Internationally recognized as a world-class entertainment and lifestyle brand, Hard Rock International has venues across 74 countries, including 179 cafes, 24 hotels and 11 casinos. As a leading entertainment and leisure company, Hard Rock is known for delivering guests a one-of-a-kind, immersive experience when they enter a brick-and-mortar location.

Casinos are constantly looking for opportunities to increase and deepen brand affiliation, and Hard Rock is no exception. Working in collaboration with game developer Ilyon Dynamics, Hard Rock International has created and launched Puzzle Match—the brand’s first official mobile game, to be played socially by customers while visiting company hotels, casinos, cafes, live music venues and other land-based locations.

Kresimir Spajic, senior vice president of online gaming for Hard Rock International, took some time to talk with Casino Journal Associate Editor Joan Mantini about their recent collaboration with Ilyon Dynamics, and what this new mobile app has offered thus far for their brand.  Below is what Spajic had to say:

Why did Hard Rock International collaborate with Ilyon Dynamics in the launch of its new mobile app?

Spajic: Hard Rock has always been a pioneering company, delivering products for the varied aspects of life—work, play and personal sanctuary—and with Ilyon, Hard Rock has worked closely with their skilled and highly-specialized team to develop a game that will ultimately help boost Hard Rock sales and marketing efforts.

Hard Rock uses technology to give the company a competitive advantage in every aspect of its business, and working with Ilyon on this project is another very strong example of this. Building amazing and captivating gaming experiences is very challenging, but Ilyon’s game development team has a proven track record of building out highly engaging, challenging and entertaining games. When Hard Rock decided to build a casual-mobile game, the brand vetted several companies and found the right collaboration with Ilyon.

Can you tell me the basics of Hard Rock Puzzle Match and what makes it different from other mobile gaming aps?

Spajic: Hard Rock Puzzle Match allows players to work their way through challenging levels and puzzles in order to complete their Hard Rock memorabilia collections while exploring famous Hard Rock landmarks and locations from London to Las Vegas, New Delhi and Barcelona. Each city has a special set of cards that need to be completed, offering players the opportunity to learn about each location in the process.

What sets Hard Rock Puzzle Match apart of other mobile games is that it creates a genuine and authentic experience that represents the Hard Rock brand while being engaging and fun at the same time. Music is Hard Rock’s differentiator and the Hard Rock Puzzle Match game provides this unique experience to the loyal fans in order to complete their Hard Rock memorabilia collections that can actually be found in real Hard Rock locations across the globe.

Has the game been successful in bringing new mobile customers to hotels, casinos, cafes and live music venues? How is this being tracked? What age group/demographics do you notice to be the most common users?

Spajic: Hard Rock Puzzle Match is available globally through Apple and Google stores in more than 150 countries across the globe, allowing the brand to reach consumers beyond current land-based penetration. This mobile game has helped Hard Rock to expand its brand visibility, awareness and affinity across the globe, even in locations where it’s hard for us to expand our footprint due to various barriers. In such a way, players get a better feel of the Hard Rock brand when playing the game, which we hope will ultimately incentivize them to visit Hard Rock properties.

Hard Rock is currently in the process of gathering the game’s demographics. Based on the feedback we’ve received thus far, we aim to build an in-game loyalty program that we hope will drive a desire amongst players to visit Hard Rock properties, such as through possible discounts, opportunities to win concert tickets and more.

How is the game being promoted at your properties?

Spajic: We are in the initial launch phase now, so while it’s not promoted on-site, we are hoping to start sharing soon with the properties and their guests.

Has the outcome thus far been as anticipated?

Spajic: The collaboration between Hard Rock and Ilyon has resulted in a unique, engaging and fun game that according to our online impressions, hundreds of thousands of users have enjoyed since the game was launched in the beginning of September 2017. The game was even featured on both Apple and Google stores, which is huge for the brand.

What are your future plans to keep players engaged?

Spajic: Together, both Hard Rock and Ilyon are very interested in updating and adding more content to the game in the near future. At this time, we have a clear vision of the new features, challenges and other updates that will enhance the user’s gaming experience, such as adding more Hard Rock content—like new memorabilia items, in-game events and special social features, enabling users to create a memorabilia marketplace in-game. Additionally, we have plans to connect the online and offline experience of Hard Rock, connecting users to the real Hard Rock branches.

Overall, we are thrilled about the future of Hard Rock Puzzle Match and look forward to continuing building our gaming roadmap.