Slot Developers 101
Since the dawn of online slots, software developers have been busy advancing the game, bringing new features, and introducing new technology, and the healthy competition in this ever-growing market is driving innovation. You might be familiar with the big players in this field. Like any modern capitalist marketplace, two of three big players dominate as they try to create a monopoly. This is true of the slots development game, but don’t overlook the little guys. Often, the smaller companies are where you’ll find the real risk-takers, and with so many of our favourite games come from today.
Slot Providers Galore
Some slot providers are known for one trait, whilst some have a reputation for another. There are literally thousands of slot games in existence today and more and more developers enter the scene every year. Here’s a list of the main players in this field, and some examples of what they’ve brought to the table. The age of the Internet and online gambling really opened up space for far more ideas to emerge. There has never been a more eclectic mix of slot games makers out there as there is today.
Ainsworth Game Technology
This Australian game technology company was founded in 1995 by Leonard Hastings Ainsworth and has been growing steadily since. Ainsworth Game Technology products are now available in 50 countries, and the company employs around 500 people. Len – as he’s known to peers and friends – has been inducted into the Australian gaming industry’s Gaming Hall of Fame, as well as the American Gaming Hall of Fame. The developer is famous for its mystery jackpot games such as Big Hit Jackpots and Big Chief Mystery. It also makes several licensed slots including King Kong and Pac-Man Wilo Edition.
Amatic Industries is an Austrian-based slot maker that has been making games for the international casino market since 1993. Along with the production of online slots and cabinets for land-based casinos, Amatic makes multiplayer systems and server-based video lottery terminals. The company also offers customised jackpot solutions and individually adaptable, modular casino management systems around the world. Its multi-game Performer Grand Arc cabinet was the winner of the Gold Dice Award in 2015. For online slots fans, the standout game title is Arising Phoenix – a Greek mythology-themed slot with a large jackpot of up to two million coins available.
APEX Gaming Technology
Another Austrian-headquartered company, APEX Gaming has been around since 2003. The company also runs subsidiaries in Albania, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Macedonia, Slovakia and Serbia. APEX makes absolutely everything to do with the casino business, including card shufflers, tables games and casino management systems as well as its extensive array of slot machines, online slot games and mobile slots. Fans may recognise big titles such as Legend of the Sphinx, American Hot Slot, Red Hot Fruits, Ocean Tale and Sealed with a Kiss. The company remains privately owned to this day, with owner Mr Johannes Weissengruber still running the business himself.
Aristocrat Gaming Technology
The largest gambling machine manufacturer in Australia, Aristocrat has been around since 1953. Today, it still operates out of the Sydney suburb of North Ryde but has offices in South Africa, Russian and the United States. The company is now licensed to distribute its products in more the 200 jurisdictions, including the UK. You’ll recognise many of its games from their original TV formats. The company has become somewhat of a specialist at bringing TV shows to the slots market. Top titles include AMC’s The Walking Dead, the Big Bang Theory and the mega-hit show Game of Thrones.
This UK-based slot machine maker hails from Newcastle Upon Tyne. The company now has offices in London as well as Sofia, Bulgaria. Bede is a specialist in providing gambling software to online casinos, online bingo operators and regulated lotteries. There are more than 120 developers working on games at Bede Gaming and, as a result, its platform is rather impressive. Bede utilises games from top third-party game-makers such as Blueprint Gaming, IGT, NetEnt and Microgaming.
Betsoft Gaming has been around since 2006. The Malta-based company has since built a reputation for using 3D animation in its slots and iGaming products, making them some of the best-looking games on the market. These interactive, cinematic experiences focus on fast gameplay and creating multiple chances for jackpots. The games are optimised for iOS, Windows Phone and Android devices under the mantel ToGo Games. Our favourite titles include Giovanni’s Gems, The Slotfather Part II and Kawaii Kitty.
This Newark-based company represents another key player flying the flag for homegrown software development in the UK. The studio is actually part of Germany’s Gauselman Group but develops games for both land-based markets, plus Italy. Its library of online and mobile games is available globally though. Blueprint has been savvy in acquiring licenses for much-loved but niche franchises such as Top Cat, Worms: Reloaded, Viz Magazine and Duckula. It also produces quality original titles.
As a fully-owned subsidiary of 888 Holdings, you’ll only find Dragonfish games at 888casino in the UK. However, the Casinoflex team at Dragonfish is a worthy entrant into this list due to its library of more than 300 games including exclusive content from 888’s in-house games studio. More than 100 of those games are on mobile too. The standout star of Dragonfish-developed games is undoubtedly Millionaire Genie. The progressive slot game features free spins and multi-million-pound payouts.
This Bulgarian-based software developer is run out of its offices in Sofia. The company has used all its land-based casino experience to enter the world of iGaming and has been delivering a solid desktop and mobile game experience ever since. As well as its roulette, card and table game offering, EGT has developed a range of slots that continue to rise in popularity. Top titles include Coral Island, Like A Diamond and 100 Super Dice – a crazy 100-line dice-based video slot.
The Gamesys Group was founded in 2001 by Noel Hayden. Now based in Piccadilly, London, the company operates several big-brand UK iGaming sites such as JackpotJoy and Sun Bingo. In 2014 the team also launched its Virgin Poker game on Facebook. Of course, Gamesys also makes quality slot games for online casinos in the UK including the official Godfather slot. Other popular games include Secrets of the Phoenix, Houdini and Tiki Totems – a cute, multiline slot games with a striking art style.
High 5 Games
High 5 is an American-based company with offices in Kansas City, Missouri, with additional offices in both New York and London. Its artistic style games are now available in 50 countries spread across six continents and have received various awards over its 20 years history including the EGR North America New Game 2016 for Chicago – The Musical. UK online slots players will be more familiar with top titles such as Golden Goddess and the best-performing slot in the company’s library, Da Vinci Diamonds.
This multinational giant of the iGaming industry has offices in London, Las Vegas, Rhode Island and Rome. Its status as one of the largest and most successful game developers allows it to attract the industry’s top talent. With more than 12,000 employees, IGT is able to offer products across a range of sectors including web, mobile and land-based versions of slot games. It’s biggest hit, Cleopatra, is one of the most recognised titles in online gambling.
Another London-based software developer, iSoftBet was only granted its UK license in 2015 but has made inroads into a crowded online slots market already. Now certified in Italy, Spain, Belgium, Portugal and Alderney as well, its games portfolio is already impressive. The company has even managed to grab a couple of TV and movie licences in the shape of Studio Canal’s 90s classic, Basic Instinct, and the original DVD box set favourite, 24. It’s Forest Mania, of the most visually attractive slots on the market.
Mazooma Interactive Games
Established 1997, Mazooma Interactive Games (MIG) was originally from a land-based background. The company has now focused its attention on providing digital content for the online casino and mobile markets internationally. MIG is now part of the Novomatic group of companies and plays a key role within the Astra Group UK providing a game integration capability, trying to get land-based games into the booming online market. Its UK titles include King of the Pride, Jewels of the Sea and Wild West Hi Roller.
A household name in the industry, Microgaming is an Isle of Man-based company that has been creating some of the best game on the market today. Countless awards and industry recognition has cemented Microgaming’s place among ‘the big three’ along with NetEnt and Playtech, and it continues to deliver a wide range of licensed games and new innovations. Jungle Jim El Dorado looks as good as anything on the market, and with Mega Moolah this developer holds the world record for the largest ever progressive jackpot ever paid in in the business at more than £13 million.
Another of ‘the big three’, NetEnt is a Swedish company that has been innovating for more than 20 years in the online slots business. The numbers behind NetEnt are quite staggering. Its gaming systems handled more than 21.4 billion gaming transaction in 2014 alone. You can play NeEnt games at more than 170 online casinos worldwide, with more than 200 individual games to choose from. Gonzo’s Quest remains one of its biggest titles, along with Starburst and The Invisible Man.
NextGen is part of the NYX Gaming Group and uses its award-winning Open Gaming System to deliver its games. It’s based in Las Vegas, but operates as a global company. The NextGen slots team has been making games for more than 20 years and have been key to pioneering platform-independent content for online casinos. Foxin’ Wins Again is the diamond in NextGen Gaming’s crown, and is one of the most played online slots in the UK today. The action-packed Shangri La slot is a personal favourite of ours.
Novomatic was founded in 1980 by the billionaire Johann Graf and now operates in 43 countries today. Graf is now a billionaire and the in 2012 his company’s revenue was €3.2 billion. Despite its monumental success in Europe, Novomatic is not as big a presence on the UK online slots scene as it is on the continent. Some of its biggest games can be found if you know where to look, such as Sizzling Hot Deluxe and Book of Ra.
The final pillar of ‘the big three’, Playtech has been around since 1999 but the company was right there at the birth of online casinos. The first European land-based casino to go online in 2002 was powered by Playtech. Today, it offers more than 500 casino, poker and sports games at UK online casinos. It also owns some of the most sought-after licenses in the game including the 1960s Batman series, Superman and hit cartoon Family Guy. You can read more about this dev in our dedicated Playtech page.
This Swedish-born company has offices in Malta and Hungary as well its homeland and uses what it calls a Game Account Toolkit (GAT) to develop its games. GAT is built on a modular and open architecture that allows for easy integration of 3rd party products. Play’n GO currently has partnerships with BetVictor in the UK but expect this to grow very soon. Standout games from the Play’n GO Library include the anime-inspired Moon Princess, the fantasy-themed 7 Sins and the modern-retro Sweet 27.
Quickspin was acquired by Playtech in 2016 but still operates as a semi-independent company, retaining its own branding and development process. A regular at the EGR Awards, Quickspin has an impressive range of games in its portfolio. The cherry blossom-inspired Sakura Fortune remains a fan favourite. The company is also carved out a niche in developing slots with a light-hearted take on the world of children’s stories. Goldilocks and the Wild Bears and Big Bad Wolf are almost satirical in their approach.
Realtime Gaming launched in 1998 out of Atlanta, Georgia. The software development team has since relocated to Costa Rica, but it has continued to deliver on its philosophy of creating serious online gambling games for serious players. You could be forgiven for taking that Realtime mantra with a pinch of salt upon given its library includes titles such as; Builder Beaver, Food Fight and The Big Bopper.
Best known for its game Classic 243 – a flashy 80s neon beauty – that has been a hit with the online slots community and critics of the industry, Rabcat is more than a one-trick-pony. Founded in 2001 in Vienna, the company’s games are now exclusively available through Quickfire and Microgaming’s business to business platform. Rabcat is also part of win2day, a multichannel gaming platform run by Austrian Lotteries and Casinos Austria AG combined.
Scientific Games is one of the older heads in the industry. The company has been providing gambling products since 1974 and today has more than 300 customers on six continents. A once lottery expert, the Las Vegas-based firm has got its fingers in several pies these days. On the UK casino scene, SG’s big players are the 100-line slot Giant’s Gold and the officially licensed Monopoly: Bringing the House Down and its sister game Hot Properties.
Thunderkick has offices in both Stockholm and Malta and has built a solid reputation as a game developer since its launch in 2012. The focus is on unique, high-end products here and the company is now providing games to most of the big players on the current UK online casino market. The 8-bit video game style Flame Busters is packed with retro charm but the guys at Thunderkick can also do modern 3D video slots as well. Check out Birds on a Wire for a light-hearted, entertaining slot game.
As the company tagline goes, Yggdrasil is all about ‘superior gaming’. Yggdrasil only gained its first licence in 2013, but the team has wasted no time in catching up to the competition. With offices all over Europe including Poland, Sweden, Malta and Gibraltar, Yggdrasil picked up the Innovator of the Year Prize at the 2017 International Gaming Awards. Its latest release, Jungle Books, introduces a new mechanic called Fusion Realms, mixing different reel structures into a single game.
The UK slots market is ready to burst. With so many new developers coming onto the scene, the competition has to be a good thing for players. As companies strive for innovative new ideas, pushing the boundaries of what online can be, the quality of the games is improving dramatically. Some of the above-mentioned developers are strictly online and some have never ventured into the realm of online slots at all. Some are exclusively slots developers, whilst others make a whole host of casino games such as blackjack and roulette. It’s also true that some big names have struggled to adapt to the fast-moving industry we live in today. The multi-millionaire pound mega-companies that have dominated the field for some time have got a fresh crowd of start-ups that are making a lot of noise to deal with. Bookmark this page to keep track of one of the most exciting gambling industries in the UK in 2017.