With the news that Yggdrasil Gaming has moved into a second new vertical in as many months, iGaming Times sat down with Marcus Honney, the newly appointed Head of Table Games, to ask about the current state of play in the sector, and how Yggdrasil intends to shake the pack.
iGAMING TIMES: You’ve said the table games vertical has been “fairly static” in recent years. What’s been holding it back?
Marcus Honney: In recent years, the focus has been on live dealer table games, which is highlighted by the significant growth in this vertical.
RNG table games have become relatively static with regards to growth, and in some cases revenues have declined with the growth of live dealer. There are variations of the core games (Blackjack, Roulette and Poker) mainly with the use of side bets and promotional features, such as adding a card or number matching on Roulette with a secondary wheel.
Blackjack tables with slot themes have been developed and traditional games such as the Money Wheel have reappeared and successfully relaunched by adding new bets and live presenters.
What I primarily refer to when mentioning that the vertical has been fairly static is the variations of the core games. New players, particularly millennials, are looking for a skill based and social experience in a mobile environment.
The challenge is that the casino core games cannot really be classified as skill games, so we have taken a look at that and will be introducing features within our games that will address this, using great new bonus features.
What’s been holding it back is that focus has been elsewhere and not on building the potential of the existing core casino games and producing features and an experience for the modern player. That’s about to change.
iGT: How do you hope to improve playability specifically?
MH: As I touched on before, social interaction between the players, great missions, not only within the current game being played but across all the available games. We will be introducing a new group of dealers with special powers that our players will quickly become familiar to players. This experience is delivered using a combination of 3D graphics and motion capture, giving our dealers lifelike movement and features.
iGT: Yggdrasil table games won’t be all about playing against the house. How prevalent is this already in the sector, and what role can your social and promotional tools play in evolving more open play?
MH: In short, it isn’t, outside of poker. This is the opportunity for the product. Players will be able to look out for particular dealers that fit their strategies and play styles.
When we release the tournament features, these Powers will become even more interesting as players search for an upper hand. Letting the players freely communicate and even book tables to play together in future releases will add to the social experience. Our popular BRAG feature will be another social gaming tool our players will be able to use.
We will also be maximising the opportunity to cross-sell to our popular slot titles by creating table themes based on our slot game titles, the first one of which will be Viking Blackjack.
iGT: From a games design perspective, what opportunities for innovation – in terms of customisation, differentiation or anything else – do table games present (as opposed to slots or even bingo)?
MH: The only limit we have is the imagination of whomever is asking us to create an environment. As we are using a 3D background, there are unlimited opportunities to create either brand-specific or event-specific environments, or a combination of both.
We can also customise our existing dealer(s) or create a dealer exclusive to a particularly operator. And this is all achievable at a significantly lower cost than a customised live dealer environment.