One other thing that’s caught my attention as well the last couple of weeks is the movement of sites from the St Minver network to Virtue Fusion. Rather than throw it in with the other rash of stories in the last post, it’s something I wanted to look at in a bit more detail, given the defection of two major brands from St Minver to Virtue Fusion.
In the earlier days of this site, I was a big fan of the St Minver network and their bingo offering, but recently that liking has turned firstly to indifference and then to annoyance. The network has a number of big brands on its books, but it would seem my dissatisfaction is shared and has led to some of these brands defecting to Virtue Fusion. I can’t blame them, and part of my reasoning for this comes from my perspective behind the scenes as an affiliate with St Minver and Virtue Fusion. As such I get an idea of the length of time people tend to spend at the St Minver sites compared to other big networks and sites, and it’s not good. If players aren’t staying, then they’re not making money for the brands who have St Minver run their bingo sites.
Despite these big brands such as Littlewoods, Castle Bingo, Virgin and more, the sites never seem to instil the same sort of loyalty as sites on networks like Virtue Fusion. I put this down to a number of things, but one of the main ones has been St Minver’s instance on not expanding out their offering to players. For a long time there was only one room to play in (now 3 – all 90 ball), and the range of games within these rooms would change too much. Whilst places like Foxy and Gala expanded the number of rooms and styles of game that could be played, St Minver have avoided such an approach, much to their detriment.
As a player I like rooms where I know prices for tickets and players will be fairly constant, but St Minver’s schedule would see all sorts of game types and pricing models take centre stage. If you compare this with the likes of Virtue Fusion (and other networks like Globalcom), where multiple rooms with various types of bingo can be played, it’s easy to see the attraction to players of these other networks and sites.
And it’s not just the players being attracted away from St Minver, it’s their brands. Virgin and now Shipley’s Bingo are both making the move, and I fear that if St Minver doesn’t change the way it works, it will lose even more of its brands. If it wants to succeed then it needs to drastically improve the type of bingo it’s offering. More rooms, more styles of bingo and improved terms and conditions would be a good start in my opinion.
It does have some great things going for it. The brands it still manages are pretty strong, and it’s running the excellent Parlay software, which for my money still beats the Virtue Fusion software in terms of looks and functionality. But that’s not enough in the current market. St Minver skins are quickly looking dated and unappealing alongside big brands like Foxy, Tombola, Gala and Mecca. Certainly as a player I avoid them, and I’m certain I’m not alone in that opinion.
Virtue Fusion is well placed to be the network that UK bingo sites aspire to be a part of. Its catalogue of brands and operators is both massive and impressive. It’s software, whilst not quite up there with Parlay is certainly one of the top 3 available. As well is its position in the market place, Virtue Fusion is also my preferred network for UK bingo. Heck, at this moment even Globalcom seems to be doing better than St Minver, which is saying something given it’s previous low position in my esteem. That means here at least, a lot’s got to change before St Minver are back up there in my estimations.