Interview With Ben McDonagh, CEO of Green Jade Games

Green Jade Games is a comparatively new online casino software provider, however, this company has already done a lot to revolutionize the whole gambling industry. Its daring experiments and innovative approach to games enabled it to create games that have never been seen before! More about Green Jade Games in this new Q&A with Benedict McDonagh, CEO at Green Jade Games.

Interview With Ben McDonagh, CEO of Green Jade Games
14 min read

About Green Jade Games

Green Jade Games - great name by the way - was founded in 2017 by seasoned experts in the niche, Jesper Kärrbrink and Ben McDonagh. The company was created because the founders noticed an outstanding opportunity to meet the needs of the market that have not yet been met. By now, the company holds licenses by the UKGC, the MGA, and this is not the limit to its ambitions. 

Yet, Green Jade Games ambitions are for a good reason - even being a comparatively young developer, this company has already created products never seen before. Besides pursuing state of the art level of quality - according to Ben McDonagh, they kill more games in development than they eventually promote - Green Jade has introduced unique features and mechanics to the online casino games, skill-based slots being one of them. 

Moreover, the company taps into the gamblers’ needs directly, offering not only skill-based online slots that give more control and choice to the players, but also a new generation of arcade games. There are complicated mathematical models behind each product, and the tech specs are highly elaborate. 

Among values pursued by Green Jade Games, the opportunity for the players to develop their online identity, collaborate, and compete, takes an important place. The company also sees its task in providing comprehensive education about the real features and mechanics of the games. Only via innovation and also transparency, Green Jade believes the world of online gambling can be transformed. 

Find out more about Green Jade Games and its approach to gambling innovation, in this new Q&A with Benedict McDonagh!

Q/A Session With Benedict McDonagh, CEO of Green Jade Games

Hello Ben! Thank you for finding time to talk to us and take part in our Q&A session. For starters, could you please briefly introduce Green Jade Games to our readers, tell them about your values and major ideas, and perhaps lift the curtain over the online casino games development processes in your company? 

Thanks, CasinosHunter, it would be a pleasure. Green Jade Games is a value and major idea-driven company, so as a founder I can answer the questions with combined context.

Jesper Kärrbrink and I founded Green Jade Games after seeing a glaring opportunity to completely revolutionise gambling entertainment.

Having gambled for decades and held senior roles in casino management positions I was in a prime position to address this gap. I’m certainly not a technical founder so the vision of Green Jade Games is born out of the need to improve gambling games in order to attract and retain a new player base, with the games being the consumable product we bring. Our major idea is to build gambling into arcade and video games and offer these titles through online casinos.

The development process is likely different to that found at competitor gambling game developers because for us there’s no one to learn from. We’re the first to build skill into an arcade in the right way, therefore balancing play and getting the hit frequency and betting cadence desirable is through trial and error. The genres of game are so vast that much of our development process is spent on building prototypes in order to promote or kill ideas for full development. Interesting fact - we kill more than we promote! 

How would you assess this particular year for Green Jade Games? Were there any specific victories by the company? Or maybe there were specific challenges you had to master?

There are many ways of measuring success, and I can point to successful investments and backers, or massive KPI growth year or year, or to the successful migration from our legacy platform to our new infrastructure. However, our greatest victory is in people; we’ve grown from a handful to 30 people as we on-board to support the massive growth we’ve got coming. The talent here gives me the greatest pleasure and excitement, with so many different thoughts and experiences to complement our future. Recruitment is also the biggest challenge too.

Finding the people that are passionate about solving complex challenges and being bold enough to take ownership isn’t as easy as I feel it should be!

Learning where to look and how to eke out the right response from candidates has been the greatest challenge to master.  

In your opinion, what are the major visionary differences that make Green Jade Games stand out among other competitors on the market? 

We’re not just a games company, we’re a community builder. The largest product we’ll build is that of an entire destination experience. Building the best games is no longer enough, the entertainment needle flickers but doesn’t stay elevated. Building a community transforms the sensation players feel when playing.

Knowing that their game round outcomes are driven and affected by their decisions is critical to enjoyment – both positive and negative! 

That is what makes us stand out – we think far beyond a game title; we believe in a very different future, one that is influenced by our dreams.

You obviously think outside the box when it comes to developing online casino slot games, and your unique concept of the K.O. Slots proves it. Could you please tell our readers a bit more about that concept?

Absolutely. Hammer of Fortune (HoF) was our first ever game and straight out the blocks it delivered an unrivalled game play experience. First off, we made the game ‘completable’. A contrarian concept in our industry but if we were to look at iGaming as being part of a Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMGC) market then having a shelf life for a game is not only ok, it is expected. We built HoF to play over 20 chapters of a story charting the coming of age of Brin as he rescued his village from a mythical Rock Troll… but that wasn’t the main feature; this game introduced skill into slots. Highly learnable, for sure, but still, if you failed to align the loot chests the money that had been calculated as yours would go back into the game to pay out to someone else when they themselves align (or back to you, if you’re fast enough!).

So the concept (whilst working fantastically and delivering the greatest returns on slots in which we’ve used it) was the enabler for skill in RNG games, proving that we can have a game play to a theoretical RTP with no adverse risk on the house, all the while rewarding players that make the right decisions. 

How do you evaluate the demand for the Arcade Games in the market?

I believe that if we asked the domestic European market what they wanted, they’d tell us ‘More games with greater entertainment and value’. We read through a dozen or so market research and questionnaire examples from the US that all concluded the same thing – players want greater control on the outcome of a game, and to have more influence on the experience. 

This doesn’t happen in a slot. The beauty of a slot is that you are completely at the mercy of the RNG and the enjoyableness is in NOT having to work for the outcome. Slots, whilst highly profitable, are only played by a small % of adults but when we look at hyper casual social games, mobile games and video games, the play stats are phenomenal. This is our audience – the adults with disposable income and a propensity to gamble.

With all that said, demand is for quality gaming experiences, and we create greater demand through executing professionally.

For me personally, this trend is very attractive, because Arcade games allow taking some well-known mechanics, and get some new experiences based on that. In your opinion, what are some of the most interesting Arcade games by Green Jade Games that our readers should check out? 

We’ve just come out of our awkward teenage years where no one was sure what we’d look like after the growth spurt! So, the games we built back in 2018 are titles we are fond of, but like the artwork you do when first learning to paint, it’s not the work you open your gallery with. In November 2020 we concluded that to make the games the players deserve, we had to invest in new technical game functionality and not only that, but that the game genre cannot be drip fed onto casino pages. The genre, Arcade, must be treated uniquely so that new players develop the right perception without the confusion of one game being interactive, and the game on the tile next to it being passive.

The Arcade game I am most excited about is probably our skill quiz game. This could be sentimental as I reminisce about nights in an English pub playing the machines with friends and feeling like a hero when lucky guessing the multiple-choice answer, with your friends never really sure if you knew the answer, or not! 

That said, we’ve got a hidden object series which I know sounds questionable, but trust me, I believe it could be our greatest success.

Do Arcade games have any particular tech specs or features that can be used to evaluate or compare the games? For example, slots have RTP rates, volatility levels, Max Win tech specs, etc. Or maybe skill is more important for Arcade games, and the more skillful you are, the more you win?

Great question. We’re at the forefront of this movement so determining the standards for these values is something we take a keen leadership role in.

All games still have a theoretical and provable RTP, no matter the level of skill, as RTP is measured as the payback over x number of plays, irrespective of whether that is one player of a billion. 

Like slots, we must deliver variance in gambling specifications as not everyone has the same appetite for risk. Even the same player can want a different experience at lunchtime as they would on Sunday evening.

The risk/reward decision is one that our industry needs to do a better job of educating the player on. Affiliates and casino review sites do a much better job of this than the actual shop window – the casino.

I should be told whether the hit frequency is theoretically 1 in 14 or 1 in 1.2. It makes a significant difference to my interpretation of the luck I had in a game session. 

Skill plays a part in some, but certainly not all, Arcade games for now. This is the greatest area for development, and it will be player led. Once we understand more about players' appetite for risk based on their abilities, we can invest appropriately but essentially the goal is always that the more skilful you are, the more you win. Think real-time payback in an eSports tournament for the level of complexity we’re shooting for. 

What peculiarities of work could you highlight when developing such types of games? How much time does it take to make one Arcade game, from idea to release? 

This varies massively and is dependent on so many factors. One game has been in development for two years, and we’re totally ok with that. The game will not see the light of day until we’re happy with it and there is always a chance that we kill it, too!

Others have gone from concept to certification in 8 to 10 weeks and this will be the most common cycle as we’ll build a large quantity of highly engaging market testers. The players’ feedback is everything when it comes to identifying what to build more of. 

Could you please tell our readers a bit more about the features of Green Jade Games’ latest products? 

Although I have focused my attention on our Arcade suite, lets pick some games that have gone out recently as they illustrate our diversity and ability to make all types of gambling entertainment games.

Cheeky Cheshire turned out to be a VIP favourite, especially with its slick buy-bonus feature. However, when developing this game we were hugely excited about doing portrait slot UI properly - using the full screen - so we got busy with what had to change to make it better and it was the reel spin. We made it 3x5 with the lines paying down rather than across so exact same game, just with a funky way to read it. With over 80% of players playing it on mobile, we’ve served them with an improved experience. Of course, if you’re rogue you can rotate it to landscape and play it as Vegas intended, but the options are there.

Prize Fighter KO was a mathematical challenge for us as we developed EVERWIN for the bonus round which gives the player a guaranteed win on every spin, increasing to the best win experienced for all remaining, whilst adding another spin too… even writing how it works gives me a headache! It makes for a somewhat volatile though potentially highly rewarding play. Some sessions you feel like the champ, others the chump. Still, it is our biggest KO game by a long way so definitely a player favourite.

From the world of Arcade comes Cash Smash. The gameplay in this one needs no introductions. As soon as any player worth their weight sees the game, they will know the objective. What I love about this one though is the ability to control how fast I bet without having to slow down the game play. I can bet once every 5 seconds, or 6 times a second, if I wish, depending on regulated market restrictions. Technically this is really hard to support but it’s a no-brainer for the customer when it comes to ensuring their game play isn’t interrupted based on a setting on bet frequency. With 100 levels, real skill influencing returns and a leaderboard to gloat on, this is more than a game, it’s a step change in entertainment. 

Ben, thank you so much for your time! The last question is, what online casino players should expect from Green Jade Games in the nearest future? What are the nearest releases of new titles that we should be waiting for? 

No thank you, it’s been a pleasure to share with you.

We’re blessed with amazing customers, some of whom are working closely with us on the introduction of an entirely new gambling lobby for Arcade. This is the community we’re investing into.

Enabling players to develop their online identity in iGaming and encouraging sharing, collaboration and of course, competition, we’re going to build something magical when transforming the world of gambling.

Into that lobby, I will share some game titles with you to pique your imagination… Knight’s Endless Run, Speedy Candy, Galaxy Wing, Fruit Slice and so many more I lose count.

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