In 2021, Catarina Larsson joined the team as MTG’s new Head of Corporate Sustainability. Here, she tells us about her role, the sustainability challenges and opportunities in the world of gaming, and some of the changes she’s observing across the industry.
What made you decide to join MTG?
When I got the opportunity to join MTG – a place where I could combine my love for gaming with my passion for sustainability – I knew I had to take it.
MTG has been around for a long time, and has had a really interesting sustainability journey – I wanted to play a part in shaping the new MTG with its pure focus on gaming.
What are your main responsibilities as MTG’s Head of Sustainability?
My main responsibilities are to govern and drive the progress of MTG’s sustainability strategy, and to communicate this with investors and external stakeholders as well as through sustainability reporting.
I work with existing and new companies within our portfolio to help them implement and further develop their own sustainability practices. I also help ensure that we understand and address new sustainability standards and requirements from governments, NGOs and other industry groups, both at a group level and across the portfolio.
Why does corporate sustainability matter in gaming?
Gaming is a part of everyday life for so many people, from professional esports players, to more casual gamers, to people who wouldn’t identify as gamers but who love to play word games on their commute. We have a responsibility to each and every one of the people who engage with our industry and our products.
The games that we create and provide have to be sustainable and responsible, both in terms of their gameplay and features and also in terms of how they are created. If they’re not, our industry won’t survive the ever-changing requirements of governments, employees and players.
What do you think are some of the biggest sustainability challenges that the gaming industry faces right now?
There are a number of sustainability challenges facing the games industry; it’s important to discuss these at an industry level, and to address these in a practical and thoughtful way.
There are currently a number of important conversations taking place around talent within the games industry. The industry has grown so quickly, with some incredible games being published year after year across platforms. However, that growth has not always translated into creating company cultures and workplaces which are robust, sustainable and inclusive – and this needs to change.
Without the right people, there would be no games and it’s critical the industry remembers this. We’re seeing positive signs of shifts away from things like crunch culture in game development, and I hope that will continue to become the new normal. We’re also seeing some inspiring developments across the MTG portfolio. Hutch prides itself on a promise of zero crunch and has recently begun a four-day working week trial, while InnoGames is encouraging salary transparency across the industry by making its employees’ salary bands public.
It’s also important that we reflect the diversity of our player bases, and attract, develop and retain diverse and inclusive talent. At MTG, we’re on a mission to build a more diverse workforce across our group and have committed to a diversity goal of reaching a total level of 40% representation of employees who identify as female and non-binary across our workforce, up from 24% in 2021.
Another timely conversation is taking place around the importance of parental education and controls. The way games are monetized, structured and published is changing; the industry needs to increase transparency on how these mechanics function, so that parents have enough information to make informed decisions and best protect their children while playing games.
Who are your professional inspirations?
My professional inspirations are the other Heads of Sustainability that I’ve met throughout my career. They’ve all found ways to incorporate sustainability into their organizations through strategic planning, innovative thinking and a healthy dose of determination – and I hope to do the same at MTG.
What do you think are the biggest opportunities for MTG when it comes to sustainability, both over the next year and beyond?
I believe that the biggest opportunities lie within our mission to build an international gaming village with an ecosystem of knowledge-sharing across our portfolio. Through sharing knowledge and expertise across our companies, including sustainability actions and insights, we have the potential to create one of the strongest gaming organizations with regards to sustainability.
Our companies have strong cultures and teams all of their own, and sustainability is a priority for them as well. Together, and coupled with MTG’s own objectives and targets, we can lead from the front in the games industry. This is a priority for us over the next couple of years, and we’re developing the infrastructure needed so that we can start effectively measuring our performance against sustainability objectives and targets.
What’s happening within the MTG portfolio that excites you from a sustainability perspective?
There are some great things happening within the organization right now. The Hutch four-day work week trial, which they’re doing alongside a number of other businesses in the UK, is a really interesting and exciting project and it could have an impact on how the industry operates. I’m excited to see how that turns out. And as well as publishing the salary bands of around 80% of its employees in a push for greater transparency, InnoGames is also continuing to refine its hybrid working model, and has now introduced ‘office weeks’ four times a year to continue to build on its company culture.
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
That I have colleagues in all parts of the world, who all bring very different views and experiences to the table. This, combined with an ever-changing industry and set of requirements around every facet of sustainability means you’re never standing still, which I love.
Lastly, what games (one mobile and one non-mobile) are you loving at the moment?
I’m admittedly a bit biased when it comes to mobile games (which is easy when there are so many good ones out there!) but I find myself playing Sunrise Village by InnoGames a lot. I really like the storytelling and visuals. Outside of mobile, I’m working through a large backlog of games and am currently playing Return of the Obra Dinn. I love puzzle point-and-click games from smaller studios.