Nolimit City Q&A: Malcolm Mizzi on Upcoming Titles & More
This Q&A session is with Malcolm Mizzi, Director of Commercial Operations at Nolimit City. Malcolm tells us about how the company started, new markets they’re eager to explore, the process of creating good slot games and upcoming titles that fans should be getting excited for.
Q&A Session with Malcolm Mizzi of Nolimit City
Hi Malcolm! Tell us a bit about Nolimit City’s beginnings.
It all started with the minds of two long standing brothers in arms, Emil Svärd and Jonas Tegman, who have spent their entire adult working life side by side, honing their techy skills together. The two have had their hands in multiple working journeys, from independent tech consultancy gigs, working in large scale projects and also being part of joint entrepreneurial ventures.
The spark happened when they worked at NetEnt - the training grounds for most of today’s successful Swedish studio off-springs. It was well over 10 years ago that they worked at the renowned games innovator, but their time there helped plant the seed that would in time become the fruit bearing tree we now know as Nolimit City.
This didn’t happen right away though, they first ventured further into the online gambling stratosphere and joined a fledgling operator startup known as ComeOn! Fast forward to early 2014 and they were ready to step out of the shadows to move on to their next full-time venture.
What makes Nolimit City stand out from the competition?
The truth is, we are one of many great suppliers out there today. We’re not simply trying to be the best, we’re just doing what we love, which is creating fun games that we’d like to play ourselves and just doing ‘us’. That may not mean much in writing, but doing ‘us’ and sticking to our guns has given Nolimit the edge over most upcoming studios.
Though we’re not that young anymore, we decided to learn and absorb criticism early, without taking things too personally. Yes we’ve done our fair share of duds and maybe there was a time we focused more on style over substance, but we’ve since adapted and grown smarter as a result.
Tell us about your team and the office environment in general?
Since the early days, the mantra has always been to hire only those that are on board with the overall vision that we’re creating something great; that we’re going to have to forget the comforts of other bigger, more established companies we may have worked at before. At Nolimit City it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get ready to aim for the stars. Thanks to this attitude, we have amazing teams worldwide.
Our Stockholm office is where all the magic happens, this is where our big brains sit and develop our robust platform that supports a multitude of increasing games and upcoming promotional tools. Then we have the ever-insightful and bright team based in Gurugram, India. Young, agile and full of spirit, they’re delivering some incredible work that has helped maximise our library dramatically.
Last but not least, our Malta HQ, where the operations and commercial team sits is without a doubt where the heart of Nolimit beats fast and delivers rapid output. The pandemic has done nothing more than strengthen us as an organisation. Yes it has been undoubtedly disruptive at times and frustrating in others, but we have adapted and see no change in our momentum.
How would you describe your main audience?
We’re growing on different fronts, it may be safe to say that the more open minded mid-20s, early 30s adults have really jumped on-board the Nolimit train, giving our games more of a chance and appreciating what we’re creating.
Which countries do you legally operate in at the moment, and in which ones do you feel you have the strongest players base and why?
We are licensed today by the UKGC and MGA, and certified towards the Swedish, Latvian and Estonian regulated markets. There’s no doubt that the Nordics and Germanic markets are where we’re strongest, although the UK is fast becoming a key market for us too.
Which new markets are Nolimit City looking to conquer next?
Most definitely the rest of Europe. We have plans to enter five new regulated markets, including Denmark, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Lithuania, all happening within the coming months. We of course dream of the great US of A, but that will take a bit more time to happen.
How many operators have Nolimit City games in their lobbies?
Without wanting to throw numbers for others to speculate over, I’m comfortable in saying that today we’re present on most leading .com sites and have a handful left before we’re pretty much on all key brands we should be on.
Do you feel the relationship between software developers and gambling affiliates is changing?
No doubt, and we’re ready for it and have been for a while. We’ve embraced affiliates from the early days, acknowledging that as a young studio, we need to be respected and recognised by them if we’re to reach the wider audience. It’s too early to say really, but we feel that the role between affiliates and software developers will become far closer than it already is today.
What are the most prominent game mechanics and special game features that are unique to Nolimit City?
This may be a bit obvious to most, but it has to be our xNudge® mechanic, which we’ve utilised on several of our most popular games and showcased most recently on the mega-hit, Deadwood xNudge®. That said, we’re also quite proud of our xWays® mechanic, which has showcased the best of two of our strongest titles, Dragon Tribe and Punk Rocker.
What’s fun about these mechanics is that we’ve been able to sit them side by side in games and create some insanely entertaining slots. Even though we’re happy we created these two strong mechanics, we’re continuously looking to create more entertaining mechanics (hopefully even create our own triple-X franchise) and will hope they continue to make us stand out.
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What are your personal top 3 Nolimit City games and why?
Personally, I’m a huge fan of one of our older titles, Casino Win Spin. Although oddly named, I’ll admit, it just has something so special and simple at the same time. Connect the two hot zones with the same symbol and hope that you lose consecutively until you hit big! Makes sense? Maybe not, but it really works.
I’m also a fan of our title, Tractor Beam, that, although looks cute, can be pretty harsh, but can also deliver some whopping wins. Last but not least, it has to be Punk Rocker. It’s just an incredibly complex game with so much attitude and flair, and yet can deliver humongous wins in both the base game and bonus rounds.
Obviously, I would be crazy and doing a great injustice if I didn’t also give an honourable mention to our iconic game, Tombstone. It sports a common theme coupled with a not so common mechanic that really put us on the map!
Do you have any plans to venture into other casino game verticals, table games, and so on? If not, what makes you concentrate on slot games only?
We do dwell on that from time to time. Sure we can maybe look at other products, but for now we’re pretty set on creating fun slot games, so our attention is still focused on that. Maybe that will change soon though, you never know.
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Do you ever reskin your games or reuse the same mechanics/setup?
The term ‘reskin’ is pretty frowned upon in the industry as a whole. Yes it’s cheaper and more convenient to just grab an existing game and give it a face swap, but that’s not really any fun is it? And players just see through it a mile away. It also tends to have adverse effects, so we don’t quite reskin any of our games, although I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to working on games we’ve built in the past and incorporating new twists on already great mechanics.
Take our March 2020 release, Barbarian Fury, that game is in fact built on our 2017 title, Hot Nudge. We changed things around a bit and kept the overall mechanic fresh and still different enough from its predecessor - so much so that most don’t even realise the two are closely related!
How do you go about the themes of your slots, mixing some tried and tested themes (Egypt, Cowboys, Mythology) with more unique and unpredictable themes like Punk Rocker, Owls etc.?
It’s really a mix of both. We ask ourselves what we’re missing and what works in terms of already popular themes. We then decide on whether we can offer something fresh or scrap the idea due to oversaturation. Then we also try out new ideas and just give free reign to our designers. How can you not when you have such immense talent?
I mean, some of our designers have Instagram followers in the hundreds of thousands thanks to their unique style. Why would we take that identity away from them and hide it? That’s very much what led us to Punk Rocker. It may not be for everyone stylistically, but it surely can’t be denied that the game has some insane character.
How long does it take to produce a game from scratch, from the initial idea to the official release?
We develop around 14-16 games a year with plans to increase year on year and we’re under 50 employees. That’s an incredible feat if you stop and think about it. I guess some games take longer than others, but it’s not really about the duration, it’s more about the project planning and direction.
Some titles have more foresight than others. That is something we continuously hope to refine. Taking a concept we believe in and deliver it with the same vision from beginning to end, but at the same time leave room for impromptu ideas that come up.
What do you feel the audience is craving now when it comes to slots? Do you think the tastes and preferences of players have changed over the last few years?
Honestly, who knows! We have some inclination but we’re always guessing what works and what doesn’t. It seems the more volatile slot with massive potential is what attracts the masses these days, though we feel that solid mechanics and innovation is what people hope to see in upcoming studios.
People are tired of repeats of the same over saturated mechanic. Players are keen on getting their hands on different forms of slot games. Then again, the classic ‘Book of’ games still work very well and players still flock at the latest iteration of the same game, so once again, who knows?
Any hints you can give us about your next upcoming game or games, and when can we expect it?
This year we’re mixing it up a bit. We’ve done the highly volatile slots, but now it’s time to appease another player segment by offering a few less brutal games (though we still have more ahead of us on that front). 2020 should prove to be a pretty exciting year for Nolimit City fans out there. Look out for our upcoming game, Bonus Bunnies, that’s set to release in early June and will offer something familiar to players with a fun theme.
What is the proudest moment you’ve had at Nolimit City?
We’ve just been shortlisted for the first time ever for this year's EGR B2B Awards under the ‘Slot supplier’ category. We’re super excited for this and hope for the best. There’s also our Nolimit-Replay and Winners tool which I’d like to lend particular credence to. We launched this just a few weeks ago and players just love being able to relive and replay their own biggest wins and also admire our network’s biggest wins ever on all our titles.
Not only that, but the tool allows you to easily share the replay link over social media or direct with friends. It’s something simple but has already gone a long way for us. We hope to continue building on the tool and use it to collaborate with streamers and affiliates, whilst also continuing working on new upcoming promotional tools for our operators to continue pushing Nolimit games.
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