Hello, Im very good thank you Marius. Having my holiday in Thailand at the moment but coming to Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam 2017. Im sure it will be very exciting event.
How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?
It has been a long road from being a poker sub-affiliate to being co-founder and MD of Good Game Ltd. I started as a poker sub-affiliate in 2007. In 2010 I started to do affiliate business with my childhood friend Toni Halonen and we launched our first site for poker players. Ever since, we have been working together very successfully.
2011 was a year of change for us. We read an article that there’s gaming companies in Malta and we packed our bags and moved to the rock knowing nothing about Malta. Same year we founded Good Game Ltd and we launched our second site.
In 2012 we changed from poker to casinos and in the end of 2013 a new partner, an SEO specialist, Jussi Kauppinen joined our team and ever since we have been working as a trio.
Two years later we sold our biggest casino site to Catena Media. After the acquisition, we didn’t even think about leaving the gaming industry.
Last year was very intensive for us as we hired more people to join our company, but today I’m very happy how the team performs. Without a great team we would not be where we are today. So, I take this opportunity to thank all our past and present Good Gamers for the magnificent job you have done.
Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?
We have three major owners in Good Game Ltd me, Toni Halonen and Jussi Kauppinen. We have also committed few of our key players with shares from our company.
Our office is located in Malta and we have team of 10 people there. Addition to this, we have 17 freelancers who are working for us outside Malta. In the near future we will hire more people to our Malta office, especially developers and content writers.
Even though we concentrate almost only on casino sites like nettikasinot.com and netticasinot.com, we have two sites from other niches as well. One of them is a sportsbetting site (veikkausbonukset.com) and other one an e-sports site (eurheilu.com). Our goal is to build them to top sites in Finland and we see a lot of potential in all of them, especially in casino and e-sports.
With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?
Im not at all. I think it’s a natural way of business that these things are happening. iGaming industry is quite young and I believe that this is just beginning. I see that affiliate business has changed to more serious business in recent years and it’s not so easy to come to market with a one-man show anymore.
A number of your competitors have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you also done this?
Yes, we are co-owners in two online casinos. We are not involved in daily business, but it has been amazing to see what is happening on the operator side as well. This experience helps us to understand more the needs of casinos.
Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?
How to integrate great content with technology. That’s it.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ?
At the moment we are focusing only at Finnish market. I see lot of potential in the emerging markets and we are looking to expand our markets in the near future.
How do you find Scandinavian markets and competition?
We have experience only from Finnish market and it’s very competitive and difficult market. Our strategy has been to focus only where (Finland for now) we have a chance to be a big player.
How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?
Not really in any way. More these updates have been strengthening our strategy to do SEO and affiliation.
Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?
At the moment, we are drawing blueprints for our first international casino site. This is new to us and it’s very exciting to take a step to “uncharted waters”.
What is the main thing that you’d like Sigma readers to know about your sites?
We want to build our sites as honestly and openly as possible. Our users are the main thing for us. How to answer their problems and search intention the best possible way.
We also want to build big sites when it comes to content and site functionalities.
What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?
We see this only as very exciting development. It opens up so many great opportunities to creative entrepreneurs and marketers to create value for users.
What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?
The biggest challenge is a possible regulation process on our main markets. This won’t happen in Finland this year, but is definitely something we need to take into consideration.
Other concern, not big but still a concern, is that there are many new online casinos coming to the space right now and some of them won’t make it. So, we just need to see which casinos we push more.
What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?
As in all kinds of business is important that you have a good road map for what you are going to do. Better focus on one thing and be very good in that than trying to do many things just OK. In this business results takes lot of time, so you need to be ready to work hard and never give up.
Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?
Sometimes we like to play slots on Fridays after work with beer and wine. If I would win a million I would buy a villa from South Europe and the rest I would invest to stock market and gaming companies / start ups.
Ville Sissonen is the Managing Director / co-founder of Good Game ltd. He has poker background and is now in casino business. He have been working in industry since 2007.
Have you attended SiGMA last year? Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.