With licensed games generating more than $3 billion for lotteries in 2022 alone, curating a compelling portfolio of brands to meet the unique needs of the industry is a complex, but critical undertaking. Harnessing the immense potential of licensed games by handpicking brands that resonate with a broad range of players and non-players alike in various jurisdictions worldwide demands exceptional leadership.
With a career spanning more than three decades, Pollard Banknote’s (PBL) Brad Thompson, Vice-President, Sales & Marketing, oversees the company’s portfolio of licensed games and has shaped many successful licensed game programs.
What can lotteries expect from PBL’s licensed game portfolio?
Brad Thompson: Our licensed game portfolio features a diverse range of well-recognized brands that have global appeal, from retro gaming and entertainment to vehicles and board games. We strive to provide lotteries with licensed games that are instantly embraced at retail and that offer outstanding player experiences including exciting second chance draws, unique interactive games, and memorable experiential prizing. PBL’s retro arcade collection also offers fantastic omnichannel opportunities to maximize engagement with players across a lottery’s entire ecosystem—something we are striving to make available for all our brands. We know that the most successful lotteries have created exciting omnichannel play experiences for their players and we are working hard to do this for all lotteries, regardless of where they are in their digital journey. An additional benefit of working with PBL is our 360° extended marketing support that offers lotteries fully customized and integrated, turnkey launch strategies to generate player engagement.
What is unique about PBL’s approach to licensed games?
Brad Thompson: One aspect that makes PBL unique is that we maintain a selective portfolio, typically 15 to 20 brands, which we choose carefully based on their potential to drive sales and attract new players to lottery. With a lean portfolio, we can focus on innovation and give each brand the attention needed for success. We can concentrate on curating both an expansive ticket portfolio with different playstyles and designs, and on creating fully integrated promotions, with options for merchandise, experiential prizing, events, social media contests, and more. We also have the freedom to push the boundaries by experimenting with novel game mechanics and exploring unique and captivating game play experiences. We are constantly evaluating new licensed properties to identify opportunities to disrupt the market and create a buzz among lottery players and loyal brand fanbases that have yet to be introduced to lottery.
What new licensed properties can lotteries expect from PBL?
Brad Thompson: In the last 18 months, we have signed several brands that are entirely new to the lottery space and instantly recognizable at retail. CATAN® and Ticket to Ride™ are contemporary board game brands that have fiercely loyal players, with many in the coveted 21-to-35-year-old demographic, while Guy Fieri, one of the most iconic culinary stars and a popular television host, presented an opportunity to offer something different within the proven food-themed category.
JAWS and Universal Monsters are nostalgic and have incredible visual appeal and extensive assets, so they are a great fit, offering attention-grabbing ticket art options and entertaining game play. Lotteries can make the most of these brand assets with PBL’s new digital press, which allows for an increased number of distinct ticket images within a game. We recently developed 36 distinct ticket faces on our digital press for Universal Monsters games.
We are confident that these brands, combined with our holistic marketing support and unique program design, will bring fresh experiences to lottery players. Our portfolio injects relevance and novelty into the player experience, ensuring that lotteries capture the interest of a broad player base.
What brands will we see coming to market next?
Brad Thompson: The Nebraska Lottery successfully introduced Universal Monsters in September 2022, and several other jurisdictions are set to follow suit this year. In June, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) celebrated the inaugural launches of JAWS and Ticket to Ride. Looking ahead, CATAN is scheduled to launch in September, while the highly anticipated arrival of Guy Fieri will take place later this year. These new brands, along with our proven arcade classic games like Frogger and PAC-MAN™, will continue to make their mark with additional launches planned well into 2024.
We are always thrilled to see our new licensed games in market and watch how quickly they become player favorites. Ultimately, successful games mean increased revenue for the good causes that lotteries support.