“Thumos/thymos – a word sometimes used to express the human desire for acceptance or recognition.”
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher who made some very interested observations on reality and more specifically, the reality of humans. In a time before Marxism, Hegel boiled all psychological driving factors down to three categories – desire, reason and thymos.
Essentially we do things for any one of those three different reasons. Either you want to do something, you think it’s the best way to do something or you do something because it will lead to acceptance or recognition by your peers. How often each of these reasons are the sole driver behind an action or series or actions probably says quite a lot about a person and also will provide a significant predictor of future success. Of course, all people regularly use a mix of all three without giving the reasoning behind it a moment’s thought. But it’s this last category that is most interesting. While the others are fairly obvious, doing something for thymos – which could easily be rephrased as simply showing off – is something that could be considered a negative trait if employed in excess.
In the highly competitive industry it would appear that in the iGaming industry thymos is in no short supply. While companies obviously need to big themselves up in order to attract partners, investors or customers, the extent to which this sometimes goes can be extreme. While not necessarily one of the more extreme ways, a indicator of the high levels of desire for recognition within online gambling can be seen in the number of different awards that are handed out around the calendar.
Much in the same way a poker player might brag about a big win to their friends, companies enjoy the recognition that comes with being named ‘The Best of the Year’. But do the winners of these awards really reap major benefits? And can the same be said for all of the different companies in the iGaming space?
An Award for Every Season
As anyone who has worked or even just browsed a few gambling sites will see, there’s always plenty of awards to go around. For an industry that’s so small this large number of different awards must appear strange from those in other sectors.
Among the bigger awards there are the eGR Operator Awards, eGR B2B Awards, IGB Affiliate Awards, International Gaming Awards plus online awards such as those handed out by Casinomeister and Gambling Magazine. On top of all of those there are also regional awards plus probably a whole load more that the majority of us don’t even know about. But even that’s not all of it. Then you have the various ranking systems. Top 50’s, Power 50’s, Hot 50’s – there are so many different 50’s that there needs to be a ranking system just to keep track of them.
Most of these top 50 lists tend to rank individual people, doing a world of good for their thymos and also helping their companies to look good by association. It may also serve as a risk for these companies with recruiters and headhunters being alerted to talent that they weren’t previously aware of. But to see whether these awards really offer anything to their holders, the types of companies that collect them need to be split up. In a rough, broad way this splitting can be done by introducing three categories – B2B, operators and affiliates.
As a B2B company, the real value of gaining an award is hoping that potential clients within the industry will recognise that you’re doing a stand-up job and subsequently take on some of your services.
However, in an industry as small as iGaming, potential clients should already know everything they need to know about you. If they don’t then they’re not very good at their job or you’re not very good at yours. The majority of services companies that win at these awards are brands that anyone who works in iGaming would need to be in possession of an abode under a rock in order to not be aware of them.
Companies such as Skrill, Playtech, Net Entertainment, Netrefer aren’t exactly hidden gems. Plus for the one set of awards which is specifically geared to these companies – the eGR B2B Awards – the fact that the event is filled with competitors rather than potential clients means that the lasting impression on those witnessing won’t be of a desire to sign up to the award-winning services.
Except for in the case of PokerStrategy, operators tend to be the largest and often wealthiest B2C companies in iGaming with large corporations often backing them. As a result, the only real benefit they stand to gain from winning an award is to tell potential customers that their deemed ‘the best’. The fact that many marketing campaigns and sites themselves do mention the awards won shows that such titles are as much of a marketing ploy as anything else. But rather than traditional marketing ploys where you have to pay out in order to attract new customers, the receiving of an award is free – right?
There are often grumbles about the processes through which awards are decided and given the nature of the companies running the awards it’s always going to be tough for them to convince everyone that their awards are completely fair. The fact that companies that tend to win awards often have taken out considerable advertising space in a magazine or have booked numerous tables for the awards ceremony itself is hopefully just a coincidence.
iGaming Business is one company that appears to be recognising this as they are planning to have an overhaul of their Affiliate Awards for next year with the plan to make the final award decision process much more transparent.
The final category of companies is often made up of the smallest companies in the iGaming industry. Far from corporate powerhouses, many successful affiliates are still just one man bands with a small army of freelance workers helping to get the everyday jobs done. For these guys, particular those who are new in the business, going to an awards ceremony is quite an event and, especially if you’re offered a free ticket, is a very enjoyable night out. However, winning an award may not be the blessing that it first appears to be.
While new affiliates may see it as a validation of the work they’ve been doing or simply enjoy the recognition, standing out as an affiliate has one major drawback – other affiliates are bound to see what you’re doing so well. That’s human nature and if others adapt your initial idea to their uses or perhaps even improve on it, you can wave goodbye to your USP.