MEET MARKUS SÖDERLUND, HEAD OF THE MATCH ENGINE

By Tomas Nordström

13 October 2016

For eight years, he was part of building a betting company from scratch into a billion dollar business. Last year, he embarked on his next big adventure, Gold Town Games. Meet Markus Söderlund, and learn about what made him join us, how betting can be used in mobile games and what makes the match engine in World Hockey Manager unique.

You have been with Gold Town Games for almost a year now, how do you like it so far?

– It has been great. The company has developed a lot during this period, so it has been very inspiring coming to work every day.

Speaking of development, you were part of quite a journey at your last place of work.

– Yes, nine years ago, I worked for Expekt (betting company) and a group of us left to start Betway. During the eight years that followed, we turned the company from a small business, with only a few employees, into the multi billion dollar company with thousands of employees they are today.

Which was your role at Betway?

– From the beginning, it was mostly calculating odds, but through the years I have been managing the development of systems and structure in the company. A few years back I had the opportunity to lead Betway’s venture into E-sports, which is now a huge market in gaming and we have probably only seen the beginning of it so far.

– I love it when new ideas take off.

So GTG must suit you perfectly?

– Yes, as a matter of fact. I have my roots here in Skellefteå and I was here on vacation when I first heard about GTG. I got in touch and an interview later, I was offered a job and I felt it was an opportunity too good to miss.

– I saw it as a unique chance to do something I am very passionate about and at the same time be part of something from the very beginning again. I think I have a lot to contribute to the company and I am also interested in the challenge of bringing betting into this genre of games.

How do you see betting being used in World Hockey Manager?

– Betting and sports have always gone hand in hand, there is a natural connection, and I see great potential in offering something new to these kinds of games. It would also further enhance the social feature of the game if you for example can bet on your friends’ matches.

– Our primary focus today is to create a match engine that delivers believable results. A betting function may well become relevant later on, when we have a solid platform, a strong user base and there is a logical implementation in the game design, but all will be thoroughly tested on our users before building such a feature into the game.

What is the status of the match engine today?

– Right now we are down to fine tuning and bug fixing. It has been developed a lot and become more and more advance since the first blueprints. The biggest challenges have been to translate all statistics to reflect a real hockeý match. The more components there are to a match result, the more balancing is needed, but I am very happy with the match engine we have today.

What are the strengths of our match engine?

– It is detailed at very high level. Every little thing, such as tactical moves and qualities in a player in different situations, will matter. We have worked really hard with the tactical parts, for example by bringing in the SHL-players Jimmie Ericsson and Erik Forssell as consultants, to create tactics that are similar to reality.

Do you have to be a hockey expert to make it in the game?

– No, absolutely not. The game is easy to get into from the beginning and you also have a coach to assist you. At the same time, there is a high skillcap for those who really want to get in the game and test their knowledge. This game has something for everybody. You might have a small advantage if you have played hockey yourself, when it comes to forming your special teams and choosing tactics in the offence and defence.

We are alpha testing the game right now, how is it coming along?

– The alpha testing is more focused on navigating in the app, than on the actual matches, but we have started a league here at the office to our great amusement. I am sure we will bring joy to a lot of other work places and groups of friends once the game is launched.

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