We recently had a rather enlightening and entertaining interview with Matej Sopóci, CPO at SYNOT Games, one of the leading iGaming developers in the industry, where we discussed a long list of captivating subjects including regulatory challenges, milestones, the future of AI in the industry, and much, much more.
Since being a CPO requires balancing between technology, business, and user experience, your job position is involved in three of the most important aspects of the company. Which of the three do you find the most challenging when creating the right product strategy?
Everyone has their own way of looking at it. I think the most important and most difficult part is user experience, to make sure the users are happy and there’s a clear sense of direction. Next is the technology, which everything is built on. That is in the hands of experts, and I just make sure that anything new that comes our way is feasible to our solution. And business? If everything else works as it should, there will be business.
Considering that the iGaming vertical is constantly under scrutiny, and as such, subject to frequent gambling regulations, it can be quite a challenge to promote a certain product. Do gambling regulations and gambling restrictions affect your job as a product manager, and if so, how?
Yes. We try to accommodate each product to as many markets as possible because we want to provide the same portfolio across the board. However, because of regulations that is not always possible. I’ll give a recent example. One of our games did not comply with local regulations because it is not played on lines. Who would have thought that would be a problem 😀.
While we are on the subject of gambling regulations and developing marketing strategies, are there any particular gambling markets, i.e. demographics that you find more restrictive than others?
In my experience, the most restrictive are Italy, Czechia and most recently also Germany.
Matej Sopóci, as a CPO at one of the leading iGaming developers in the business, SYNOT Games, you are constantly in communication with internal teams of specialists, such as developers, marketers, researchers, etc. How important is team synchronization when coming up with the right product strategy?
Team synchronization is crucial. If there is a clear goal in sight (defining one is often the larger issue 😀), we will find the right way to approach it.
Let’s stay with SYNOT Games for a bit. The company recently celebrated several milestones this year – 100 completed games and its 7th birthday. What can we expect to see in the recent future from SYNOT Games?
Maybe it doesn’t sound like much, but we release 2 games a month and I’m excited for each one of them. We have a team of experts who always aim to forego any issues, but if there are any, they do their best to solve them as soon as possible. And next year we will celebrate our 8th!😀
What would you say are the highlights of SYNOT Games’ Q3/Q4 roadmap? Are there any games the players should watch out for?
It is very hard to pick one, each game has something fun going. All of the games set for Q3 are great, otherwise, they wouldn’t have been picked. But if I had to choose, it would be Lucky 77 and Winfrey’s Treasures. In Q4, there is a clear winner – Thirsty Viking; our stand at ICE 2023 was also “dressed” in the same vein. And we have a amazing game in store for Christmas – Heaven Mania!
Your job entails prioritizing and gathering customer requirements in order to create winning products, as well as being up-to-date on all the latest developments in order to achieve the desired outcome. What are some of the most effective means that you use to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest happenings in your field of work (social media, media outlets, etc)?
There is a lot that contributes to the information-gathering process. Exhibitions like ICE or other, smaller ones are very helpful in finding out what it is the customer wants. And of course, customers themselves, very often unknowingly, give us lots of ideas.
Part of being a successful product manager also requires exceptional attention to detail, superb communication skills, and overall excellent knowledge about the market and the latest industry trends. What do you feel are the most important skills that a top-tier product manager should have in order to be good at his job?
Exactly as you said – attention to detail is key to this job. Everything else can be learned or improved upon relatively quickly.
Speaking on the duties of a product manager, from your own personal experience, what are some of the biggest challenges that you face in your line of work?
Deciding where and when to release which games. Do we go with everything at once or release them one by one? What bets to set, … a lot of minutes details that need careful consideration before making the final call. Like giving answers to an interview 😀
Matej, can you tell us what inspired you to enter the world of iGaming? Is this your first venture as a product manager, and if not, could you tell us a bit about the difference between working as a product manager in the iGaming industry and other industries?
Before, I briefly worked in retail in a sales position. But I was bored and was searching for a more meaningful job until I stumbled upon an offer at SYNOT Games 7 years ago. Of course, I did not begin as a Product Manager, but I worked my way up from a Tester position. The advantage of working in iGaming is that it is constantly evolving, be it new markets or, as we already mentioned, new regulations. You always have to be alert and aware of what goes on in the world around you. That is also true for brick-and-mortar stores but your job is often confined to a few square meters.
Let’s go a bit into the future. In light of the ever-growing popularity and use of ChatGPT and Ai across all business verticals, where do you see product managers 5 years from now? Do you feel that AI can make the lives of product managers easier, or the contrary?
AI definitely has a place in our lives. I can already see opportunities for its use to make things easier or faster, whether in my personal or professional life. But I don’t want to jump ahead of myself, I’d rather wait it out and see when and how AI integrates into our lives.
Lastly, what would you tell young and aspiring product managers who want to enter this line of work? Are there any particular tips or advice that you would like to share?
I might not be the right person or old enough even to answer this 😀 but here goes: don’t be afraid and always speak your mind.