Yggdrasil’s Björn Again: Ushering in the Next Era of iGaming
Yggdrasil’s reputation as an iGaming market leader, most recently demonstrated by their victory as RNG ‘Casino Provider of The Year’ at the International Gaming Awards 2022, has been established for many years.
It was the perfect winning way for their new CEO, Björn Krantz to begin his tenure at the helm of the Swedish online gaming giant.
Nevertheless, the iGaming industry is a fast-paced environment and it is continually evolving as new regulations and technology continue to alter the business landscape.
So we thought it key–and most apposite–to catch up with Bjorn to hear his thoughts on important aspects set to impact our industry, and to ask him how he plans to position Yggdrasil for ongoing and future success.
How has Yggdrasil cultivated such a good relationship with its customers? And how can this be further improved going forward?
“Yggdrasil has almost 200 customers around the world, ranging from smaller, niche operators to some of the most prominent international operators in the industry. We recognise that they all have different needs and we’re committed to continuously adapting our publishing strategies to match their commercial objectives.
“One of the key ways of achieving this is through our innovative tech solution, GATI (Game Adaptation Tools & Interface). It’s disruptive technology that allows developers to employ a pre-configured, regulation-ready, standardised development toolkit to create cutting-edge content – followed by rapid distribution across the supplier’s entire distribution network, while reducing development time by up to 30 per cent.
“Our customers benefit from this because they can now be provided with an almost infinite range of games in any regulated territory, ready to launch and commercialise almost instantly. Yggdrasil’s ability to provide regulation-ready games to the market at speed is a vital element of helping our customers to grow and a fundamental part of our industry relationships.”
Operating in such a competitive market, how do you ensure your game development is ahead of the curve and market-leading?
“We pride ourselves on our ability to provide unique games with new, innovative mechanics. Yggdrasil develops all its games with a player-centric mindset always at the fore. We depend heavily on business intelligence from game data taken from our almost 200 customers, giving us a 360-degree perspective on what the market really needs. The amount of game data that we’re able to gather is immense and we take full advantage of this, enabling us to fully understand what specific game features do and don’t work.
“As mentioned, the market is very saturated and highly competitive. Players are a lot more sophisticated these days, so we put huge focus on developing games around the real needs of players, working in collaboration with key stakeholders in the industry, such as streamers and online influencers. This enables us to get instant feedback from players, which is looped back into the development process.
“The streamer community is very important to us for building games that we call ‘top of mind’, helping to create a buzz around the game, which we know is an important decision-making factor for today’s player. This is a benefit we’re also able to pass on to our customers. For example, if we’re working with German streamers, who are demonstrating our games to their audience, then we can notify our German partners to put that particular game in a more prominent position in their lobby and send promotional emails to their customers. Transparency and cross-market collaboration are the keys to creating successful games, whilst also helping our partners to grow simultaneously through these enhanced acquisition and retention strategies.”
What does Yggdrasil’s global footprint look like, and how do you see it developing in the future?
“We have a strong footprint across the globe, but we are most prevalent on the Continent, operating across 19 regulated European markets. This region is the foundation of our business, which we aim to fortify and build upon going forward.
“We are, of course, always looking for new regulated markets to enter, expanding our global focus. LatAm, for instance, is a region of high interest for us, as it is a rapidly developing emerging market with a host of growth opportunities. Due to the evolving nature of the market, most local players still do not have access to the quality and quantity of products available to their European counterparts, which is a gap we aim to fill.
“We already have a presence in LatAm. We’ve recently gone live in Mexico and have plans to soon go live in Colombia. There are other markets blossoming in this region, and we are keeping our eye on their progress with the hope of expanding there in the near future.
“North America is also a hotbed of growth for us. We have an exciting strategic partnership with IGT, giving our games great mobility across the States. We went live with our first game, Vikings Go Wild, in Michigan very recently and the response from that market has been very encouraging. We’re now looking forward to releasing more game titles in the region and we have very high hopes for these.”
Being a multi-jurisdiction operator, or supplier, is increasingly challenging as regulated markets continue to become further fragmented. How do you see this impacting the market going forward and how can these issues be mitigated?
“We feel that good, practical regulation is the right way forward to sustainably grow our industry and ensure long term success for all industry stakeholders. This is why it’s of paramount importance to us that we are, and continue to be, very well regulated and compliant.
“However, we also understand that many regions are still in the relatively early stages of regulation and so its full impact is still not completely known. The objective will of course always be to attract high levels of channelisation, while implementing measures that will protect players and maximise their gaming experience simultaneously.
“As the market continues to stabilise, of course there will be a plethora of different tax regimes and regulatory frameworks across individual jurisdictions. But, this being said, greater understanding should come in time. Longer experience and traction of regulation gives us more data points to gain a comprehensive perspective of what works, and what doesn’t work.
“We need to better cross-collaborate across different regions. At present, we’re in a place and a time where we actually do have enough data to gain true visibility on the impact of channelisation. But I believe that as a global industry, we need to harmonise better, throughout Europe especially.
“The fact is we haven’t done as much as we can and this, unfortunately, has created a more cumbersome workload for everyone. Technological advancements have created great opportunities for harmonisation. But we are not yet taking full advantage of this.
“I think we will get there eventually, yet I believe it will still be many years until we can jettison excessive bureaucracy and reach a point where a forum is created for countries to come together and speak about this. We’ve seen similar harmonisation processes take place in the telecommunications industry. They have cross-border licensing and regulatory frameworks, proving that it can be done. Hopefully, iGaming will soon catch up.”
After speaking with Björn, it’s clear that Yggdrasils’ progress in the market shows no signs of slowing. Their award-winning games are a result of their inherently forward-thinking and collaborative nature, built on a solid foundation of extensive game data and business intelligence. Their embrace of the latest technology, moreover, has enabled them to pass on the benefits to their customers and cultivate strong industry relationships.
As expected, Björn is a strong advocate of good regulation and compliance. Building on this foundation has allowed Yggdrasil to cultivate a strong business base across Europe, while powering their expansion into exciting new markets across the globe.
With Björn at the helm, we look forward to seeing what’s next for Yggdrasil.