It was one of the worst-kept secrets in online bingo history, but today the brand new Heart Bingo website was finally launched, with Olly Murs as the new face of the brand.
I say worst-kept secret simply because we all knew that a new bingo site that opened back in July, H Bingo, really was the new Heart Bingo all along, simply waiting for it's moment for the Gamesys contract to expire before it could say anything about it!
Olly's Welcome Message
Visiting the new Heart Bingo website today you'll be greeted by singing sensation Olly Murs, who gives the low-down on the new site:
But why did Heart Bingo leave Gamesys in the first place?
Gamesys have been a long-term partner with Global, running the Heart Bingo and Smooth Bingo brands for many years. However, their contract was up for renewal this year and the two parties simply could not agree on a new deal.
So Global started looking around in the market and even asked me for my opinion during that research stage. I did tell them I was very impressed with the Pragmatic offering, but if it were up to me I would stick with Gamesys!
Ultimately they made the decision to move, with BetVictor taking stewardship of the brand having only just added bingo to their own site a few months prior. It may have seemed like an unusual choice, but it makes more sense when you discover that the owner of BetVictor, Michael Tabor, is the father of Ashley Tabor, founder and president of Global.
See, it all makes sense now!
Despite my initial reservations on the change, I've been impressed with how they've pulled this move off. Especially after witnessing another high profile software move this year already when Gala moved from Playtech. The complaints about this move have been relatively mute in comparison.
Heart Bingo's big problem
The big problem for Heart Bingo was that under their deal with Gamesys, they did not own the player accounts, meaning when they left, Gamesys kept all the players. The new Heart Bingo would have to start completely from scratch and ask players to sign up again.
Thanks to the shrewd move of soft launching as H Bingo a few months in advance, they were able to build up a player base before the big day, and of course the players from all the networked rooms help to give the site a busy atmosphere and lots of choice on launch day.
So what did Gamesys do with all those Heart player accounts? They launched their own new site to take it's place - Double Bubble Bingo.
The battle with Double Bubble Bingo
It has been interesting to see this battle play out between Global and their desire to launch the new Heart, and Gamesys looking to keep all those existing Heart players. While Global / BetVictor were contractually obliged to remain quiet, Gamesys had no such issues.
A few weeks ago they effectively re-skinned their version of Heart, changing the background and logo to the new name of Double Bubble Bingo. Existing Heart players could login with the same username and passwords, all the same games would be there and their same balances.
So unlike the recent move of Gala, where players had no choice but to move to the new software, here players could actually just stick with Double Bubble Bingo if they didn't like the new Heart, and carry on as before. It's probably meant a hell of a lot less complaints from players today at launch.
It will be very interesting to see how these two brands move forward and grow. Will it be Gamesys or Global who eventually regret not coming to an agreement, or will both be better off with their respective new brands?
Time will tell.