What's happened to Gala Bingo?
Last year when Entain moved their Ladbrokes Bingo and Coral Bingo brands over to their Electraworks bingo platform, I did wonder whether or not they would ever consider moving Gala Bingo over too. From a business perspective it makes perfect sense. Why pay a company like Playtech to run and build your bingo games when you have your own bingo software company in-house?
However, I originally believed that they would never do it, simply because Gala has too many players, Playtech offered too many unique games, and any big change like this could lead to a mass exodus of unhappy players. I've seen it time and time again in this industry; each time a big site moves software, players are never happy about it.
But my prediction was wrong. Gala have today moved away from Playtech/VirtueFusion and made the bold step of relaunching their entire portfolio of bingo rooms on Electraworks software.
So what's different?
Gala have clearly been preparing for this moment for a long time. A huge amount of work looks to have gone in to ensuring every game that was unique to the original Gala has a version on the new software. Just from playing the site on reopening day I can see they've still got:
- Corrie Bingo
- TV Specials
- Coconut Island
- Bingo Beats
- Deal or No Deal Bingo
- Fluffy Favourites Bingo
- 75 Ball
- 80 Ball
- Cashpot Bingo
- Main Event
Considering so many of these variants, including the session bingo in Main Event, are brand new to Electraworks - it's absolutely wild that they had the ambition to even pull this off. They've basically just launched half a dozen brand new variants to the public in a single day.
Some of the rooms are almost identical to their predecessor, but some are vastly different.
Take Coconut Island for example, the old room had a little palm tree with the balls falling as coconuts. The new version has none of that and is basically just a bingo room with the Coconut Island logo in the background.
The new version of Deal or No Deal Bingo on the other hand looks amazing, but it is also themed on the US version of the show. So if you're a fan of Noel Edmonds you may be disappointed.
Why have Gala moved away from Playtech?
Only Gala's owners Entain know for sure, but as I mentioned earlier they do own their own bingo software platform so it does seem a bit daft that they wouldn't want to put all their bingo brands on that software.
Not only could it lower costs, but it gives them 100% control over all of the game development. Previously Gala would have had to share Playtech's development resources with the likes of Buzz Bingo, Mecca Bingo, Paddy Power and Sky Bingo to name but a few. Now, Gala can simply move ahead and create whatever they want without having to negotiate with an outside company.
For those of you who may have seen my original news story from earlier this week, I did make a prediction that Gala would be leaving Playtech this week, based on one or two signs such as pre-buy being "down for maintenance" all week - but Gala asked me to take the story down. I don't normally like operators telling me what to do on my own site, but I did make an exception and removed the story given Gala's choice not to inform their players in advance of the move.
Not all of my predictions were correct. I never expected all of Gala's unique rooms to be available on day one! What an effort that must have been to do.
The only criticism I have of the move has been the way they kept it secret from the players. From what I've read in the chat today I've seen quite a few upset that it happened without any consultation or even explanation as to why. I once managed a free bingo site that needed a complete software change. We involved players early on, explained why it needed to happen, what the benefits to them would be, and when the time came although there were some unhappy with the changes, most were supportive and helped report bugs, etc.
What has been the player reaction?
It's only a few hours into launch when I'm writing this, so naturally there are many players saying they hate it and they'll never play again, yadda yadda. However, I've seen this all before and the site isn't going to change back and players will eventually get used to it. Gala will probably lose some players, but in time they'll build back again and it's expected to happen.
There are plenty of Playtech bingo sites to choose from if players still are adamant they're done with Gala now.
However, I think in time there will be plenty of players who will get used to the new software and it will be very interesting to see what Gala do with it next. The platform has a number of games that Gala currently don't have, such as Friends Bingo, that they could easily switch on, and no doubt they have plans to link together with their sister sites in the same way they did on the Playtech network.