Online casinos have been one of the biggest growth areas in gaming for the past five years or more. That growth has accelerated dramatically over the course of 2020 and the first half of 2021, a phenomenon that is, no doubt, partially due to the restrictions placed on land-based alternatives.
More players means more casinos and more casinos means an ever-increasing demand to offer something a little bit different from the rest. The result is that slot development studios are working flat out to release innovative slot games to meet the almost insatiable demand. Following the 80/20 rule, you will find that the best online slots are created by the only a handful of top casino software development companies. Let’s meet some of the main contenders.
With a history dating back to the mid 1990s, NetEnt is one of the founding fathers of the online slots sector. This is the developer that is responsible for some of the all time classics – games like Starburst and Gonzo’s Quest, which are still among the most popular, despite having been around for almost a decade. NetEnt also pioneered features like avalanche reels, which are now imitated by every other studio.
We said “founding fathers” as plural. Microgaming has actually been in the business even longer than NetEnt, and is almost the Apple to NetEnt’s Microsoft. Microsoft has released almost 700 games, of which half are slots. Popular titles include Mega Moolah, Tomb Raider and more recently, Game of Thrones.
With a 15-year history in iGaming and more than 300 employees, Play’n GO is right up there with the big guys in game development. The studio was an early mover in mobile gaming and still leads the way in this niche, with games you can start on mobile and finish on desktop or vice versa. Top title includes Rise of Olympus, Troll Hunters 2 and Reactoonz.
Pragmatic has only been around since 2015 but is spoken about in the same breath as the market leaders. The studio has been prolific in its output, with more than 200 slot games in its portfolio. The studio also creates traditional table games and favorites like bingo and keno.
The biggest slots studio in the USA, IGT is rapidly becoming a major global influence due to legislative reform at home that is making online slots available to a far wider audience. Prior to the internet age, IGT was involved in creating physical slot games for Las Vegas and other gambling hotspots. We have them to thank for old classics like Cleopatra and Bejeweled, and they continue to release new titles with regularity.
Here’s another developer that started life serving the land-based casino market and whose games are now a common sight in cyberspace. Based in London, Playtech employs 3,500 people. It has produced some stunning and memorable movie-themed games over the years, including Gladiator, and has also struck up a partnership with Marvel.
Betsoft is another studio that has focused its attention on mobile slots, and this has helped its games to really make an impression in recent years. They are instantly recognizable due to the amazing quality of the graphics and animation. Just take a quick look Slotfather II or Wolf Moon Rising and you will see what we mean.
Here’s a UK-based game studio that is developing an international client base. The company’s strategy of partnering with TV and movie producers means it has been able to bring some real crowd-pleasers to market, with slots based on TV shows like Beverley Hills 90210 and movies that include Rambo and Platoon.
Based in the new igaming hub of Malta, Yggdrasil has gained a big reputation in a short period of time. Better customer satisfaction through innovative technology is their creed, and it shows in the quality of the games they have created, such as Valley of the Gods, Age of Asgard and Wolf Hunters.
One of the oldest companies on our list, Novomatic dominated the slots scene back in the 1980s. The company did not react as quickly as some to the internet revolution, but it is now making up for lost time. Its most famous games include Book of Ra and the Sizzling Hot series.
Red Tiger Gaming
Founded in 2014, Red Tiger is actually part of the NetEnt empire, created to appeal to the Asian market. However, it operates as its own entity and has received numerous awards for titles like Piggy Riches Megaways, Reel Keeper and Wings of Ra.
Genesis Gaming was launched just at the dawn of the smartphone era, and saw the way the wind was blowing. They focused on developing slot games in HTML5 and Flash that could be played on any device. Despite a partnership agreement with Microgaming, Genesis is very much an independent company. The studio’s portfolio includes retro crowd-pleasers like 8-Bit Intruders and Crosstown Chicken.
Big Time Gaming
This developer is a household name in its native Australia, and its games are steadily becoming more popular on the international stage. Players love its Megaways offerings such as Dragon Born, and it is also the studio behind the internationally acclaimed Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Sweden is becoming a major player in the industry, and Elk Studio is a small studio with big aspirations. It’s titles are made with stunning attention to detail, and include Valkyrie Ice Wolf and Zulu Gold.
Real Time Gaming
A relatively small studio from Atlanta, RTG has been in business since the late 1990s. When online gaming was illegal, RTG was seen as something of a maverick for continuing to serve the US market. Now the company has returned to the right side of the tracks, and its classic games like Cleopatra’s Gold and Aztec Treasure are finding a whole new audience.