Taiwanese cutting-edge game developer believes that its customers' interests must come first

Taiwan-based Astro Corp is a world-leading manufacturer of gaming PCBs and video slot machines. 

The company was set up in 1993 by its president, Arden Yang, and since then its growth has been spectacular. In 2004, Astro Corp was listed on Taisdaq, becoming the first Taiwanese amusement and gaming company to ‘go public.’

Astro Corp now has a workforce of 376 people, a network of six distributors and supplies to over 50 countries. The company has also impressively made the Forbes 100 fastest growing companies under $1bn - twice.

Astro Corp’s early products were reel slots, but by 1998 the company had redirected its efforts towards video. Recognising the potential in this technology, the first releases were low-resolution CGA video slot and video poker games for the amusement and gaming markets.

Astro Corp’s strategy of investing heavily in development saw the release of a stream of new and more advanced products to meet the requirements of international markets. Sean Chang, senior vice president, and Simon Herbert, CEO International, share Arden Yang’s passionate belief that the customers’ interests must come first. 

Simon Herbert explained: “We believe in focusing closely on the exact needs of individual markets. Our entire structure reflects this philosophy and we have development teams specialising in specific markets.

“The teams work closely with the customers and, in time, become experts in player preferences, legislation and all factors relevant to individual markets. This approach takes the ‘hit and miss’ out of product development, enabling us to get it right first time and achieve impressive product to market speeds.”

The strategy of immersion in its territories has put Astro Corp into pole position for Italy’s recent AWP boom and has reaped rewards in Spain, where one of the top earning games, Blackbeard, was developed locally.

A ‘can do’ approach to product development has led Astro Corp along some interesting paths. This is well illustrated by the company’s Paradise cabinet. Developed specifically for the Philippines, this cabinet has three screens, permitting play on slots and live games simultaneously.

Perhaps the most striking features of Astro Corp’s games are the stunning graphics. According to Simon Herbert, Astro Corp is fundamentally about its games. “The outstanding quality of our graphics draws the player into the game and the second and third features are virtual environments where the player becomes an active participant. It’s a totally absorbing and very exciting experience.”

For a company renowned for technical innovation and product development, Astro Corp is refreshingly aware of its responsibilities to the community and industry in general. In February 2009, the company hosted the first Taiwan Gaming Symposium.

In January 2009, the Taiwanese Parliament approved gaming in a bid to grow revenues from tourism development on the off-shore islands of Penghu. The Taiwanese authorities are concerned that foreign regulatory and policy models may not be totally appropriate for the Taiwanese casino industry and have been keen to promote debate.

The symposium was set up in association with Taiwan Economic News to enable Astro Corp to share its experience with several ministers and other senior officials.

High on the agenda was Astro Corp’s experience of working with regulators in overseas markets, plus an update on the latest gaming technology.

In its home country Astro Corp is regarded as a very prestigious employer. The company invests heavily in the development and training of its people. Some training courses are run in conjunction with the Taiwanese Government.

Such is the desire for a career at Astro Corp, that competitions are run at local universities where the top prize is a guaranteed place at Astro Corp upon graduation.

Recently, Astro Corp was accepted into the prestigious Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers. Commenting on the AGEM board of directors’ unanimous vote, Simon Herbert said: “Astro Corp very much shares AGEM’s core values and we admire the work that AGEM has carried out to assist suppliers around the world.”

When asked why joining AGEM is so important to Astro Corp, Herbert explained: “Astro Corp has a policy of assisting regulatory commissions and participating in the legislative process wherever possible and this is very much in line with AGEM’s thinking. We also believe in the promotion of responsible corporate citizenship from within the industry. “

There is little doubt that Astro Corp is not only investing heavily in the future of its own business, but also taking very seriously its roles as a developer of cutting edge technologies, as an employer, an educator and as a participant in the regulatory process.