State of play: three predictions for 2023

I recently spoke with Gambling News about how to survive and thrive as a gaming startup in the coming year. However, as 2022 draws to a close, it’s also essential to consider the context, or state of play, in which you operate.

So, in the spirit of taking the time over the festive period to think about the upcoming year, here are my three key broader predictions for 2023.

Moving closer to profitability 

The world of startup investing has changed drastically over the past 12 months. And that’s an understatement, to say the least. As the economic crisis has tightened its grip, investors’ risk appetite has drastically declined. As a startup in 2023, it’s not enough just to show the promise of prosperity. You need to be walking on the path to profitability already.

From my discussion with other startups, investors and entrepreneurs inside and outside our industry, I can say with certainty investors’ focus on profitability is only set to increase in the coming year. So now more than ever, it’s important to focus on the elements that will get you there. 

As mentioned before, at St8, we’ve paid close attention to reducing technical debt and increasing scalability. In turn, this means we can focus on delivering on the unique needs of our partners. It sounds simple, right? But that’s St8’s secret sauce in our recipe for growth. 

Function over form

A lot of the prediction pieces you’ll likely read this year will highlight the narrative of emerging tech in 2023. These articles usually rave about the latest AR, VR or Web3 development, which is, in the author’s opinion, going to be the hottest thing on the market that year. The thing is, they rarely are.

At St8 we’re always advocating for emerging tech. You’ll find me championing various crypto projects and Blockchain for its speed and security since its early days. However, I often think these predictions miss the mark. Stuffed with buzzwords, they create unnecessary hype and fail to recognise the essence of their potential success.

Ultimately, success always comes down to utility. Take the very recent example of the explosion of interest in ChatGPT. This demonstrates the unlimited capabilities that can be achieved in the upcoming year by utilising AI in the right way.

So, in 2023, driven by the wider economic situation, I predict a refocus on what value you bring to the table. New developments in our industry will be more strenuously evaluated for their function over form. Like investors striving for profitability, conscious customers and clients want more bang – not buzz – for their buck.  

People power

If we’re to see more of the market conditions from 2022 in 2023 (which, according to the EU Commission’s forecast, we are), you’ll need the right people around you to get to profitability and beyond. There are no two ways about that. 

However, swathes of layoffs in tech have also seen teams having to do much more with much less. And this is a trend that the iGaming industry isn’t immune to. IGB’s senior reporter, Marese O’Hagan, penned a piece on this subject only a few weeks ago.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here, what we’ve found at St8 that keeping the team nimble has made us work with laser-focus and accel where’s it’s needed, when it’s needed. Instead of doing lots of things to an ok level, we’re doing a handful to the best of our ability. And, with one clear goal – to sustainably build St8 so we can deliver the best for our partners. 

And it’s fair to say the team’s efforts have paid off. In April, we started our journey with one operator and about 100 daily actives. Now, at the time of writing in December, St8 serves around two dozen operators serving over 30,000 daily actives powered by nearly 40 integrations in categories like slots, live casino games, crash and sportsbooks.

Ultimately, our approach means we can provide a valuable partnership for well-established game providers and newer names in the industry. What’s more, as a startup with a firm belief in the power of people, our team is always on the lookout for opportunities to help showcase rising stars’ content.

So as the landscape shifts in 2023, I imagine this focused approach will be adopted more broadly in our industry and beyond. After all, you can’t negotiate on the value of your team.