One of the biggest winners of 2017 when it came to the slots was Yggdrasil, not to mention the players that had the privilege of playing them. The launch of games like Spina Colada, Sunny Shores and Valley of the Gods continued the tradition of the developer launching games that players simply wanted to play – and that is always half the battle. As far as we’re concerned, Yggdrasil has propelled itself into the stratosphere alongside the likes of Microgaming and NetEnt as one of the biggest and best developers out there.
With the quality, exciting slots side of things covered, all that is missing from a truly competitive standpoint is the full-service casino package that can only be completed by table games. We had started to think that it would never actually happen, but that all changed today with the announcement that Yggdrasil is diving head first into the table gaming vertical – and looking to do things a little differently to what players might be expecting.
It is fair to say that digital table gaming has stagnated somewhat in recent times. The big names like Microgaming and NetEnt already offer a full suite of blackjack and roulette games, while the rising stars of slots development like Play’n Go generally focus on their slots, with only a rudimentary selection of table games on offer, if any. The rest of the slack is generally picked up by live dealer games, which are usually provided by one of the bigger slots developers or dedicated companies like Evolution Gaming. However, Yggdrasil wants to involve players in the table action like never before, with a little help from its cutting edge REDUX technology.
Some of our readers may well remember PKR, a brand that is sadly no longer with us, which attempted to revolutionise online poker through the use of 3D avatars, emotes and more. It turned out to be a bit of a gimmick, all told, and the introduction of an option to switch to a more traditional layout seemed like the acceptance of defeat more than anything else. However, the underlying principles that led to that brand’s creation seem to have lived on here, with Yggdrasil making use of 3D, motion-captured dealers which are being designed with their own hand movements and expressions that will allow them to communicate with players.
Casino operators are also sure to be impressed by the flexibility and customisability of the new Yggdrasil table games. They can opt for the standard branding on the tables, or can work with the developer for their own unique tables, dealers and themes.
Blackjack is the first game to receive the Yggdrasil treatment, with 3D versions of roulette and baccarat already close to completion. In addition to offering a realistic experience, without the need for live dealers, the games will also focus heavily on interaction, as players will also be able to communicate with other players at the same table.
The first operator to take Yggdrasil up on the offer of some table gaming innovation is the Jackpotjoy Group, which will be deploying the new titles at their Vera & John and Intercasino brands early this year as part of a beta partnership, which will evolve into a full launch later in the year.
Krzysztof Opalka, CPO at Yggdrasil, said: “Our table games provision, starting with blackjack, is set to break new ground in online casino gaming. The table games vertical has been fairly static in recent years. But our product’s combination of social interaction and high-end playability is unlike any other currently on the market.
“It won’t just be a single player trying to beat the house, but instead thousands of real players from all over the world, who are all able to join the game simultaneously with the aim of hitting big hands and bigger wins.
“We have a packed roadmap of innovative new games and features. Our aim is to innovate table games in a similar fashion to slots, where a constant product cycle of new variations built on familiar mechanics drives growth.”
As the first major partner, Jackpotjoy’s team is suitably enthusiastic about the launch and Head of Gaming Victor Olinger commented: “Yggdrasil is a well-known name across the industry that has become a byword for innovation in the slots sector. It is fantastic news to hear they are turning their attention to table games.
“It is a major coup to be the first operator to go live with Yggdrasil’s table games, and we look forward to bringing this exciting new product to our full customer base next year.”
There are still questions to be asked about this shift in focus. We are curious as to whether there is still an appetite for digital table games – we generally focus on the slots, but if we do decide to hit the tables, the live dealer action generally has just what we’re looking for. Given their track record, however, we feel that if anyone can make it work, Yggdrasil can.
Our first glimpse of the new games will be at ICE Totally Gaming in London between 6th and 8th February this year. It is traditionally the busiest week of news in the calendar, but we hope to have some first impressions to share here in the news shortly after the event.