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Interview: Fantasma’s CEO & Founder Fredrik Johansson
With an extensive game portfolio and more than 200 operators partnered in 50 countries, Stockholm-based Fantasma is clearly a force to reckon with in the iGaming market. Their vision focuses on developing slots beyond gambling, incorporating gaming experience to breathe new life into the art of slotsmaking. We had a chance to talk with Fantasma’s CEO and founder Fredrik Johansson and discuss the company’s forthcoming game releases in New Jersey and future plans, as well as the creative process behind slots developments.
iGamingNJ: Please can you tell our readers about Fantasma Games’ general ‘ethos’ and approach to games creation.
Fredrik Johansson: The idea and vision for Fantasma Games has from the beginning been to do slots beyond gambling, which means that we try to take inspiration from the traditional gaming industry and throughout the gambling industry. We have lots of successful games based on this premise.
iGNJ: What are your day-to-day duties and responsibilities at Fantasma?
FJ: I’m the CEO of the company, and we’re a public listed company, which brings a lot of responsibilities. Overall, I’m a part of everything from finance, sales, marketing, production, recruitment… everything! So there are lots of things happening for me every day.
iGNJ:You have two releases on the horizon for NJ. Could we talk first about Cloud Corsairs: can you give us an overview of the game and why players should be excited to play it?
FJ: It’s a very interesting theme – a ‘pirates in space’ theme with a lot of exciting features. It has a great base game with a lot of action and things happening all the time, but it also has a very strong bonus game with some very interesting features. Overall, the game is very entertaining and engaging for the players.
iGNJ: Can you take us through the special features of this game?
FJ: One is the Lightning Mystery Feature, which happens quite randomly; in the base games it turns symbols into Zeppelin symbols which are struck by lightning. Then there’s the Zeppelin respin feature, which happens randomly in the base game and also in the bonus game, which creates a respin every time you get a Zeppelin on the reels, locking some of the symbols too. It’s an action-filled game with a lot of entertainment.
iGNJ: Where did the theme for Cloud Corsairs come from?
FJ: The art team always have a lot of interesting ideas (and lots of ideas sitting on the shelves!) They’ve always wanted to do a space pirate game, so they had a lot of interesting and fun ideas. When our mathematician and game producer came up with the mechanics behind Cloud Corsair, it suited that space pirate theme very well.
iGNJ: The second game we wanted to talk about was Bounty Showdown: again – could you tell us a bit about this title?
FJ: So, this is more of a classic slot game. It did really well first in the European market, and then we went live with it on BetMGM in Michigan, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. It has a very strong base game when it comes to the payouts, but also has an interesting bonus game mechanic.
iGNJ: Any particular features players can look forward to experiencing?
FJ: The highlight of the game is the Bonus Wild symbol; every time that hits it triggers a respin. When you enter the bonus free spins, you have a spinning revolver chamber that you’re able to stop two times to choose your multiplier for the duration of the bonus. That can be anything from 1 to 100 x2, so it’s a very exciting moment before you enter the bonus respin.
iGNJ: Generally speaking, where do the themes and concepts for your games come from?
FJ: As mentioned before, we get a lot of inspiration from the traditional gaming industry. Everyone who works at Fantasma Games loves to play all kinds of games, so a lot of ideas usually come from the traditional gaming industry as far as themes, ideas and the concepts behind the games.
iGNJ: Are you driven by math or creativity when choosing which games to develop?
FJ: It is always very math-driven; we always try to create a good game concept based on the maths, and then we add the art and creativity to the game.
iGNJ: So do you start off just with X’s and O’s and – as long as the math works for you – that’s when you’ll start to think about the creative side?
FJ: Yes, exactly. We might be focused on a specific market – like the US market or the UK market – and already know which kinds of features are very popular for that market at the time. We’ll then try to do our own twist on that with the math behind the game. Then, when we have a prototype and it feels good, that’s when we start talking to the team about how we present this in the best way. Which sort of features? Which sort of layout? That leads to a lot of different ideas that the team are keen to do.
iGNJ: What are your future plans for the US market?
FJ: We’re focusing more and more on the US market, and we always want to be at the forefront when it comes to new states opening up as well. We’ve seen that our games are doing great so far, and now it’s just a matter of making sure that we release more and more games over the next couple of years.
iGNJ: More generally, what can we expect from Fantasma over the next 12 months?
FJ: We’re going to increase our production a bit more, while still making sure that we always prioritise quality over quantity. We have a lot of interesting game ideas that we want to push to the market, while making sure that we have games that are very strong in the specific markets that we’re focusing on more right now.
iGNJ: Thanks for your time!
FJ: Thank you. To your audience I’d say, “stay tuned!” We have a lot of interesting games coming up this autumn, and then especially next spring – we have big plans for interesting, fun and entertainment games in the following 12 months.