Yggdrasil Gaming – How the Provider Found Its Niche and Grew Substantially
Launched in 2013, Yggdrasil Gaming has very quickly gone from strength to strength over the years, with a growth rate that is perhaps unprecedented in the online gambling software industry. You can read our provider and casino reviews for further information regarding this and many other successful brands.
Yggdrasil Gaming was created by one of the most dynamic professionals in the industry - Fredrik Elmqvist, the founder and former CEO; he is responsible for the initial direction that the company has taken in addition to the constant evolution. Poland is where the head development office is (Krakow), while the headquarters can be found in Sliema (Malta).
The term 'Yggdrasil' derives from ancient Norse mythology, with this being a sacred tree, with the belief that nine worlds exist around it that are central to each of the Gods.
Over the years, Yggdrasil has put a great amount of emphasis on the products that it creates for the iGaming industry, ensuring, first and foremost, that they create a following of fans who find its slots and games engaging above all else. Standing out in a particularly crowded marketplace can be tough, though the software development niche of the online gambling industry has continued to evolve over the last two decades.
It also helps that the online gambling industry has 10s of millions of fans around the world, and as a result, everyone has different tastes when it comes to slots. This means that, effectively, there is still space for software providers who concentrate on certain niches - Yggdrasil has been able to do just that in order to carve out a substantial identity.
Over the years, the way players think about online slots but also play them has changed a lot, with smartphone technology becoming the most popular device for this. As such, those software providers that were able to move fast considerably changed the way that they did things, adopting a primarily 'mobile first' approach to development.
Boutique firms like Yggdrasil focused on this, aligning their vision with an innovative approach and being particularly choicest when it came to hiring the right people to implement their blueprint. This was demonstrated in the production of its content, but also from a business perspective and the way that the firm has adapted over the years to differentiate itself.
Product Key to Yggdrasil’s Success
Like any business, the main asset (product and/or service) usually always proves to be the cornerstone of success and also helps to create a brand that people can instantly recognize and become fans of. This all started for Yggdrasil with the first few slots that the company created and establishing a foundation to build upon.
In an interview in 2020, then Senior Game Product Owner, David Stoveld, spoke about the importance of getting things right from the beginning, especially for helping it to make a statement in the industry.
"The initial success of games like Jokerizer and Winterberries was crucial," he revealed.
The game quality was already high for such an early release. Holmes and Viking Go Wild were also key milestones for Yggdrasil with back-to-back successes in 2015, which helped Yggdrasil surge above the competition with the out-of-the-box mechanics and game quality.
After the release of Vikings Go Berzerk along with Yggdrasil Gaming in-game promotional tools, Boost, Brag, Network Campaigns, and missions, the success just continued to snowball.
Of course, being able to constantly move in this industry is key to making sure that a software provider does not fall behind.
"We undoubtedly plan on more industry firsts, and while pushing the envelope is anything but easy, the alternative is just not part of our culture. We thrive on the challenge here at Yggdrasil", he said when speaking about future plans.
Vault of Fortune slot game was a beautiful production released with a unique combination of super expanding wilds that expand higher than the reels for a greater chance to win during cascades with increasing multipliers. Our YG Masters partner, 4ThePlayer, has introduced Dual Spin on dueling reel sets – the first-of-its-kind bet mechanic having the player choose which side he thinks will win every spin for an extra multiplier for choosing the correct side to win.
We are also revamping our UI. We plan to become even more mobile-focused from the comfort of play to screen optimization and new player control intuition, and we will offer turbo mode in available jurisdictions, which are beginning to roll out on our new releases. I believe our turbo mode will have an edge on the competition with tailored timing for optimal gameplay.
The opportunity to showcase new products at iGaming events quickly led to Yggdrasil raising awareness in front of target clients, with numerous in attendance from different markets.
This was exemplified perfectly when it became clear that Yggdrasil was beginning to take a new direction, gearing more towards an interactive online slot experience, as demonstrated with the release of Gigablox mechanics.
Stoveld added weight to this, highlighting: "While some of our mechanical frameworks have gamification elements such as unlocking free games in Temple Stacks Splitz, our primary focus on gamification has been with our Boost and Brag tools.
We have found ways to take online gaming and put another layer of gameplay to engage our fans. One good example is Missions, where players compete for extra prizes. We also find ways to get our fans together in our social Slot Shot tournaments and streamer competitions.
YG Masters Program Proves a Masterstroke
The formation of the YG Masters Program was a game-changer for Yggdrasil and an industry first for a software provider, which effectively took it to the next level in the online gambling industry and really made people sit up and take notice.
Through its relationship with numerous notable operators around the world, it effectively created a platform for lesser-known software providers or boutique studios to promote their products and help them to get noticed.
Almost overnight, this increased their credibility via their wide-ranging distribution channels while also enabling them to take a percentage of the revenue that was generated from any new product that would launch on the YG Masters Program.
Since its launch, the company has seen many game studios and labs join its Master's Program, allowing these to focus purely on the development of slots and games, knowing that they do not have to worry about securing commercial deals due to the highly innovative and well-distributed platform that Yggdrasil had in place.
The way in which the program came about was truly an ingenious piece of thinking that very quickly saw it move from concept to reality. It was one that saw CEO, Elmqvist approach the head of studio partnerships, Stuart McCarthy, to present an idea that he viewed as achievable and a great way to make a significant splash.
McCarthy revealed at the time: "I had just left NYX (now SG Digital), where I had been deeply involved in their game aggregation business, so I knew full well that with the right steer, this idea was going to be a winner."
He continued: "Standing still is simply not part of our DNA, and we know there are many more talented studios and individuals out there who have a huge potential.
By working together, we can develop the most innovative products possible on our advanced platform, broadening our product offering while delivering new and exciting experiences to our operators' players in one streamlined and commercially attractive package. At the same time, we give studios and individuals the opportunity to accelerate the process of making their concept a money-making success.
The first studio to join the program was Northern Lights Gaming, a small, independent enterprise with offices in Manchester (England) and Stockholm (Sweden), founded in 2017 that focused on creating high-end content for the UK market, which significantly helped to raise Yggdrasil's reputation. This was quickly followed by Rabcat, with the company forging a reputation over the last few years for creating alternative slot games that focus specifically on user engagement.
Now, the YG Masters Program has well in excess of 180 games on its proprietary software and is one of the most reputable platforms for operators when it comes to choosing slots that 'stand out from the crowd'.
This has also helped to create a reliable and even formidable channel for start-up game studios, who do not have to worry about marketing their products, with this proving to be an effective channel for helping small boutiques gain substantial exposure.
YG Franchise Program Launches Yggdrasil into the Stratosphere
What came following the YG Master's program, perhaps not even the software provider's closest competitors could have predicted. It was, nevertheless, an initiative that really took them to the next level and highlighted the strength of their ambition.
Similar to a white-label company, Yggdrasil launched a franchise program that combined its nine years of experience, allowing new iGaming operator companies to launch from scratch though using the firm's proprietary technology. This included full back office support, access to its full portfolio of games, and a comprehensive marketing toolkit, to enable a start-up to launch immediately, with a rubber stamp of approval.
It also provided all of its studios' access to potentially more clients, albeit startups, which could allow their games to be marketed to different target customers, therefore increasing awareness further.
This has been greeted with enthusiasm in the marketplace, and one of the first franchisees, Azure Tech, which focuses on the ever-increasing Asian sector of the industry, has seen great results since. Despite this being a fellow content developer, its startup status and the fact that it catered to Asia would help to give Yggdrasil further credibility while raising awareness of its products in a new, exciting market.
At the time of signing up, Chief Operations Officer at Azure, Cora Chen, had only positive things to say about the initiative, stating how excited he was that the company was to be a part of it.
"We are very proud to expand our business cooperation with such an innovative and professional company as Yggdrasil," she enthused.
We remain amazed at how agile and responsive they are as a company and how Yggdrasil continues to deliver groundbreaking technologies that support faster time to market for partners' business needs. We are very excited to become a Franchisee of Yggdrasil, and we cannot wait to realize the potential of the GATI technology, to start collaborating with other Franchisees, and have full access to their best-in-class slots and table games.
Meanwhile, the Head of Publishing for Yggdrasil, Bjorn Krantz, highlighted the level of the company's commitment to making sure that it could continue to offer a high standard of service.
We are absolutely delighted to sign our second strategic Franchise partnership in just two weeks. With our new Franchise offering, Azure Tech will be able to scale its go-to-market operations and accelerate its business strategy in a way they did not think possible.
GATI is a true disruptor technology. All our partners, being tightly integrated into GATI, will be able to cross-sell their games to any of our global Franchisees. This is a unique way to rapidly scale distribution and revenue opportunities at the same time as enabling completely new ways of working and collaborating. It's truly exciting times for us, Azure Tech, and our Franchisees.
It has certainly been a meteoric rise for Yggdrasil, considering that since launching in 2013, it did not really break ground until a couple of years later - most of the time after being founded was spent developing its first slots, designed to shock, awe and make an impact.
What quickly became clear, with the speed at which the two programs that followed were executed, is that these were planned all along - possibly from the inception of the company, highlighting the extraordinary and insightful vision of the founding team.
Market Expansion Takes the Provider to a New Level
There is the feeling that the company has barely scratched the surface in terms of what it can do. What is for sure is that its remarkable focus on innovation, ability to read the market, and also adapt to the times have proven to be crucial parts of its success over the years.
Having started with just three people - the founding team, Yggdrasil Gaming now boasts a headcount of over 180 people, with offices in Sweden and Malta. The company's revenue exceeds $22 million per year.
The software provider further flexed its muscles and ambition with a foray into the constantly increasing North American market after securing a partnership with powerhouse IGT (International Gaming Technology) - one of the biggest and most reputable casino slot developers of the last few decades.
The terms of the deal granted IGT access to the wide portfolio of Yggdrasil products for its partners in Canada and the US - including operators.
Elmqvist indicated just how big a deal this was at the time, stating: "Yggdrasil continues to deliver on its growth strategy, and US and Canada are key territories for driving continued sustainable long-term growth and shareholder value.
We are delighted to partner up with IGT, the world's leading gaming supplier, who will have exclusive territorial distribution rights for a selected number of our best-in-class Yggdrasil game titles.
As the online gaming market continues to expand in North America, we look forward to supporting IGT's PlayCasino customers to realize their goals through our player-centric, highly entertaining, and iconic games.
IGT's CEO Digital & Betting had the following to say:
Partnering with high-performing game developers such as Yggdrasil Gaming is a pillar of IGT PlayDigital's growth strategy and an additional differentiator of the IGT PlayCasino value proposition.
Yggdrasil Gaming's artistic talents, passion for innovation, and commitment to quality and performance shine through in all their games, and we believe Yggdrasil games will complement our player-favorite IGT PlayCasino games.
It appeared that new market expansion was the strategy when the firm's North American deal was followed up by a partnership with RushBet for its maiden entry into the LatAm market, starting with Colombia.
Andrew Pegler, Chief of Commercial Operations at Yggdrasil, underlined just how big a deal this was, stating: "RSI is a market-leading operator in Colombia, and we are very proud to have been given the trust and confidence to introduce our best-in-class games to their local audience. We are excited about this opportunity and look forward to growing our presence in the region together with RSI."
Yggdrasil is well-known for its high-quality slots content and offers a diverse portfolio of fan-favorite and new games that is sure to impress our growing customer base in Colombia.
We are excited to be the first to offer Yggdrasil's impressive games portfolio in Colombia and look forward to a successful long-term partnership.
What Could the Future Hold for Yggdrasil?
No doubt, further consolidating itself in both the North American and LatAm markets will be high on the agenda for the software provider, and it could effectively take its pick of operators and software providers alike.
Having lit the blue touchpaper with RushBet, it will certainly be interesting to see how the B2C (Business-to-Customer) market reacts to this agreement, which could well pave the way for more end clients to follow suit.
It will also likely be keeping an eye on as yet uncharted territories that are primed for regulatory approval, such as Africa and even, potentially, Asia, where its diversity of slots could have a major impact, especially on the latter.
What could work in the company's favor is potentially acquiring one or a few of its studio partners, adding even more assets to its portfolio, in addition to increasing the company's overall value.
The rival Swedish firm, Evolution, has shown a particular proclivity for buying similar software companies, evidenced by its staggering purchase of fellow behemoth NetEnt, which was completed in early 2021.