Casino software is one of the most innovative sections of the gambling industry, let alone the online casino industry. It’s one of those aspects that are always changing and there will be companies out there that are always competing with one and other to try and make the best range of games.
In the current climate there is a huge emphasis on making games that not only look the part but also function on a variety of different platforms. For example, mobile casino is rapidly catching up the world of desktop games and some casinos are even reporting that the majority of their traffic now comes from mobile games.
What you need to understand is that the vast majority of online casinos don’t actually make their own casino games. Instead they outsource this to a number of developers who make the games and then its up to the casino to use whichever developer they think will suit their demographic best. This in turn allows companies, such as PlayTech, Microgaming and NetEnt to solely concentrate on making the best possible casino games, but it also adds competition and with competition often comes some outstanding products.
If you’ve ever used multiple online casinos you will see that many have the same or very similar games to choose from, especially when it comes to slots. In fact, slots will likely make up for over 80% of the total number of games on any online casino, resulting in it being the general area that many developers will target to try and entice casinos to use their programs over their rivals.
Throughout this article we will be looking at what some of the biggest casino developers offer in terms of games and try to decipher where they have been successful and why online casinos may decide to choose them over a competitor.
There are three main platforms that a software developer must consider when making any of their casino games; download, instant play and mobile.
Downloadable games are pretty straightforward in that the game must be available to the casino on a download basis, allowing players to download said casino and then play the games on their computer via that route. A few years ago this was probably the most popular form of gaming for online casinos, but the download has been phased out somewhat by the instant play versions.
Instant play games allows players to essentially play straight from their browser, without the need of having to download a casino. It means that all the games are hosted online via the casino client and then players simply log in and start playing. As players have become more reluctant to download casino programs, this proved to be a natural progression for online casinos to allow them to play quickly and also access as many games as possible.
The most recent format of online casino games has been that of mobile. The mobile format has followed suit from pretty much all types of gambling in that it’s starting to become the most popular form of online casino. Obviously, as with anything mobile related, it takes a fair bit of designing to make sure that games are not only compatible with all mobile devices, but are also highly functional, without losing features.
RNG (Random Number Generator)
Each and every casino game that you play online will have what’s called a Random Number Generator. This is essentially a microchip inserted into each slot to decipher which numbers or symbols lands at a specific time. One thing that you must understand straight away is that the RNG cannot be worked out or ‘cracked’ as some people will have you know. It is theoretically possible for the same combination of numbers of numbers of symbols to land hundreds of times consecutively, although unlikely.
The RNG will constantly be reeling through numbers with each game that you play. Even if you essentially aren’t spinning, the RNG will not stop and the combinations that can be selected will be based on the number of reels and the number of symbols that are in play. It’s widely though that each RNG will generate a value of between 0 and 4 billion, which then is turned into symbols that appear on your slot. With each press of the spin button you essentially select a certain number from that player value and in turn will give you the symbols that you see appear on your slot machine.
Each slot will come with an RNG attached and a casino governing body, usually the Casino Board of Control will regulate the algorithm that is used for each machine. It’s their job to test each algorithm and make sure that the RNG hasn’t been tampered with to offer a bias to the casino and also is 100% fair for casino players. If a game does not comply with these measures, then it will be removed.
If that has your brain frazzled, then maybe the best way to describe it is by offering up a fairly simple example.
Let’s say that the slot you are playing on has three reels in total and on each of those reels has 10 symbols, which it could theoretically land on. The find the total number of combinations for the 3 reels we simply multiply the number of outcomes on each reel by themselves. So, 10 x 10 x 10 = 1,000 combinations.
The RNG will take the combinations as values, as mentioned earlier, giving each a number from 1-1000. It’s the able to spin through each number several times within just a millisecond. As soon as you click the ‘stop’ button (‘spin’ on most slots) you will be stop on a number and that number will throw up the number to the combination you see on your screen.
Whilst this is a dubbed down version of what goes on – we certainly aren’t going to go into exact algorithms in this article, as it would take too long – you should be able to grasp the basic concept at least to realise that they are completely random and simply cannot be manipulated.
As we mentioned earlier, these days there are many software developers in the online casino industry that are all plying for the online casinos trade. Below we have listed some of the most popular and also highlighted what they offer to their potential clients.
Microgaming are one the biggest software provider in the industry and as result they offer the largest number of games for an online casino. In fact, they have over 850 titles in all making them a fantastic proposition for most potential clients.
The company are very diverse in terms of the games that they offer and whilst they do include branded games such as Terminator 2, The Dark Knight Rises and Playboy, they are probably best known for designing games that have become house hold names, without necessarily having a brand attached to them. For example, game such as Avalon, Thunderstruck and Immortal Romance are just as well known in the casino industry as the brands mentioned above.
They’re also a company who have worked tirelessly on creating dozens of progressive jackpot games, in fact they boast over 40 at the time of writing with their biggest success being that of Mega Moolah, which in 2009 set a world record payout of €6.37miillion for one lucky player.
Whilst Playtech aren’t as big as Microgaming in terms of the number of games that they offer, they are by no means a small software developer, which is highlighted by the number of online casinos that actually use their software. They work a little differently than most providers in that they actually bring in games form much smaller, independent companies and sell them on as their own.
The company are also boast one of the most up to date catalogue of games and they claim to increase their portfolio every year by offering at least 50 new titles for casino companies to choose from. Their acquisition of Ash Gaming has also seen a boost in their portfolio, which now includes over 500 games in total.
It’s clear that Playtech invest a lot more time and resources into creating more engaging slots than most companies. They also work closely with a load of brands including Marvel, MGM, NBC, Universal and HBO, to name but a few. These games are often the most popular from any casino, so the rights to these are simply huge.
NetEnt will offer a casino a much more personal set up and whilst they aren’t as big as the two mention preciously, they have gone on to make some of the biggest grossing games of all time. Their catalogue is complied of around 200 games in total, but they also boast that they are one of the world’s most prominent casino operators, working with over 100 brands from around the globe.
With the NetEnt platform the number of games will obviously be less than most, but the quality is also higher than most. Some of their most noticeable independent titles include Gonzo’s Quest, Mega fortune, Jack Hammer 2 and Starburst. But, they also have some brands such as Aliens, South Park and Dracula lining their casino software.
IGT are the daddy in terms of the volume of games that they produce. In total they have a staggering 3,600 ranging from slots, table games, progressives and virtual games. There is little doubt that IGT have the biggest range of games in the industry, but that doesn’t always mean that they are full of quality, which they most certainly aren’t.
With that many games its tough to really control what you’ve got to offer and what we found with IGT is that they had a lot of dead wood. Whilst 3,600 games is a more than impressive number, it’s certainly not a true reflection on the standard of the games, which is lacking with a lot of those games. Going head to head with a company such as Microgaming in terms of ‘quality’ games would be a close run in our opinion at least.
That being said, there is no denying that IGT are the most active company in the software developers market bringing out hundreds of new games each and every year. The size of company now means that their workforce is almost double that of Microgaming and that in turn allows them to create more games, which is always going to be appealing for online casinos.
Gamesys are the smallest developer of our picks, but have still managed to create some pretty amazing games. The don’t really have the branded titles that a lot of their competitors have, but in turn they have managed to make some classics in the industry such as Secrets of Phoenix, Nuts and bolts and Wonderland.
They probably work as much within the online bingo industry as much as the online casino, where the developers above are much more heavily into casino. They’ve still managed to affiliate themselves with some top casino brands however, such as Virgin Casino, Starspins and Casers.
One thing that you need to be aware of when it comes to online casinos is that the casino actually has the option of choosing multiple developers if they wish. In fact, it’s very rare these days for an online casino to only use one software developer and if they do then its usually one of the larger brands above.
The advantages to this are undoubtedly having the pick of games from more than one developer. Whilst you may see several online casinos with the same games, you will only ever see one developer have their individual games, which then means the online casino can literally hand pick the games that they want to include. This works well for the casino as it means they can include only the highest quality of games, whereas is they could only choose one, having someone such as IGT for example with over 3,000 games to choose from would likely get overwhelming for many casino players and in turn, put them off playing.
The downside to this is that the casino wont be able to offer a download version of their casino. The way it works is that they’ll need to upload each game to their server, but when downloading, it would require the player to make several downloads from each developer. That’s one of the main reasons why many casinos concentrate on instant play browser based games, rather than the download option.