Players never seem to ask or care about where slots come from. The only thing that really matters is that they are available, fun, and exciting. So where do they come from? It’s not like they just appear out of thin air. The truth is that they are created by armies of developers and designers with nothing better to do.
The most important thing you need to know about online casino games it that they don’t belong to any of the casinos, except for a few rare ones, they are provided to them by other companies. I will do my best to explain their relationships with the casinos, what the different suppliers are known for, how they are allowed to supply games in different jurisdictions, and a lot more.
There are probably somewhere around 500 iGaming casino software suppliers active at any given moment. From time to time, this number changes because of mergers and acquisitions and I don’t even attempt to keep track of it all but I do pay attention to some specific big deals.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at what’s going on with game providers these days.
What makes a great online casino game provider?
Gambling online is still relatively new compared to other industries. Sure, it’s not in its infancy any more and there are many companies that have been around from the start in the mid-90s. As technology develops, so does the games. We’ve come a long way from the 3×3 grid slots with a single payline…
So, what makes a game provider great? A few things. I take into consideration how long they have been on the scene, how many games they produce regularly, the quality of games, but above all, how innovative they are.
Online casinos are a dime a dozen these days and many have discovered that it’s easier to carve out market shares by catering towards specific demographics rather than trying a broad approach. Game providers have of course taken notice, so many of them target these casinos.
The really big game providers are basically everywhere and will continue to be present for as long as they make money, and THAT they do. I mentioned already at the beginning of this text that casinos “rent” games from the providers. I wasn’t kidding.
Casino operators obviously have to pay a fee for this privilege. Usually it’s somewhere between 10% and 15% of the revenue made on the providers’ games. The big casinos normally get better deals since they attract more players.
Game providers spend most their money on getting the best developers and designers, and marketing. For example, when NetEnt released Planet of the Apes in October 2017, they rented out a cinema in Malta and had actors in ape costumes on horseback. That must have cost a pretty penny…
Top online casino game providers
My list of top online casino game providers will obviously be biased, but I will motivate my selections and hopefully win the hearts and minds of my readers. Most of these will be evident for all the right reasons, but maybe I will surprise you with a few of these.
I’m not going to go into who owns who. Mergers and acquisitions happen all the time in this industry. If I would dive into that topic, it would probably not even be current by the time I finish writing this page.
Okay, so in no particular order and for my own reasons, these are the top game providers (and why):
- Microgaming – No online casino is complete without the support of Microgaming in my book. They have been around since 1994 and were the first ones to develop true online casino software. The company has been able to stay at the top of the industry through many of its creative innovations. For example, they created the first progressive jackpot system across multiple games and their Mega Moolah slot currently holds the world record for biggest online slot win ever at close to €19 million.
The trophy cabinet back in their main office must be bursting at the seems by now since Microgaming looks like they are picking up new awards every year.
Even though Microgaming is already established as the provider with the most and biggest jackpots, they are looking at taking it to the next level with the introduction of WowPot slots, featuring a whopping starting seed of €2 million! Here are a few of their greatest hits:
Mega Moolah: The all-time GOAT of jackpot slots!
Immortal Romance: An incredible adventure game, with vampires!
Jurassic Park: Feel the T-Rex roar in your ears!
Terminator 2: Win up to 88,000x your bet!
House of Dragons: Multipliers and wilds, yes!
- NetEnt – Another giant in the online gambling industry. Founded back in 1996, NetEnt is a leading provider of all sorts of gaming solutions to the biggest casinos online. Over the years, they have pumped out success after success and used to hold a world record for the biggest online jackpot win of close to €18 million on their Mega Fortune slot.
Ever heard of the Avalanche Feature? These guys came up with it! It’s one of the first innovations that almost broke the online gambling section of the internet.
These guys have made so much money over the years that they have been able to release licensed games regularly. By licensed games I mean games that are based on movies, TV-series, rock bands, etc. I shouldn’t have to say more than Guns N’ Roses to paint the picture.
In my opinion, here are a few of their greatest hits:
Mega Fortune: Still one of the best jackpot slots out there!
Dead or Alive II: One of the most volatile games ever made!
Starburst: Needs no explanation!
Gonzo’s Quest: Avalanche! Avalanche! Avalanche!
Blood Suckers: 98% RTP, nuff said!
- Big Time Gaming – In 2021 Big Time Gaming (BTG) will celebrate its first decade of existence. During those 10 years, however, the company has gone from strength to strength and won several awards, including Best iGaming Software Experience in 2017. They may not have the same extensive library of games as some of their competitors, but when you’re the creator of the Megaways mechanic, you don’t have to. The competition will simply come to you and ask to use your innovation on their slots! But that’s not all, many online casinos even have a tab dedicated specifically to Megaways slots. This is a remarkable achievement.
Megaways has revolutionised slots with its 117,649 possible ways to win, but it doesn’t stop there. Many of BTG’s titles are very volatile with thousands of x your bet in potential payouts.
I stand in awe of these guys and what they have managed to accomplish in such a short time. Here are a few of their greatest hits:
Dragon Born: This was the very first slot to feature Megaways!
Bonanza: Here’s the slot that put Megaways on the map!
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Megaways: Win up to a cool million!
White Rabbit Megaways: Next level with 248,832 ways to win!
The Final Countdown: Wilds, cloning wilds, multiplier wilds, free spins!
- Quickspin – I feel compelled to point out that these guys are nuts! But in a good way and you’re about to find out why in a few moments. Their slogan is “we create the world’s most awesome video slots.” I’m not sure that I agree 100% but they definitely have the most insane slot in any market. Keep reading…
Quickspin was launched in 2011 and set off production at a neck-breaking pace of releasing a new slot every month. In fact, because of this frequency, some new casinos have signed on to exclusively offer only Quickspin games. That’s a really big deal! You can easily recognise their games from the stunning graphics. They are not holding back on anything and their games run superbly on any device you play on.
This is where it gets nuts. In 2018 the company released a slot that is so volatile that I’m often wondering why any online casino would even dare to include it in its roster of games. I definitely put it among a few of their greatest hits:
Eastern Emeralds: Win up to €7,560,000 on a single spin, NOT jackpot!
Joker Strike: 98.11% RTP, nuff said!
Sticky Bandits: Massive wilds!
Hammer Of Vulcan: Win up to 20,000x!
Dwarfs Gond Wild: The craziest wilds you’ll ever see during free spins!
- Playtech – Some software developers focus on a niche, others on innovative mechanics, and then you have Playtech which refused to fall in under any specific category and basically raised its middle finger and said “screw it, we will do it all and then some!” Their portfolio of entertainment includes online slots and table games, poker software, sports betting, live casino, bingo, as well as casual and fixed odds games.
Playtech came into being in 1999 in Tartu, Estonia, of all places, and has since become a serious powerhouse in iGaming. They have offices in 19 countries, employ close to 6,000 people, serve 140 online gambling license holders, and they have more than 200 titles in its ever-growing portfolio. These guys are huge.
Here are some of their greatest hits:
Age Of The Gods: Four free spins modes with extra wilds and win multipliers!
The Matrix: Great movie! Great slot!
King Kong: Another great movie slot with awesome free spins!
Gladiator: Gladiator jackpot bonus, I AM entertained!
Miss Fortune: Respin those reels, baby!
- Yggdrasil – Named after the world tree from good old Norse mythology, it’s no wonder their best series of slots deals with Vikings. Still, the company would prefer that its name be more synonymous with world-class entertainment and innovation. They claim to strive to surprise and surpass, and in many ways I would say they do.
Since its launch in 2013, the company has gone from strength to strength and racked up several EGR awards, including the prestigious Game Provider of the Year in 2016 AND 2017.
Their slots have an unmistaken layout and a ton of helpful settings. You have a lot of control of how you like to play. Slow it down to turtle speed or go all they up to rabbit. Just remember that slow and steady won that raise, but it doesn’t mean that you will.
These are a few of their greatest hits:
Vikings Go Berserk: This slot set the infamous series off!
Big Bucks Bandits Megaways: I’m not gonna hide it, I love Megaways!
Giza Infinity Reels: It has Infinity Reels, nuff said!
Tut’s Twister: 97.1% RTP!
Jackpot Raiders: Five different jackpots in one game!
- Bally – These guys have been creating slot machines and developed gaming technology since 1968. Their first game was actually a wooden pinball machine called Ballyhoo. Indeed, Bally has been around since long before the internet which means that if you have played a slot in a real-world casino, chances are that it was produced by Bally.
The company has built on their knowledge and experience and is a fierce competitor among online casino game developers. There are those who will say that these guys bought their way into the online gaming scene, but I would disagree. Even it’s true, who cares?
Every Bally game have great mechanics, brilliant graphics, sweet bonus rounds, and pretty entertaining music.
Here are some of their greatest hits:
Anchorman The Legend Of Ron Burgundy: Amazing cut scenes!
Hot Shot Progressive: Win up to 40,000x!
Cirque Du Soleil Amaluna: Up to 12 wilds guaranteed during free spins!
Titanic: Pick-me bonus with great multipliers!
Michael Jackson King Of Pop: Smooth Criminal free spins!
- Betsoft – It must be boring to win award after award. I’m guessing the bigwigs at Betsoft have run out of thank you speeches and next time they win they will probably just send an intern to pick up the trophy. Good luck finding space for it back in the head office…
Betsoft specialize in slots with 3D cinematographic presentation. Trust me, you will know when you’re playing one of their games because it will look amazing on any device. It’s almost like you’re looking at a movie made by Pixar Animations. If you think there’s a lot of effort going into making a game, you’re right. And these guys have more than 150 of them, using this proprietary technology. Amazing.
Many of their games are incredibly friendly towards beginners with fairly low volatility and high RTP. Several are higher than 97%.
These are a few of their greatest hits:
After Night Falls: Win in all manner of ways and double up with a coin toss!
Spinfinity Man: 7×7 grid with cascading wins!
Take Olympus: Guaranteed action every 10 spins!
Total Overdrive: Sticky multiplier which increases with every winning spin!
Safari Sam 2: Stacked wins, wilds and more!
- Play’n GO – I hope you didn’t think I would forget about these guys. How could I possibly leave out the game developer with the humble slogan “we are game”? It feels like you can’t register an account at any online casino these days without coming across games by Play’n GO, and that’s a good thing because their games are awesome.
All their games are tailored to fit on any device so you will never have a problem if you decide to go for a walk and play some casino games. Over the years these guys have produced some really iconic titles and their portfolio grows bigger every year. I don’t want to ruin the surprise too much. You should set aside some time to explore slots by Play’n GO.
Check these greatest hits:
Reactoonz: I shouldn’t have to explain this!
Agent Destiny: Ever heard of Archer? You’ll love this slot!
Honey Rush: Innovative game layout!
Reactoonz 2: Obviously!
Twisted Sister: I wanna rock!
- Evolution Gaming – If there’s any monopoly in iGaming, it would be Evolution gaming. This company doesn’t produce and slots but chances are that you have played their games anyway. Have you ever played in a live casino against a real dealer? Then I dare say that you played at one of their tables. They started with a pretty small studio in Riga, Latvia, but has since grown to more than 100 tables active around the clock.
You’ll find that most of their tables are the same games but in different languages and at different stakes. The most popular games are obviously Roulette, Black Jack, and Baccarat, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some other crazy, funny games out there which totally break all the rules of conventional fun.
These are the greatest hits:
Monopoly Live: Combines a big wheel with dice rolls and video animation!
Crazy Time: Big wheel, bonus games and multipliers!
Lightning Roulette: Win up to an additional 500x!
Football Studio: Two cards; Bet on home, away, or draw!
Deal Or No Deal: You have to see it to believe it!
- Pragmatic Play – Who said that you have to have been around for a long time to be successful as an online casino games provider? Probably someone, but the boys and gals at Pragmatic Play didn’t listen. The company was only founded in 2015 but has already established itself as staple in most of the biggest casinos online.
They also offer live casino games which makes them one of the only competitors to Evolution Gaming. Especially now after Evolution Gaming bought NetEnt. But enough about that. Pragmatic Play have produced some of the funniest slots out there, proving that you can be late to the table and still enjoy a ribeye, if you know what I mean. I’m not even sure I know. Suffice to say, Pragmatic Play are here to stay. Their games keep getting better and better and I’m looking forward to see what the future holds for this company. Also, this is possibly the only game provider that will show you how volatile the slot is.
Here are some of their greatest hits:
Wolf Gold: Mega Jackpot, nuff said!
Mustang Gold: Win up to 12,000x and four different jackpots!
Great Rhino Megaways: A great slot got upgraded to 200,704 ways to win!
Chilli Heat: Free spins, respins, and progressive jackpots!
The Dog House: High volatility for when you’re in the mood!
- Nolimit City – Like so many other companies in iGaming, Nolimit City is what happens when a group of experienced pros get together to try something new. You can tell immediately just by looking at the game icon in a casino lobby that it’s from Nolimit City. They have a very distinct design.
With less than a decade under their belt, this game provider has quickly become a favourite among online casinos. If you’re receiving promo emails from your casino, then it’s just a matter of time until they announce a Nolimit City network promotion, usually with some pretty decent prices. I’ve even played a few myself and bagged both cash and free spins.
One of the advantages of being a young company is that they never had to upgrade their games from adobe flash. All of their games are developed with the latest HTML5 technology, which is more or less industry standard these days. They are also behind the new xWays function, their own system of winning in multi-ways.
Take a gander at some of their greatest hits:
East Coast vs West Coast: Combines xWays with xNudge!
Dragon Tribe: Win up to 27,000x!
Punk Rocker: Buy your way to the insane free spin rounds!
San Quentin: Win up to 150,000x, nuff said!
Book Of Shadows: The best read out there, believe me!
Which are the best online casino game developers?
Well, only you can answer that since I don’t know your definition of “the best.” Every online casino game developer have their own style. The one thing they all have in common is that they aim to produce games that are fun to play. A lot of players want games with plenty of bells and whistles in terms of graphics, animations, and sound effects. Personally, I prefer games that are a bit on the simpler side.
Also, I look for innovation and payouts. Have you noticed that a few themes permeate casinos to the point of almost making it boring, and a bit sad? How many titles start with “Book of…” and how many slots can you make based on Egypt, pirates, the Amazons, and Greek mythology?
I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these days we will have the possibility to play “Book Of Zeus In The Amazons VS Ra And The Zombie Pirates: Featuring Avalanche Mega-Cluster Ways.” Fine! I would still play it, but I would do so ironically…
That said, innovation like slots with Megaways, Avalanche, Cluster Pays, Infinity Reels, Linking Reels, and so on will always have a special place in my heart, but it sure would be more fun to see the outside the aforementioned, “standard,” themes. Don’t you agree?
When it comes to payouts there are essentially two main routes you can go. You can either focus on playing games with high RTP and low volatility, meaning that you will hit smaller wins but more frequently, or the total opposite. Obviously, there are plenty of slots that fall outside of this narrowing down, but in general, I’m pretty accurate on this one.
I’m a staunch advocate of responsible gaming in the sense that you should never play beyond your means, but we’re ultimately talking about flirting with Lady Luck. I have already mentioned my strategy for playing slots so I won’t go into it here.
I like to go after progressive jackpots and big wins. That’s me. Maybe you prefer to play differently, and that’s your prerogative. You’ve probably guessed by now that I prefer slots over table games and live casino, but that’s not to say that I don’t stray from my path every now and then.
Are online casino games rigged?
No! They. Are. Not. If you have been trying to find proof of online casino games being rigged, you’ve probably stumbled upon some seriously angry post in some forum somewhere. Please understand that all of these are players that are venting their frustrations.
I can think of several reasons just from the top of my head for why it goes against any provider’s self-interest to tweaking their games, and why it’s even impossible:
- License – It costs a truck load of money to pay for licenses. There’s no way any game provider would risk losing its license just to make a few extra bucks.
- Verification – All serious game providers have their software audited by third party companies. Nothing gets passed these guys.
- Reputation – If you get a bad reputation no one will play your games. Casinos will not want to offer them and you won’t be making any money.
I’m sure there are other justifications for why any game provider would want to steer clear of tampering with its slots and table games. Bottom line, it’s simply not worth it.
Behave when you speak with customer support
It’s never fun when you lose. Landing two scatters and watching the rest of the reels give you nothing can be heart-breaking after a long session of playing. But here’s what you should NEVER do. NEVER jump on the live chat to vent your frustration. Calling some poor customer support agent everything under the sun is NEVER a good idea.
Because of the relationship between game developers and casinos, complaining to customer support is basically the same as yelling at the people who sold you popcorn in the cinema after you didn’t like the movie you watched. They have nothing to do with it.
Game developers going mobile
Remember when there was a direct correlation between the size of your mobile phone and how cool you were? The small the phone, the cooler you were. Then something happened and screens got bigger and bigger as phones became viable for connecting to the internet.
Along with it came a demand from online casino players. We wanted to be able to take the casino with us wherever we went, and the industry answered our call. There was only one problem. Most games were programmed to be supported by Adobe Flash, which if you recall, had to be updated every week (at least it felt like it).
Not to mention that most phones weren’t even compatible with Flash. Something had to be done and the first company to step up to the plate was Play’n GO. They were the first to break new ground and develop games with HTML5 which runs smoothly on virtually all handheld devices.
A case can also be made for NetEnt, taking things to the next level with their Touch Platform, specifically built for all manner of mobile gadgets.
The introduction of HTML5 came with the added benefits of not having to download clunky software that had to be updated every so often, AND it allowed Mac-/Apple-users to become part of the scene. Up until then it was really difficult to find software that worked on this machines.
Casino software, the next frontier
Truth is, the next frontier has already been around for many years, but just like most technology there haven’t really been any viable solutions until now. Casino software developers are always looking towards the future. So far I would argue that live casino has pushed the boundaries further than anything else when it comes to tech, which means that the next natural leap forward would be Virtual Reality (VR) casinos.
Even though VR casinos have been around since 2013-2014, they have failed to gain any serious traction. The obstacles are many and the cons still outweigh the pros. But it doesn’t meant that VR casinos should be ruled out just yet.
What you need to know about VR casinos
Just like Play’n GO were the first to focus on getting their games on mobile devices, Evoplay Entertainment is the software developer to look out for when it comes to VR casinos. They have only been around since 2017 but have already produced more than 60 slots, table, and instant games.
Their pronounced goal is to become an industry pioneer in the development of 3D and VR slot games. And it certainly look like they could be well on the way to achieving this goal. If you have never tried any of their slots, I would suggest trying Dungeon: Immortal Evil.
You don’t need to push your furniture to the side or buy an expensive headset to play. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you’re a regular gamer with a taste for games like Dungeons And Dragons or Eye Of The Beholder, you’re in for a treat.
There are still a lot of hurdles to overcome before VR casinos become the next standard in home entertainment. The obvious one is that you have to invest a lot. You will need a high-power computer with the latest graphics card and a VR headset. I mention computer because neither Xbox nor PlayStation have fully opened their platforms for online gambling.
Fair enough, you can play VR casinos without buying the Oculus Rift and enjoy it in 3D on your computer, but that kind of defeats the purpose in my book.