Apart from one or two exceptions, the online casinos that we recommend provide the platform on which slots and other games are played, but they do not actually produce the software that powers them. Casinos are instead licensed to host the games by the developers who design, create and maintain them.
This creates a highly competitive market space where the leading companies are constantly seeking to gain greater exposure for their games and ultimately generate more revenue. The good news for players is that this has created a dynamic market where there is always innovation and growth, with the result being a gaming experience that is getting better all the time as new games, features and visual effects come into play constantly.
Although there are new developers coming into the industry all the time (many of whose games you can play at the sites we list here), the online casino games market remains dominated by a small number of big-name industry leaders.
Microgaming has been a leader in producing games since the advent of online casinos, and has been dominant in the market since its founding in 1994. One of the most universally recognised and respected brands in the industry, Microgaming is perhaps best known for its progressive jackpot network, and in particular Mega Moolah, which holds the world record for the biggest ever online casino win, and which to date has paid out over NZD$850 million in prize money worldwide.
Playtech was one of the first major producers of online casino games, beginning operations in 1999, and whose catalogue of games now numbers more than 500. More than 150 online casinos feature Playtech slots and other casino games, and they also offer sports betting, mobile and social gaming options as well. Its branded slots have long been a hallmark, most notably its progressive jackpot games based on superheroes. These have included a series of games based on Marvel Comics, but they are now producing branded progressive jackpot slots featuring DC Comics heroes too.
Scandinavian producer NetEnt has had a meteoric rise to international prominence in the last five years, despite already being a well-established company set up in 1996. Its catalogue has grown quickly and you’ll now find its more than 200 games in over 100 different online casinos around the world, with the surge in popularity of its games in no small part due to their innovative gameplay and imaginative themes. Its themed and branded slots in particular have strong followings, with recent releases like Guns’N’ Roses becoming worldwide smash hits.
Aristocrat casinos has been a part of the gaming industry in Australia for more than 50 years. With so much success, the company has expanded to worldwide gaming services, opening offices across the world from the United Kingdom to South Africa. With Australia as its base, Aristocrat has developed electronic gaming machines that are consistently at the top of the industry, and they embrace the newest technology to offer the best in online pokies as well. The Australian slot game manufacturer Aristocrat has brought several of their top video slots online through a strategic partnerships with GameAccount Network and NextGen Gaming.
888 is one of the few online casino brands that we list that is also a game producer as well as a casino operator. They have their own exclusive slots games as well as their own progressive jackpot network, although their casino site does feature games by other developers as well. A huge global presence, which won Gaming Intelligence’s ‘Casino Operator of the Year’ in 2015, by developing its own games 888 has responded to players’ growing demands for more variety in their gaming.
These major names and other software developers create and operate all of the games you’ll find in the online casinos that we recommend here, like online slots, progressive jackpot networks, table and card games, video poker, live dealer games, and everything else you can play at our sites.
The operation of online casinos is not, however, something that they do (with the exception of 888). Instead, games developers licence their software and CRM to the operators, who might be individual brands or part of a larger corporate group.
The way in which the creators of games then derive their income is through licence fees and affiliate programs, generally receiving a percentage of the revenue that is generated by their games from the casino sites who provide the platform for them. The game developer is also usually responsible for maintaining their games and ensuring that they are operating fairly, efficiently and securely.
The online casinos who provide the platform for games focus their attention on you, the player. They are responsible for experience you have when visiting their site, and promoting the games and other services they offer. The most visible aspects of online gaming, such as Welcome Bonuses, promotions, tournaments and customer support also fall to the casino operators, and this is why how they run their site, and the value of what they are able to offer, is what distinguishes one online casino from another. While games are central, and the reason why we play, where we play is very much down to how well individual (or corporate) operators run their sites.
An interesting development in recent times has been the move towards casinos offering a greater selection of web-based games, with a growing number of sites only offering this playing option. This has eliminated the need to download a software client to play, and has led to casinos being able to offer the games of more than one developer at their site.
While it’s still the case that you’ll rarely find Microgaming and Playtech games in the same casino, for instance, you will find the games of the big names alongside those of smaller, up-and-coming producers as well. Interestingly, you will also find sites who operate their desktop and mobile casinos as separate entities, with a completely different range of games by different producers at each.
Both of these innovations have produced positive benefits for players, in that there is now greater diversity on offer, and you can enjoy a range of different game styles and types all at the one casino site. It has also meant that the pace of innovation has increased, so that new game features are being introduced all the time, further enhancing the overall online gaming experience.