Slot machines have been around since the eighteenth century, when they were first launched at land-based casinos. Over the years, these games have remained among the most popular casino games all over the world. Their popularity is mostly attributed to the relatively simple gameplay as compared to other casino games, as well as to the wide range of stake limits, which remains unrivalled by other casino game categories.
Gone are the days when your only option if you wanted to enjoy slot games would be to step out of your house and travel to the nearest land-based casino. Many casino operators refused to be left behind when technology advanced, and created online versions of their operations. Other entrepreneurial individuals and groups also chose to set up casino operations exclusively online.
Land-based casinos with online versions and casinos that operate exclusively online have one thing in common: Both types of operators typically feature slots as the biggest category on their websites. The good news for players across the globe is that the quality of online casino games, including slots, are continually improving. The number of platforms on which you can play these games is also increasing, as well as the types of currency you can use to bet on these casino games.
The Importance of Casino Software Providers
Online casino operators may be the ones giving players the opportunity to enjoy hundreds of online slots, but these slots are not their own creation. These games that you enjoy so much are actually the brainchildren of online gaming software developers. The sole purpose of these companies is to create games, which they then provide to casinos with which they have signed partnerships. Some of them even take it a step further and also provide a powerhouse on which to run the games in the casinos’ websites.
The software developers are responsible for creating the software, design, and gameplay of your favourite casino games. And the best software providers in the world have proven their worth by remaining in the industry for years and developing a wide portfolio of games. These developers have stood the test of time, and you will most likely recognise the names of some of them.
Thanks to these gaming software providers, players are spoilt for choice when it comes to online slots. In fact, it can be a bit difficult to decide on a particular game when you visit an online casino, as they would typically have thousands of slots to offer from several online slot providers. And the biggest online casinos would naturally offer games from the world’s best game developers.
It was in 1994 when the stage for internet-based casinos was set. At that time, only a limited number of gaming software developers catered to online players. When you consider this fact, then you will understand just how important the role of gaming software developers has become to the gambling industry.
How Online Casinos Choose Software Developers
A growing number of online software developers specialise in creating games for online casinos. Consequently, many online casinos, especially those who have become industry leaders, have stopped partnering with just a single game developer. These days, you will find online slots and other casino games from a good number of software developers on a single online casino website.
By partnering with a number of different providers, online casinos can choose which games they would like to add to their libraries based on the preferences of their customers. This is how you know that the software provided by online operators truly adds tremendous value to the game selection that caters to the specific needs of the casino members.
When online casinos choose slot games from developers, the choice mostly depends on preference, and they usually begin by identifying what the requirements of their customers are. In most cases, online casinos choose slots that offer high payouts, top-quality graphics, exciting jackpots, attractive game themes, a decent hit frequency, and interesting bonus features.
Casinos use the term ‘hit frequency’ to describe how often a slot game can produce a winning combination. Therefore, if you see a hit frequency of 8% for a particular slot, that means the slot will generally produce a winning combination an average of 8% of the time. The higher the hit frequency, the more often the payout, although payouts are typically smaller in slots with high hit frequency.
On the other side of the coin, a slot with a hit frequency of only 3% may seem unworthy of your time, but almost half of the hits in this kind of slot will have you winning a big jackpot. Additionally, most slots that offer progressive jackpots have a low hit frequency. Online casinos typically have a good mix of high hit frequency and low hit frequency slots. As a player, you will, therefore, have to decide whether you will go for more frequent but lesser payouts or less frequent but much bigger prizes.
You are also likely to hear the term ‘Return to Player’. This is used to identify the percentage of all wagering that will be paid back to players over time. For example, if you wager $1 on a slot that offers a 90% RTP, you can expect to get about $90 in winnings. This is the flip side of house advantage, which means a slot that offers an 80% RTP has a 20% house advantage. This is also one of the important parameters casinos use in choosing games and game developers.
Top Online Slot Developers
One of the things players look for in an online casino is a wide selection of games, which is why most online casinos choose to partner with game developers that already have a good selection in their portfolio. This way, a casino can partner with only a few developers and still enjoy the benefits of having a huge number of games to offer. Here are the top five online slot developers you are likely to find in online casinos because of the wide range of games they offer:
1. Betsoft Gaming
This software developer has been producing online slots and other games since 1999. They became popular for their innovative games and are now known for their striking 3D gaming products. It is, in fact, almost impossible to find another game developer that spends as much time and money to create visually stunning slot experiences as Betsoft does. This UK-based company is one of the UK gambling industry’s key players when it comes to gaming software production, having produced over 150 casino games, many of them slots.
Betsoft places a special focus on the iGaming market, creating games for some of the biggest online casinos you will find on the internet. And the company’s games are in such high demand that you’re likely to have already come across some of them. You may even have played some of the company’s more popular titles, such as After Night Falls, A Night in Paris, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Good Girl Bad Girl, and Greedy Goblins.
International Game Technology is another strong contender in the world of iGaming. It was an American company founded as A-1 Supply in 1975. They changed their name to Sircoma in 1978, and then to International Game Technology in 1981. The company was then acquired by Gtech in 2015, but the IGT name was retained.
IGT is known for constantly producing new and exciting title meant to please seasoned and neophyte players alike. Now headquartered in London and maintaining offices in Las Vegas, Providence, and Rome, the company is one of the world’s largest producers of online slots and other gaming products. If you are a regular slots player, then you would most likely have seen or played IGT games, the most popular of which include Double Diamond, Sherlock Holmes, and Wheel of Fortune.
If it was at all possible for a single gaming software developer to own the iGaming space, then there wouldn’t be a developer more likely to do so than Microgaming. This company is a trailblazer in the gambling industry and has proven to be so for several years. Operating since 1994, the developer has churned out one hit game after another and continues to do so on a regular basis.
Microgaming is known for having a large selection of online slots, some of them progressive slots that offer some of the biggest jackpots the gambling world has ever seen. In fact, if you dig into the highest jackpot payouts in the history of online gambling, you would most likely find that a majority came from a Microgaming progressive slot. Other than online slots, the company also develops table games and has its own poker network, which caters to a wide range of players. Some of the developer’s most popular titles, which you may have come across, are Avalon II, Battlestar Galactica, Immortal Romance, Jungle Jim, and Thunderstruck II.
4. Net Entertainment
More popularly known as NetEnt, this game provider is another leader in the field of iGaming. This Swedish software provider offers some of the best and most popular casino games on the internet. They started out by producing some of the world’s most impressive Java-based games until technological advancements switched everything to Flash-based, a change that delighted gamers across the globe.
Some of the world’s most die-hard gaming fans enjoy playing NetEnt games primarily because the developer offers a safe, exciting, and rewarding gaming experience. If you frequent online casino websites primarily to play slot games, then it’s a safe bet that you would already have encountered NetEnt’s most popular titles, which include Dead or Alive, Gonzo’s Quest, Jack and the Beanstalk, Starburst, and Vikings.
Rounding off our list of top online gaming software providers is Playtech. This company is a market leader in the gambling and financial trading industries. If you’re a fairly regular gamer, then you would have noticed that this juggernaut is a constant presence in the world of online gambling. The company is among the world’s largest online gambling software suppliers, and they offer innovative, cutting-edge, value-added solutions to the industry’s leading online casino operators.
Playtech develops, designs, and powers a huge selection of casino games, including a selection of progressive slots that is arguably second only to Microgaming’s progressive slots. They have been producing top-quality casino games for many years, and they are known for having created high-quality online slot games inspired by some of the world’s favourite Marvel superheroes. You would most likely have come across Playtech titles like Iron Man, The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor.
The field of gaming software development has definitely come a long way since the first casino launched an online version of their operation sometime in the mid-1990s. One of the biggest leaps the industry has taken in recent years is the introduction of mobile gaming, which is getting better and better as time goes by. Mobile gaming has, in fact, repeatedly proven that it is one sector of the gambling industry that isn’t going away anytime soon, or ever.
The growing popularity of mobile gaming has prompted software companies to make sure their gaming software is optimised for compatibility with tablets and smartphones. Beyond mobile gaming, the future of the online slot sector is looking bright, with some of the biggest game developers starting to take interest in such fields as augmented reality, cloud gaming, and virtual reality.
Gaming software providers are certainly not in short supply. In fact, there are now so many providers out there, that it can be a bit confusing for neophyte gamers to choose which providers to patronise and which games to play. But it is actually good news for players that there are now a lot of game providers because stiff competition helps ensure that developers will be constantly working to improve their game offerings. If you’re still a bit unsure as to which games to try, the above list of the industry’s top gaming software providers should give you a hint.