Quentin Stott, managing director of Reflex Gaming, is looking forward to ACOS next week. But then he should be, his company has spent the Covid-era pumping out new games and developing its systems. “We are pointed in a very good direction,” he told Coinslot ahead of his trip to London.
If you think 20 months of lockdown has slowed the work ethic at Reflex Gaming, think again. For the best part of two thirds of that time, the games design and manufacturing independent’s key market – pubs – have been shut, and yet they’ve turned out multiple new game releases, continued development of the Game Payment app, expanded into new overseas territories; it’s been the busiest of lockdowns at the Newark based operation.
But managing director Quentin Stott is under no illusions: “I’m a firm believer that those businesses that invest will get the return, and we’ve spent all of lockdown investing in our games portfolio, technology and player experience.”
There is the one very realistic caveat, however. As we said, Stott is under no illusions. “In reality, the industry is facing the prospect of having to limp along on limited supply chain capacity, reduced orders and unsettled market activity until next spring.”
In fairness, the amusements and gambling industry will not be alone on that journey; the current trials of energy, supply chain and staff shortages are a curse on all our houses – something which the Reflex boss describes as “the industry’s biggest challenge over the next 12-24 months.”
Stott, though, notes that Reflex “is pointed in a very good direction” as the entire market faces some strong headwinds.
The games designer’s latest release – the October launch of Desperate Dawgs – has made an impactful start on the extensive platform that Reflex has built up. Early signs show another upward trend on stats which is something the company has been achieving consistently in the 20 weeks that pubs have been back in action.
“I think Coinslot pointed out recently that the CLMS statistics have been placing us double digit points ahead in their charts. It has put us in the spotlight and that’s down to a very good creative team which is very experienced and can create popular and engaging games very efficiently,” he explained.
And profitable too. On GamePro Pulse, the 32-game menu is driving a significant growth in cashbox. And in hardware also, the philosophy is simple and effective. “We sell a machine with strong core games on. We charge a subscription which provides for us updating and managing a game every month and these games draw in good income.”
Simple, yes, but there’s technological heft behind it. Two key ones for Reflex: its own Slingshot data system, and more recently the Bacta driven Game Payment Technology payment app which is enjoying significant growth.
Both are making their mark on the business. “Slingshot has been a major support to the operation,” Stott says. “It monitors machine health and performance and has delivered vital data to speed our reaction to issues and forecast opportunities. For our operating partners, it delivers key information that helps us meet our aspirations in the pub sector.”
And the Game Payment technology app has also moved the offering forward. “It gives us incredible tools on the social responsibility side and equally important, enhanced player engagement. The figures there, too, are really encouraging with the cash transfer to app going up month by month.”
For Reflex, the GPT allure comes not just with pub gaming machines, but with the wider leisure offering in pubs and clubs. “It works with pool, jukeboxes, on digital, analogue gaming products – it has a wider appeal and that can only drive income further.”
And it’s all being brought to ACOS next week where Stott is expecting a busy turnout. So how important is the expo season of ACOS, EAG and ICE over the coming months?
Stott is very clear: “The fact that the shows are able to go ahead means that these events are extremely important to Reflex and all involved in the gaming and coin on sector. We’re about to set off and hero our latest range of products at the ACOS show, and from speaking to customers, I expect the event to be very well attended. I also think that the shows will provide an extra level of confidence to the supply and manufacturing sector as we are able to reengage with customers face to face.”
Time, then, to Reflex those muscles.
“Personally, I don’t think shipping costs will go back to previous levels”
QUENTIN STOTT REFLEX GAMING
Coinslot: Reflex are clearly big in pubs, but what’s the breakdown of your other markets and which are showing good growth?
Quentin Stott: Pubs have been at the core of our development focus for a long time now, but we’ve always been active in other sectors too.
Reflex has been active in the Dutch market since 2014, however our partnership in the Netherlands changed in April 2021 following the sale of Reflex Gaming VoF to the well-known and established Dutch distributor, Amutron Sales & Service.
Although the pandemic has impacted our immediate opportunities, both businesses are now focussing on building on Reflex’s successful product range with new developments coming to market in the near future.
We are also involved in a number of other export markets which we anticipate will start recovery over the coming months.
Reflex’s slots content business for online operators has also been in growth through the pandemic and has been one of the success stories for the company through the pandemic.
Coinslot: How are you viewing the current transportation debate – particularly in the context of people like you warning this was happening six months ago?
Quentin Stott: Shipping costs and component shortages are a serious issue for manufacturers as we look to recovery following the pandemic.
Some components have been discontinued since we first went into lockdown and others have simply shot up in price.
All of this is being compounded by shipping and container prices having skyrocketed.
Personally, I don’t think shipping costs will go back to previous levels and I envisage us riding this problem for another 18 months to 2 years before we see some stabilisation of these costs.
Coinslot: In a practical sense, what kind of timeframe are operators who want to buy machines for next summer actually facing?
Quentin Stott: Firstly, I don’t think we should just talk about lead times for seasonal businesses. The supply of product is the lifeblood of all land based sectors, and those investing should be aware that the supply chain is currently extremely fragile.
Customers will have heard of various component shortages and increases to materials and shipping costs.
Our sector is not immune from these forces and if the likes of Jaguar Land Rover and other global manufacturers are affected, then it stands to reason that gaming machine manufacture will suffer too.
Although Reflex is doing everything we can, mainly by ordering against forecasted customer demand over the coming 6 months, we would encourage customers to let us know anticipated needs just as early as possible