Exclusive Q&A w/ Stuart McCarthy, Head of Product & Program at Yggdrasil

Reading Time: 3 minutes


Games designed to piggyback on popular entertainment themes have been proven to perform well in emerging online markets including the United States. With exclusive IP rights often very expensive, we look at the key factors involved in creating games that appeal to fans of well-loved films, TV shows and video games.


What are the main aspects to consider when designing a game that can tap into the buzz around an upcoming release in the world of entertainment?

At Yggdrasil, we released our first Vikings game a few years after the hit TV series Vikings first aired. It was mainly developed to tie in with the norse mythology and our Scandinavian heritage, however it cannot be denied that the game series’ popularity has been boosted by the large following of the TV show.

Vikings is of course a large part of Nordic history and has been portrayed numerous times in popular culture and therefore also makes a good theme for slot games. Our Vikings portfolio has been further enhanced with each new title we release. Just like a TV series or a film, we have developed characters that return in all of the games, and we create a storyline around them. This way, we build some familiarity which ensures players come back.


What types of content – genre of film or TV show, for example – are suitable for designing a game around, and are there any which are out of bounds?

Out of bounds is an interesting term. Over the years, there would have been a lot of taboo topics that we didn’t go near but that seems to have changed with the advent of more ‘challenging’ themes for slot games seen recently.

Back on topic, game shows have always been the obvious cross over between mainstream TV and gaming with Wheel of Fortune, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Deal or No Deal being prime examples of where players fundamentally understand the mechanics and are therefore comfortable or excited to play the slot because they have watched the shows.

Outside of that, the world is your oyster really and working with existing popular themes gives developers real scope to think outside the box and really be creative. Most themes can be turned into a game and if it works for film and TV, it’s likely to be also popular with slot players. Inspiration doesn’t have to come from just film and TV, with video games for example being another great source for ideas. Many popular video games have later been turned into films and TV, highlighting that it can go both ways. The trick is then to ensure the mechanics and features of the slot work well with the theme to create an exciting and entertaining experience.


Is it more important to consider creating this type of content with an eye on emerging markets, where typical online game genres might be less familiar?

I wouldn’t say so. Often, big hit shows, films or video games become a global phenomenon, meaning a casino product with a particular theme will appeal to a wide audience across numerous markets. When we develop our content, we always try to ensure it will attract as many player demographics as possible, and often themes from popular culture works really well.


What legal aspects need to be considered to avoid straying too close to an original IP?

We don’t try to imitate or copy existing franchises, we want to create our own take, inspired by a popular theme. We therefore work hard to develop our own characters and stories, as showcased in the Vikings series.

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