Play It Gaming chief targets emerging markets after successful investment round

21 November 2013

Cory Cleveland, the president and co-founder of Play It Gaming, has targeted emerging markets for feature phone technology in Latin America, Asia and Africa after the Canadian social gaming start-up raised more than $700,000 through an oversubscribed seed investment round.

Play It Gaming – in partnership with biNu, a cloud-based application platform that enables iPhone-like functionality on feature phones – aims to deliver a “multitude” of social gaming opportunities and the ability to place wagers on global sporting events.

The majority of those users will be based in emerging markets, Cleveland told iGaming Business.

“Our target markets are defined by both by user demand and their accessibility,” Cleveland said.

“Through the feature phone platform we have in place we are able to see which areas and regions have more active users as well as sign-ups. With this information, we have specifically chosen to work in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, as they represent best the target demographic that Play It Gaming focuses on.”

Cleveland explained Play It Gaming’s strategy by citing an independent study by Portio Research that found that the non-smartphone userbase is expected to reach 5.41 billion globally by 2016.

“While there is limited penetration in mature markets, and the numbers certainly suggest continued growth in the feature phone market, well established regional markets aren't our target,” he added.

“Our strength lies in bringing the Play It Gaming platform to emerging markets where feature phone technology is still growing and evolving.

“The traction we have with biNu and the growing user base, are indicators of the opportunity in emerging markets.”

Cleveland acknowledged that processing payments on feature phones are “inherently difficult”, but added that Play It Gaming had met the challenge.

“Knowing the difficulties we would face, we began to bring the expertise needed in-house in development and advisory roles,” he added.

“While there are a number of methods to facilitate payments on feature phones, each set has a specific use case and needs to be addressed individually.”

Cleveland also said Play It Gaming would try to offer a social gaming experience that is tailored for particular regions and territories.

“Part of Play It Gaming's appeal is how regionally focused we are able to be in relation to our users,” he added.

“With this we have a tremendous opportunity to create very specific, traditional games that can be deployed and localised in each of these regions.

“For example we are evaluating the development of ‘Mancala’ a traditional board game that is very popular in the Middle East and Africa. While this may not appeal to larger audiences outside of these regions, it will resonate very deeply with users who are familiar with the game.”