Luke on Casino software providers

People generally understand how Casinos and slots work, how you use bonuses and what makes a good Casino. But the one area they find a little hard to understand is what the connection is between Casinos and software providers. Below are the questions I get asked the most and the answers I tend to give about them.


What’s the deal with software providers?

Ever since there started being online casinos in the late 90s, there have been software providers whose business it is to provide the games that Casinos offer to their customers and which their customers enjoy playing day-in-day-out.

To start with there were just a handful of them, with Microgaming laying claim to have been the original one, creating the first-ever online casino back in 1994.

But as more and more casinos appeared and more and more players signed up to play at them, the more demand there was for a greater variety of games. So over the years more software providers have emerged from all around the globe. The winners of course, are us players who have now have more choice than ever before.

What do they actually do?

How times have changed. When I was a kid the more video games you played, the more of a geek you were and the less chances you had of getting a date to the school prom.

These days you’ve got people playing video games for a living in televised/streamed tournaments watched by adoring fans- they’re sort of techy rockstars!

Casino software providers are like a cross between the companies who make video games (eg, EA Sports) and those who provide the consoles for you to play them on (eg. Playstation).

So a company like Microgaming will make the games but also provide the software/coding to the Casino that allows you to actually play the game at a particular Casino. In some cases you’ll have to download the software on to your computer before you can play the games and in other cases, the software is set up in a way you don’t have to; you just open up the game and it’s ready to play.

What type of Casino games do software providers make?

Casinos mostly have a demand for slots, so that’s what the software providers focus the most on making. Some of the biggest providers, like Microgaming, Play n’Go and NetEnt have made 100s of different slots.

Some of them are branded slots based on real life people, movies, TV shows, others on more generic themes like dragons or cops and robbers. In some cases, providers have created iconic brands by making a series of games: like Microgaming with Immortal Romance, Elk Studios with the Sam series and NetEnt with Jack Hammer.

But the same providers make other games beyond just slots, including video casino games like Roulette and Blackjack and Live Casino versions of the same popular table games. Or other games like Keno or virtual sports.

Some of these providers also explore products beyond Casino games. Microgaming for example also provide the platform for betting companies to provide Poker and Sportsbooks.

Why do Casinos have multiple software providers?

Think of the pubs in the area where you live in. They will each have a partnership with one or more different breweries.

So the Red Lion may just work with the one brewery to provide three or four different beers but the Fox and Hound may have several different breweries as partners so it’s in a position to provide you with 15 different beers, or ‘golden barley juice’ as my footgolf buddy Shane calls it. (yeah, I don’t think it puts his girlfriend off the scent either just calling it that).

Casinos work in a similar way. A start-up with few customers may begin life having just one software provider on board so will have a somewhat limited choice of games.

In contrast, the biggest Casinos like LeoVegas or CasinoEuro have ten or more different providers on board. It explains why they have over 600 different slots available.

Who are the main providers?

It’s a competitive marketplace out there these days.
Microgaming and Playtech, who are amongst the ones to have been around for the longest and therefore have the most games, history and brand awareness are generally regarded as the two giants.

Very often Casinos who choose to have just one or two software providers on board will go with one or both of them because they have a real ‘turn-key’ product that covers all the bases and means the Casino can leave the games and tech side of things with them and focus on other stuff.

Like having a super cool website, looking after their customers and coming up with new cool promos.

But the software provider who’s really made a name for itself in terms of being associated with top quality is NetEnt.
They’ve probably made more slots that have become household names than anyone else: Gonzo’s Quest, Starburst, Planet of the Apes and Jack Hammer are all theirs.

NetEnt release numerous new slots every year and each new release is a big deal in the Casino industry with trailers of the game circulating on the internet and websites speculating what the new slot may have in terms of theme and features.

Evolution Gaming, IGT, Play N’ Go, Bally, Nextgen, Barcrest and Cryptologic are amongst some of the other better-known providers who have been around for a while.

But the last few years has seen the emergence of some new kids on the block with great new ideas, wacky themes, super neat graphics and creative bonus features. This includes suppliers like Yggdrasil, Quickspin and Elk Studios.

What’s the difference between the different providers?

Most of the different providers have a mixed portfolio of slots. So some are generic ones, others are branded slots, some are Progressive Jackpot slots. They vary in complexity, number of bonus features and potential winnings.

Personally I prefer to try out as many slots as possible and play the ones I like the most irrespective of who makes them. But my girlfriend Emma for example has a soft spot for NetEnt and Elk Studios.

She says she can’t really put her finger on it but knows as soon as she starts playing a game that it was made by NetEnt or Elk and isn’t really fussed about playing games made by other people.

Over the next few weeks we’ll look at some of the major providers in much greater detail in terms of what they do, which their top slots are distinctive trademarks they have.