching another player’s card.
Our own slot-based iteration takes players on an unforgettable adventure through some of the country’s best-loved cultural capitals, sampling the staple Habanero menu of stunning graphics, inviting original characters, and an authentic soundtrack along the way.
In terms of other developers, I’m always a fan of quality content! I think this year’s shortlist for EGR’s Game of the Year had some really great titles from the likes of Playtech, Relax Gaming, and Red Tiger.
I believe that with quality content, you can really create games that stand out with players. These three studios are great examples of this, and of course, slots like Money Train II from Relax Gaming have certainly caught my eyes this year!
Q: What are the steps in the development process of a new game? Is there any fun part when you work on your games?
There’s nothing quite like seeing your idea come to life in a scintillating slot title that you just know will prove successful with a broad range of players.
One of the many fantastic things about working at Habanero is that we are given free rein when it comes to the creative process, and it really shows with the work our development teams put together – all of whom have their own ways of doing things!
When it comes to the development process, it’s all about sitting down and working out what we want to make and how we want to do it differently from what we’ve done before. Of course, that’s not to say we don’t have themes through our games and a signature style of maths and gameplay – but we always want to set out to create something new.
That is a lot of fun for us as it is always a step into the unknown, and we take real enjoyment out of starting with a blank canvas. Of course, the criteria for turning our ideas into an actual game is extremely stringent, hence the outstanding quality of all our titles, but the challenging nature of the job just makes it all the more satisfying in the end – and I think seeing our players entertained and getting enjoyment out of our titles is definitely one of the biggest payoffs.
Q: This year is almost ending, so can you tell us what titles were the most successful in your 2020 game portfolio?
Games such as Egyptian Dreams Deluxe and Hot Hot Fruit have enjoyed tremendous international success, and the team deserves great credit for making both projects come to life in a way that looks world-class, as well as the dedication to produce a title that could really stand the test of time.
Our far-Eastern themed title, Wealth Inn, has performed exceptionally in the European markets, which is a testament to our belief that a great game is a great game no matter where you play it.
Staying with that continent, Scopa and Happy Ape are also top performers, which is perhaps unsurprising given the impressively high-quality of both titles – along with some top thematics and gameplay that players have really enjoyed.
One theme that has resonated particularly strongly for us with players this year is that gamified element for slots, whether that’s with Scopa’s twist on the Italian classic, or our map-based model in Loony Blox.
I believe the year ahead is going to be all about offering the player premium experiences that offer additional sets of layers above just the reels, but rather – a challenge that requires something more than just a spin.
Q: We would like to know what markets is Habanero targeting at the moment? Do you plan on entering new markets in the near future?
It’s certainly been a busy year, but it’s fair to say that we are extending our customer reach in regulated markets across the globe. 2020 has seen us debut in Colombia, Germany, Romania, and Estonia (to name just a few!), and I expect to see plenty more to come next year. From Bogotá to Berlin, we’re here to deliver – and I’m absolutely delighted by how far we’ve come in the last few years.
Q: What social media channels do you use to promote your games? What role does social media play in your marketing strategy?
Like a growing number of companies in today’s iGaming industry, social media forms a key tenet of our marketing and customer acquisition strategies.
Streamers will be of huge importance next year to the industry, and it’s all about exciting players with slots that are proven with influencers that they trust. On the business development side, our team also makes good use of their networks and we’ve got some great friends in the industry.
Of course, do give us a follow on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, and be sure to check out the fantastic game videos on our YouTube channel.
Q: What can you tell us about your upcoming slot titles? What Habanero fans should expect from your future releases?
While I can’t give anything away about our development pipeline, suffice to say that we’ve got some real treats in store for our players at the beginning of next year. As I’ve mentioned before, gamification will be hugely important next year in terms of offering players entertainment beyond ‘spin and win’.
We’re going to be all about offering additional levels of enjoyment above that – and aiming to delight with every title we bring to market. We look forward to seeing you in 2021!
We’re definitely going to keep an eye on Habanero and try out some of their awesome games! You can do the same by checking out our Free Habanero Games page. Good luck!