The creation of the YG Masters programme has helped drive “greater relevance, expand the portfolio and bring on new flavours of game content” for Yggdrasil – a view shared in the second episode of the What’s Up Ygg podcast.
Hosted by Stewart Darkin, head of new media at Square in the Air, discussions were firmly focused on the ways in which the YG Masters programme will help reinvent iGaming aggregation as well as the benefits and opportunities that the aggregation programme brings.
The podcast begins with a shared discussion between three representatives from Yggdrasil: CEO Fredrik Elmqvist, chief of global marketing operations Bjorn Krantz and head of product and programmes, Stuart McCarthy. They were joined by AvatarUX managing director Marcus Honney and Mitri Wiberg, executive producer at Peter & Sons LLC.
Reflecting on the early days of YG Masters, McCarthy explained that the vision for the company stemmed from this vision to build new game content, game engines as well as working with a handful of studios.
He began: “The kick off point, which is more or less three years to the day, was when I joined the organisation. Fred reached out to me with this vision that he wanted to achieve. I had previously been working for another company in aggregation and had an understanding of the mechanics, how aggregation was working and how we thought we could do better.
“Fred reached out and explained that he had this idea about driving greater relevance for Yggdrasil, expanding our portfolio, looking at how we can bring on new flavours of game content onto the platform. That was the inception of the programme really.
“We had this idea that we would be building game content, creating game engines on our side and then working with a small number of studios, delivering everyone to market with our boost tools.”
Discussion soon turned towards Elmqvist, who explained that innovation and creativity played a major role in the creation of the YG Masters programme.
He explained that, similar to the creation of Yggdrasil – a topic covered in the first episode of What’s Up Ygg – the company wanted to “do things differently” from anything else available in the market.
“We saw that there was a lot of creativity coming from all different angles, and we knew that there was an appetite for a lot of content,” he added. “We knew it would be difficult to increase the production and scale in a way that would be able to meet the growing demands from the market.
“We said to ourselves ‘we have nimble technology, we can build something here that’s more scalable and more competitive’.
“In the previous episode, I spoke about how we started Yggdrasil – and I thought we should take a similar approach to aggregation. I wanted to do things differently from what’s already out there. So we identified what can bring a lot of value for the entire chain, what would be of value to studios and our customers. That was the go-to-market starting point.
“But to take the programme to the next level, we needed to do some further innovation with regards to technology in order to reshape YG Masters – something which would bring more value and more intellectual property.”
So what are the stand-out benefits associated with the YG Masters programme? According to Krantz, one key factor is access to a business of scale.
Taking into account the changes in market dynamics, Krantz highlighted that many operators are now looking for differentiation within their games offering – something which he believes is possible through the YG Masters programme.
He said: “When we are talking to the customers across various different global markets, we know that market dynamics have changed a lot in the past few years. Now operators are looking for more relevance in the content that they have; they want to have more differentiation in their portfolios.
“I think that the scale of operations here is also important because if you look at the regulatory side of the business and the cost of operating, a business’ scale is everything. The YG Masters programme enables us to offer that scale to partners which is very efficient.”
To reaffirm the benefits of working with Yggdrasil, Honney disclosed that working with the supplier has helped drive a level of exposure which has meant people are now recognising AvatarUX as an individual studio.
He shared his views that while having a personal relationship with many of the staff members has made their collaboration overwhelmingly positive, he emphasised that Yggdrasil has provided AvatarUX with a degree of exposure which has helped the company grow considerably.
“From our point of view, I think we were the second one to join the party if you like,” he explained. “We joined for a lot of the reasons that both Fred and Stuart have already mentioned. But on top of that, it does also help that we knew the individuals involved, there was a relationship there already – we’ve seen each other through different situations.
“But from a studio point of view, I’ve got to be able to take the emotion out of these relationships and be honest to the investors that we have in our company. We want to make sure that we go to the right partners because we’ve got a good portfolio of games.”
Honney continued: “So having a programme like YG Masters with the mechanics and structure that was already in place meant that we didn’t need to worry about licensing or distribution – both of which are a huge cost to us, especially as a newer studio.
“If you look at the kind of revenues that we’re generating now compared to last year, it’s chalk and cheese. All of a sudden, people are noticing us and it’s given us an opportunity. Ygggdrasil has given us a level of exposure and people are starting to recognise us as an individual studio.”
Watch the full podcast here.