IGT and Yggdrasil: bridging the gap between retail and digital content

Yggdrasil’s content will help bring something new to the table for US players and act as a perfect complement to IGT’s offering, said Enrico Drago, IGT’s CEO digital and betting.

In a discussion led by Steve Schrier, chief executive of Sales Tribe, Drago was joined by Yggdrasil CEO Fredrik Elmqvist to outline their joint vision for the new collaboration between the two companies, explaining how they plan to maximise growth opportunities in the growing US igaming market.

This landmark partnership, Drago and Elmqvist highlighted, will give IGT exclusive access to a select number of Yggdrasil’s online slots which can then be rolled out to its network of operators in the US and Canada.

Both CEOs agreed that slot games are more universal than sometimes portrayed, but it is the mechanics which truly help a supplier to stand out from the crowd. For Elmqvist, something which game developers must prioritise is the overall player experience, ensuring that the math and UX for each title is a main focus.

“We have lots of experience in creating high game quality,” said the Yggdrasil CEO. “The games that we produce, however, are more universal. We haven’t developed any games that target a certain market. 

“I would say that certain mechanics are tailored towards certain markets, for example LatAm players, Japanese players and so forth. But from the slots development perspective, it is much more similar than people actually believe.

“Everything is much more about the quality and overall experience for the player. It’s all about creating a sense of excitement which can be distributed cross multiple territorial markets. We are very keen on bringing that excitement to the partnership with Enrico and the IGT team.

“We know it’s going to work because we have friends also in the US market who have provided some stats and feedback. We know what works. There are certain discrepancies and differences between the US and Europe. 

“It’s more like mechanics – certain things that work in Japan might not work in the US. But besides that, it’s a lot of similarities. It is always about the UX. The UX and the math behind the game – that’s what it is all about.”

Drago agreed about the importance of the game mechanics and said the partnership agreement will see a variety of Yggdrasil games launched on the IGT platform during 2022 and an additional set of games planned for the following year. 

He told listeners: “The type of digital content that IGT has developed and launched so far, is mostly from games that were developed for the retail and land-based sector. We have created a formula to transport those retail games into the digital space. This is where we really shine as a business. But clearly, this is not enough as player bases are changing. Players want and need to play different games.

“So Yggdrasil’s games, their style, richness and mechanics are something which are not known in the United States and the Canadian markets. We both strongly believe that this content can be successful. Yggdrasil’s content complements our offering. There is a very powerful rationale and proposition underneath this partnership. 

Making an entry into the North American market is no easy feat, and so securing a strong partnership with IGT appeared to be a natural step for Yggdrasil, Elmqvist told Schrier. 

He said: “I see the developments happening now across the US and North America as a whole, including some provinces in Canada. The European markets have developed,  and we have been part of  the regulatory transformation  that have taken place over the years. I think that as more states open up, the US and Canada will quickly catch up to where we are in Europe. 

“North America is going to be much trickier from a financial and regulatory standpoint, without a doubt. There are pitfalls, but there are also huge opportunities. That’s why I find it so interesting to go forward with the partnership with IGT. 

“I would say that in the same way as IGT has, we have developed multiple games using our own intellectual property. We develop mechanical frameworks and license them to our studios, we also run a third party to develop a network. If you look at our strategy in the United States, it was a very, very deliberate decision to find the best strategy partnership for North America. 

“We were contemplating going into North America on our own for various reasons, which we at the end decided not to do . Instead, we wanted to enter the market with a well-recognized and established regional partner. Of course, we spent time evaluating our prospective partners. We decided that if we can enter into partnership with IGT, there’s going to be a good scale of opportunities for both companies.”

Watch the podcast here.