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Anne Lindner

Q & A: Paul Barnes, Access Gaming Systems

22 May 2003

Paul Barnes is the vice president of sales and marketing for Access Gaming Systems (Europe) Ltd., a gambling software developer located in Ireland. Barnes recently talked with IGN about Xenia, his group's newest gaming product and the successor to ACES 4.4. Xenia is Java-based and supports multi-player games, multi-lingual sites and multi-currency purses.

IGN: What precipitated the need for a successor to ACES 4.4?

PJB: The ACES series first appeared in 1996 when we hosted several versions of a "play-for-fun" casino for Tattersall's in Australia. In 1996 many of the technologies, standards and software parts that are now either common (e.g. XML) or emerging and exciting did not exist and had to be implemented by AGS. ACES in parallel was subjected to five separate certification processes in Australia (two in Queensland, Northern Territory, Tasmania and ACT).

In addition, ACES was installed at government-licensed sites in Holland, France, Germany and Austria, as well as being sold to two customers in the United States. In summary, ACES became the most secure, certified and respected product in the land-based regulated market, but, while AGS was concentrating on the extremely expensive business of protecting our customers' brands and reputation through implementation of stringent regulations and player protection, our competitors, not being subject to the same regulatory constraints, and who were raking in the money in offshore locations, managed to implement some player-interface features which ACES lacked.

In designing Xenia, we decided to kill two birds with one stone. One, retain the intellectual property, functionality and know-how gained from our experience in the regulated market, and two, leap-frog our competitors with new leading-edge technology offering licensed lotto and casino operators a new paradigm in openness, flexibility, scalability and cost.

IGN: What input from clients did you use when creating Xenia?

PJB: We formally requested and received input from all our customers when we embarked on Xenia about two years ago. Some of this was in written form and some gleaned informally from our account managers. Given that our customers are both lottery and casino operators, the nature of the requests was different.

For example, one of our lottery customers was very keen on having Flash games and the ability to allow players to register and play without any download. One of our casino customers wanted improvements in the area of promotions and multi-player games (e.g. poker, roulette etc.).

IGN: What did you use from your experience in Australia, Europe and the Americas in creating Xenia?

PJB: Thousands of pages of regulatory adherence documentation! Experience in how to handle online games with fundamental differences in behavior on the same platform, e.g. instant lotto and casino games without large game-play peaks and variance on the same platform as draw lotto and sports betting games subject to weekly event based peak usage. Experience with third-party game developers working on an open content platform. Experience with external consulting organizations and what they demand for product certification. We learned how to reduce the cost of implementation and cost of ownership for shipping an online gaming site adhering to the highest regulatory standards. We learned how to offer games over multiple channels, e.g. iTV in France

IGN: What are some examples of ways costs are reduced for customers who use Xenia?

PJB: We have eliminated third-party products with the exception of the database. We have written the core system exclusively in Java, allowing a reduction in skills required when the customers want to add their own modules and functions. We have made Xenia multi-platform, allowing our customers to choose different hardware and different operating systems from Unix through "Wintel." We have achieved near-linear scalability via a multi-tier architecture, allowing the addition of new processing power at a low cost.

Xenia is easy to install and easy to interface to external legacy systems. This allows our customers to produce unique operational system solutions with Xenia as the core without costly integration of multiple external solutions. In this way, they gain competitive advantage, which increases their bottom line by increasing their revenues. By having easy access to open interfaces, customers can leverage their own hard-won intellectual property into the Xenia-based system, thus increasing the overall organizational productivity.

IGN: What about the program will be attractive to players?

PJB: AGS has produced an excellent suite of standard Java and Flash single- and multi-player lotto and casino games, and have retained all the player-protection features of the ACES series. However, because the games interfaces are fully open, the operator can offer any casino or lottery game they want, especially well known branded content found in their land based establishments. This allows an organization like a casino to cross-brand game content with its own land-based outlets. The promotions and marketing features of Xenia allow player activity and preferences to be monitored and acted upon which of course allows the operator to make them feel entertained and at home, which brings us back to the name "Xenia"--Greek for entertainment and hospitality!

Q & A: Paul Barnes, Access Gaming Systems is republished from
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner