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Lightning strikes again: BGaming’s Thor-inspired game, Gemhalla

| By Tamara Birch | Reading Time: 7 minutes
We’re seeing more and more films, games and TV shows based on Scandinavian mythology, with the likes of Marvel superhero, Thor, and God of War amassing global audiences. BGaming has jumped on this trend with its latest release, Gemhalla, and Yulia Aliakseyeva, co-chief product officer believes this could be its latest thor-oughly successful slot game release.
Gemhalla - Bgaming

Scandinavian mythology is being bjorn again with BGaming’s latest slot game, Gemhalla. It features the almighty god of thunder and lightning, his hammer and a multiplier option to win big. This latest addition is one of many from BGaming, with Royal High-Road, Lucky Crew and Wild Chicago all being released in the last month. 

Go mighty or go home: Building a theme fit for Tor

According to Aliakseyeva, themes focusing on strong characters with a magical twist alongside high-risk elements were found to resonate most with players. This insight led to the development of Gemhalla’s main character, Tor, and the game’s storyline.

“Games based on Norse mythology aren’t for everyone, however the majority of players tend to enjoy Viking themes,” she explains. “Even without considering these recent trends, the theme of Vikings, adventures and warriors is popular in the igaming industry, and various game developers periodically explore it.

 “With Gemhalla, circumstances aligned in a way that the theme of Scandinavian mythology resonated with everyone. We also worked with clients and existing players, too.” 

Bgaming - Gemhalla

A game for the players, by the players

So how does a leading game developer like BGaming keep producing games that take the market by storm? By listening to player feedback, acting on it and building a community that it can rely on. To this end, BGaming monitored gameplay experiences, along with sound, theming, art and mechanics. 

The feedback, much like thunder and lightning, was zapped into the development team to achieve the ideal balance, helping to refine Gemhalla while avoiding contentious elements and common pitfalls such as making the game too complicated for players. But Aliakseyeva says the story and character have remained simple, so players remain engaged and get as much fun as possible out of the game.

“It can be easy to go overboard and create something too complex or unclear for the average player. Sometimes our vision gets blurred, and we may want to add something that the player doesn’t actually need,” she explains. 

The game creation process has been an interesting one for Aliakseyeva. “As the product creators, you stand there ‘cooking’ it, and since it’s not only you who will be ‘eating’ it, it’s worth listening to advice like ‘it needs more salt’ or ‘it could be cooked a bit better’,” she says. 

Having a two-way communication strategy has proven to be hugely successful for BGaming and is something it’ll take into future game developments. 

“Creating games that deeply engage and entertain players is our primary goal,” Aliakseyeva explains. “Additionally, we consult with gambling streamers as they are opinion leaders with extensive experience and a solid understanding of player preferences.”

So how does Gemhalla work?

As players embark on their journey to Asgard, they’ll meet the game’s main companion, Tor, standing near the Yggdrasil tree. According to legend, this tree was once considered to be an inexhaustible source of vitality. In this game, it will be a source of great fortune. 

The god of thunder and lighting is admired by many – and for good reason. Throughout the game, he unleashes his almighty lightning power to create multipliers. The game is then engulfed in lightning until it lands on the reels. 

The game requires an internet connection to get the best experience. Aliakseyeva explains that in the event of disconnection, Tor will send out a mighty strike to create a new row of symbols on the game board so players can continue while they wait for their connection to be restored. 

“However, it’s best not to anger him too much as in his fury, Tory will unleash his full power.” 

Tor then uses this lightning power to accumulate all the multipliers to apply them to the total win. The slot game has refilling reels, giving players the possibility to get consecutive wins on every spin. 

Learning from successes: Gemhalla and Bonanza Billion

Gemhalla follows the traditional 6×5 grid and includes items most associated with Scandinavian mythology such as shields, Viking boats and Tor’s mighty hammer. 

The Gemhalla layout is similar to BGaming’s leading slot game, Bonanza Billion, which was first launched as a Christmas-themed game in December 2021. This initial launch claimed – and still occupies –  top spot within the first month of release, replacing Elvis Frog in Vegas in terms of bets placed by 21%. BGaming, however, has taken the success of Bonanza Billion and evolved it to create more opportunities for players and streamers to secure higher winnings within its base game. 

Bonanza Billion was BGaming’s first brand title that used cascading reels, providing players with a more exciting experience. The game takes players into a fruit-filled world, and with some good luck, could prove to generate some sweet winnings! 

Similar to Gemhalla, Bonanza Billion uses a refilling-reels mechanic, scatter symbols and free spins with multipliers to help players achieve their Christmas wishes. The game was released with a Christmas theme in December 2021, before launching Bonanza Billion Basic, which has received hugely positive feedback.  The game was launched in 2021 and has received hugely positive feedback. 

One SlotsCatalog review said: “Although this game doesn’t come with traditional paylines, there are numerous features here that not only make the gaming process more fun, but can also bring you payouts. In Bonanza Billion, you can get decent payouts if you are lucky. This usually happens when one of the bonus features is triggered.” 

Like Thor, there are some Loki differences. Bonanza Billion has a winning outcome of 2.59 , while Gemhalla occurs less frequently, with a  hit rate of 3.90, but the winnings are higher, which is backed up by Thor’s lightning reflexes. There is also an improved return to player (RTP) rate of 97%, while Bonanza Billion has a return rate of 96.00%, showing that players are channelling their inner Viking!

Bonanza Billion

So what’s the difference between the two games? 

Though Gemhalla has leant on the learnings of Bonanza Billion’s successes, but there are key differences. It is the first game that uses a multiplier in the base game and in free spins  . These multipliers are accumulated throughout the game. 

“If a winning combination occurs during a spin and multiplier symbols appear, their values are summed and accumulated. The multipliers from subsequent winning spins are added to this sum,” Aliakseyeva explains. 

Gemhalla follows a story, unlike Bonanza Billion, which focuses on festive cheer. Instead, Gemhalla drew on other games for inspiration, such as Wild Chicago and Royal High-Road. 

“In recent times, Scandinavian motifs have become quite prevalent in popular culture, with titles like The Northman and Hellblade. Even without considering these recent trends, the theme of Vikings, adventures and warriors is popular in the igaming industry, and various game developers periodically explore it,” Aliakseyeva explains. 

Building on two-way communication

BGaming uses player feedback to helps shape future game releases like Gemhalla. During the development process, the game was shared with the Scatters Club, which is a community of players and gambling streamers. 

The company collects feedback and uses this to create the final product. Once the game was completed, BGaming exclusively released it to clients. 

“For the client, having an exclusive game means they have a product that is unique to their platform for a certain period. This allows them to leverage it in verious promotional campaigns, social media and more to attract players,” Aliakseyeva explains. 

Being exclusive meant BGaming was able to engage a wider audience and bring new players to its brand, increasing visibility. It also allowed the company to monitor how the game resonated among casino-registered players. 

“Each game is created with different goals, so the priority metrics will vary. “However, the feedback we receive won’t be used to update Gemhalla, as it’s already been complicated. But it will be used for future launches.

“This exclusive release is a preliminary launch of the game and we don’t test or ask feedback from this. Still, we analyse data and performance during this period before the official release,” Aliakseyeva continues. 

BGaming monitors the initial game performance and how long players engage with it, which will be the case for Gemhalla. So the question is, are you ready to set sail across the seas and embark on your journey to become a Viking? 

Is this approach the future of igaming?

Involving players in the creative process for Gemhalla might be new to BGaming, but is there an opportunity for other operators to engage players during the development stages?

BGaming has noticed there is an active group of players who are more eager to play if they have the opportunity to collaborate, to share achievements and strategies. This is why BGaming involve them in the development process.

“We want to create games that truly cater to the user, rather than because we want to expand our portfolio,” Aliakseyeva says. “And the development of these gambling games is strongly influenced by this social aspect, especially among players in crypto projects.”

BGaming isn’t stopping there either. It has big plans to introduce a new casual game based on the same mechanics as Gemhalla, but with a greater emphasis on social interaction among users. 

“We aim to become the most social and player-driven provider, and the social aspect in our games will gain momentum through building a loyal community, collecting feedback, adding relevant features to gameplay and developing games for specific events,” Aliakseyeva concludes.

The almighty god of thunder and lightning, Tor, is already helping BGaming achieve this, with its story-led slots game that offers big winnings, increased odds and mythological features that only Thor is known for.

Yulia Aliakseyeva, co-CPO, BGaming

Yulia Aliakseyeva began her career in BGaming as a project manager, responsible for overseeing the game delivery process from concept to release, and she successfully managed all the gaming releases from 2018 to 2021, including the flagship online slot Elvis Frog in Vegas. However, she soon realized her interest in roles focused on the actual product, its content, quality, and competitiveness, leading her to transition first to a game designer and then to a game producer in the slot development direction. Her responsibilities included developing product strategies, shaping the roadmap, and implementing it in collaboration with the team. Recently taking on the role of Co-CPO, Julia’s responsibilities have expanded beyond the gaming direction to encompass working with the overall product strategy of the company.

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