SG Digital Embracing Player Experience


With many years’ experience working with leading data science companies and some of the biggest data-led brands in the world, including the UK grocery retailer Tesco, Nathan Jones joined Scientific Games Digital (SG Digital) earlier this year to lead their data team and turn their enviable database of player insights into a central part of the business.

At SG Digital’s GamesFest customer event in the summer, Huw Thomas (CMO, SG Digital) interviewed Nathan about his initial impression of the industry, his plans for the future and what insights he has gleaned from his time at SG Digital so far.

What were your initial impressions of our data capabilities when you arrived at SG Digital?

One of the attractions to joining the business was the sheer volume of data. The data spans games across multiple operators and it is incredibly powerful to see how this impacts player behaviour. We certainly didn’t have this level of insight in retail where we only had a view of our own world. Another thing we at SG Digital benefit from is detailed data from our own games that allows us to analyse in-game behaviour. This gives us a lot of opportunity to shape our future game development and create games that players want to play, and ensure they play responsibly.

What strikes me about this industry is that it faces similar challenges to the retail industry. If you think of grocery stores, they range different products and brands and there are multiple companies fighting over a limited number of customers. In iGaming, we have different games and studios, but the challenge remains the same of how to develop a range of content to appeal to your customer base and ultimately retain and engage players.

Tell us about how game brands attract and retain players. What is the data showing you?

One thing we track are our players’ favourite games. There is no surprise that Rainbow Riches is up there with its mass appeal, but we also see several of our big brands such as Monopoly, Jin Ji Bao Xi, 88 Fortunes, Raging Rhino and Spartacus appeal strongly to the high value segment of players.

Do we see much player loyalty within our franchises?

NATHAN: If you look at our brands overall, they have a player penetration of 30% – so almost 1 in 3 players play those brands. What is interesting to me is the number of game rounds that are played. I think this is a good indication of how popular a game is. Looking at the number of spins is a simple metric, but demonstrates that players are enjoying the game and the features. Jin Ji Bau Xi and Spartacus lead the way in terms of player commitment.

What about regional differences? Do we see any changes in behaviour there?

JJBX and Spartacus perform really well across Europe and Jin Ji Bao Xi has particularly high rounds per player which tells us that players picking up the game really enjoy it. Interestingly for me, when you look at New Jersey, our brands are attracting particularly high penetration and a high number of game rounds.

One of the things that strikes me is the sheer volume of data we have. Tell us about some of the challenges you are facing in order to manage it all.

I am sure that many people reading this will be either consumers of data or, like me, look after data. They’ll know it’s not easy to get a data-led strategy off the ground so

first and foremost, we need the right people and we’re currently bringing in new skills into the business.

A challenge we have is that we have lots of pockets of data. We’re currently going through a process now of combining this into one place that will allow us to have a more complete view.

Finally, the size of the data itself means it creates challenges around efficiencies and the analysis you can serve up to the business. Currently we’re re-architecting our database which will allow us to output richer insights, in a more efficient way.

HUW: All this sounds fantastic. Can you explain how SG Digital’s customers will benefit from this?

NATHAN: There are 3 things that we are focussing on at a high level and that will drive value for SG Digital and our customers’ businesses.

Firstly, we are using our insights to make better games. We are starting to understand how players engage with games and the features within them. This will mean our customers and players have better playing experiences.

Secondly, we want to use our data to improve our customers’ businesses, this is something I feel passionately about and have a lot of experience in. There is a mutual benefit to creating a better experience for our players. To achieve this, we’re moving to be a data lead business and have data level relationships with our customers. We’re currently addressing the balance within our business so that our people have more data at their fingertips and in a format that is accessible so that they can spend more time with customers understanding it and what impact it has on their business and players. We are also ensuring that we’re always using data to improve player experience and that we are closing the loop by constantly analysing the impact of our decisions and feeding that back into to our future plans.

The third area we are focussing on is an ambition for the longer term. We would like to be able to share our data in a secure way with our customers. Obviously, we have a lot of challenges to overcome to get to that point but our customers should be able to benefit from this powerful data so we can both provide the best experience for players.

Most importantly though, data provides an extremely powerful tool in creating and managing responsible player experiences and this is a key area that we at SG Digital remain committed to learning from and enhancing.

To understand more about SG Digital’s plans for their data and how it could benefit player experience, please contact