“So much has happened since we last met,” begins Björn Krantz during a catch-up at the recent long-awaited ICE London.
This came as CasinoBeats caught-up with the man who enjoyed another significant development in the week that followed after officially taking over the reins of Yggdrasil from Fredrik Elmqvist.
In January 2020, a short-time before COVID enforced shut downs were ordered and ICE entered a lengthy hiatus, Yggdrasil detailed a vision of splitting the company into three divisions of affiliation, distribution and publishing.
Krantz, who joined Yggdrasil in January 2020 to lead the group’s publishing division, kicks-off the latest conversation by issuing an update on the progress endured since that point.
“I mean, first of all, we are very proud that we now have capitalised on the modern tech that has enabled us to realise the publisher strategy
“GATI, sitting in the centre piece of that strategy, enables for a much swifter and optimised commercialisation of not only our own games, but also how we work with our partners.
“And what we have seen in capitalising on modern tech is a ramp-up of the complete roadmap, I would say. We went from around 30 games in 2020 to I think around 65 games in 2021. So that’s a double up that was enabled through the publisher strategy.”
A key part of the company’s roadmap, and one that has continued to gain momentum since, is that of YG Masters, which enables third party studios access to GATI – which stands for game adaption tools and interfaces – and other tools and services to develop, commercialise and distribute games.
“When we started the YG Masters, it was more of how can we support other third party studios to commercialise their innovative games through all these global channels of customers that we have,” Krantz said of the program’s evolution over time and current status.
“And any studio who feels that every game will get the hit forget about that”
“That was sort of the starting point and to do that in an effective way, then curating the programme a little bit and also looking at how we work with our own IP and game assets through the program.
“We have seen that we can do more with our partners, we can be more strategic in how we’re working with our partners, and what we offer our partners as part of the programme.
“And one of those elements is the GEMs, the game engagement mechanics, where we have created a set of high performing game framework IPs such as Gigablox, MultiMax, DoubleMax.
“We resell those IP frameworks back to our partners, and they utilise frameworks as a baseline for building high performing games. This is a great strategic win win, and which has been a very important evolution of the Masters programme.”
Alongside this continued uptick in performance is a complementary set of challenges that now accompanies games development, built upon the back of an endless stream of slots and a ‘shelf-life’ that appears to get ever shorter.
As each week passes a new set of challenges in the development of slots emerges, and a fresh wave of obstacles in aiming for success are confronted by studios.
“To produce a really good game today is not easy. You know, as we talked about a number of years back the market looked very different. Now the player community is pretty sophisticated,” it is added.
“They know what they want. So you need to be very player centric in order to at least get as close to the players needs as we possibly can in the development cycle.
“And any studio who feels that every game will get the hit forget about that, it’s very, very difficult.”
“The US igaming market has been growing fantastically”
Krantz cites the importance of business intelligence and data points as crucial in maximising the opportunity for a slot to deliver, as well as stressing the importance of being “very close to the market”.
Furthermore, the necessity of making the most of the “important streaming community” is also highlighted due to the provision of “a tremendous amount of nice important insights that they give us on games”.
“As you were saying, the shelf time is pretty short. If you don’t give your absolute best, you know, in trying to understand the trigger points in that case centric development process, you will have a few spins and you’re gone,” it is added.
“But if you understand the different elements in the player community, the BI connected with the player, direct player feedback, operator feedback, consumer feedback, you have a lot of great ingredients in order to enhance the chances for the games to be sticky.
“And if it becomes sticky earlier than most likely it will have a better overall performance and a better lifetime value. And that is what I think everyone is after. So we are working very hard on this 360 view and there are a lot of stakeholders involved in making everything work in that view.”
To conclude, Krantz took a look at Yggdrasil’s global footprint, and addressed which regions are firmly on the radar for expansion in the near future.
“The partnership with IGT is truly a strategic decision in our regulatory expansion, and our market entry into the US market,” he concluded.
“So, now we have our first game live, Vikings Go Wild in Michigan, and it has been working really well. The focus now is to launch that game over more brands into more states and then increase the output of games through the IGT partnership.
“I fully understood the potential of the IGT collaboration, alongside their trustful reputation. We had a number of key go to market evaluation criteria within our decision making process. The partnership with IGT ended up being a great fit.
“So we’re very proud of the partnership and now it’s all about accelerating our joint efforts. The US igaming market has been growing fantastically over the past couple of years. And we obviously want a piece of that market.”