The third quarter of 2010 has seen no let up in the stream of new games launched into an apparently voracious online gambling market by the industry’s leading software developers…and the economic crisis that has swept the world does not appear to have slowed the flow.
Probably the biggest and most anticipated launch after weeks of preliminary hype from casino licensees was the first slot in an intended trilogy of branded games from Microgaming based on the Lord of the Rings fantasy novel and movie franchise.
In releasing ‘Lord of the Rings – the Fellowship of the Ring’, Microgaming introduced the very effective cinematic spins technology, showing dynamic clips from the blockbuster movie as a backdrop to the 5 reels on the game, which has the firm’s innovative ‘243 ways to win’ format.
This multi-featured game is as big and glossy as the award winning Peter Jackson movie, featuring characters from the famous Tolkein novel, and is among the first games that the company has opened to the use of operator platforms other than its own licensees; Virgin Casino, for example, is offering the new slot to its players.
LOTR forms the flagship for the quarter on a slew of new offerings which this prolific provider has released. Earlier, Microgaming released new Bingo side games that included the 5 reel 9 pay-line slots Carnaval and What a Hoot, together with a 3 reel pub fruitie slot dubbed Winning Wheels.
June-July releases were clearly targeted on the football World Cup taking place at that time in South Africa, with an amusing safari animal-themed 5 reel 30 pay-line slot titled Soccer Safari, which was accompanied by the Parisienne-flavoured 5 reel, 243 ways-to-win Voila! and High Speed Poker, an addition to the company’s premier Gold Series of table games.
In July, a further three Microgaming offerings were being promoted by licensees: The Argyle Open, a 5 reel 40 pay-line slot with interesting interactive elements; an African bush-themed 5 reel 100 pay-line giant branded Lion’s Pride and a distinctly Asian-oriented 5 reel 40 pay-liner titled Dragon Lady.
Rounding off a busy quarter, the company revealed that it is to provide games to Vibrant Vegas, a new online gambling venture by Philweb-Pagcorp in the Philippines.
The industry’s other pioneer software provider, Cryptologic, has also been active, introducing a range of new rapid deployment games branded Instant Click, with the Tain network the first licensee to offer the product.
Other new additions to the company’s inventory of quality games include more in its popular branded games range such as the 25 pay-line Ferris Bueller’s Day Off based on the iconic school truancy movie (this game incorporates movie clips from the original production) and Conan the Barbarian, the fantasy action film that launched Arnold Schwartenegger to stardom.
Crypto additionally released a new video poker offering titled Bonus Deuces Wild Bonus VP, Overpoker, Vegas Three Card Rummy, Rickety Cricket, Green Lantern, Football Frenzy, Striker Fortune and the massive 100 pay-line Cash and Clovers on its Intercasino operation.
Arch-rival Playtech and its latest acquisition Virtue Fusion pumped out a diverse series of new offerings, too. These included Max’s Hi Lo Game Show, based on numerical predictions in a progressive jackpot format in which the player has to predict the next ball value – higher or lower - in a 50 ball sequence.
Playtech made an impression in the scratch card market when it furnished Club Hollywood with games like Pharaoh’s Kingdom and Winner’s Club.
Later releases included the community bingo game Multi Balls Bingo, a scratch card branded Treasure Time Traveller, and the 5 reel, 25 pay-line George and the Dragon slot themed on the famous mythical confrontation between good and evil.
These were followed by top branded games Pink Panther (a 5 reel 40 pay-line slot based on the blundering French detective Inspector Clouseau immortalised by actor and comedian Peter Sellers) and Rocky, a 5 reel 25 pay-line slot based on the epic movie series on boxing that made Sylvester Stallone’s fortune.
July saw further releases from Playtech in the 5 reel, 243 ways-to-win, Robin Hood-based slot The Archer and the 20 pay-line ancient Egyptian-themed Pharoah’s Secret, which featured the new Xtra Win Factor. There was also a new 5 reel, 20 pay-line slot on the adventures of Christopher Columbus dubbed Discovery, and news of a Virtue Fusion games supply deal to Mecca Bingo in the Rank group involving a new game titled Blockbuster Bingo based on the popular quiz show quiz show.
Other newcomers from this strong competitor included slots like Punisher, Banana Monkey, Penguin Vacation, and pipeline promises naming Book of Ra, Reel King, Beetle Mania, Sizzling Hot, Lucky Lady’s Charm, Doplphin’s Pearl, Plenty on Twenty and Katana.
Be on the lookout, too, for a new multiplayer version of French Roulette, blackjack and a blackjack surrender game, along with All American Video Poker and a new arcade offering titled Pirate Hi Lo.
WinADay issued a stream of press releases announcing new games powered by its instant-play proprietary 3D technology. These included a version of Keno, the ingenious Slot21, which combines slot action with blackjack in a retro-themed product, and Tropical Treat, a 50 pay-line game with a double Wild symbol, all tied into the casino’s progressive network.
These were followed by La Roulette, featuring a low bet option and based on the European rules, and the recent launch of Jackpot Jinni, a 5 reel 18 pay-line slot themed on the magic genie in Aladdin’s Lamp – also linked to the progressive network.
Stable mate Slotland revamped 5 of its 15 Flash-based proprietary games, relaunching improved versions of Jacks or Better, Golden 8, Reel Riot, Treasure Box and Wild Heart, at the same time releasing the entertaining new Lucky Ducts 5 reel 19 pay-line progressive slot.
Rank plc subsidiary Mecca Bingo attracted the punters with a fresh 90 ball bingo game themed on the classic Freemantle Media television show Britain’s Got Talent, capitalising on the intense interest in the outcome of the series.
The quaintly named GluMobile contributed to the mobile gambling sector with its AI-based Texas Hold’em game World Series of Poker Hold’em Legend, which provides the player with 5 difficulty levels in artificial intelligence opponents.
The Bodog group came up with a 30 pay-line progressive slot with a hilarious Wild West theme titled Freaky Wild West, along with an opportunity for poker players to compete against the house in Casino Hold’em.
Rival Gaming continued to push out additions to its i-slot range in the 5 reel 20 pay-line WW1 aerial combat-themed Flying Colours, following this with the classic historical steam railroad slot All Aboard with quality sound effects cleverly sychronised to elements within the game.
This provider also released a 5 reel 20 pay-line slot dubbed The Best of Luck, sporting all the iconography associated with good fortune.
Rival’s new Doo-Wop-Daddy-O slot is a 5 reel 20 pay-line offering themed on the American pop culture of the ‘fifties.
Among the online casino licensees, few have been as aggressive in promoting new games as Virgin, which is building a massive selection for its players thanks to its early entry into the cross-platform games sector.
All the leading providers are now supplying games to this operator, which vigorously promoted new arrivals that have recently included Next Gen Gaming’s 5 reel 20 pay-line Firehawk slot, a 30 pay-line Wagerworks slot with an innovative split symbol feature titled Noah’s Ark and Ash Gaming’s 5 reel 100 pay-line War of the Worlds themed on the popular scifi movie and novel.
Virgin also took on Wagerworks’ new Expert Roulette game.
888’s b2b subsidiary Dragonfish has been active, launching a large and diverse range of bingo site side games in its Quickplay instant gaming format.
New software developer New Deal Gaming debuted its first game in Bluff21, a multiplayer blackjack offering which it has agreed to supply to the EveryMatrix white label sports book provider.
GTechG2, which includes Boss Media, rolled out new casino software recently accredited by the player protection and standards non-profit eCOGRA. The significantly upgraded software includes a powerful and very flexible new slots engine, showcased by the new game Mystic Island, which is inspired by the ‘Lost’ television series.
Austrian Lotteries subsidiary Win2Day signed a supply contract for a package of GTechG2 games that included Aces High, Triple Chance Hi Lo, and Aztec Gold among others, including poker.
The software company used the London Bingo Summit to launch a new 5 reel 9 pay-line slot branded Chippendales – The Reel Deal, a game targeted on the female demographic.
Mobile gaming developer Probability plc is an early entry into the iPhone app sector, launching three games via its LadyLuck brand in Roulette, multihand blackjack and a slot branded on the undersea Poseidon theme. It also released an additional slot to its more conventional mobile inventory in the 5 reel 25 pay-line Gold Rush.
Probability followed this with the 5 reel 50 pay-line slot Filthy Rich, themed on the wealthy lifestyle and offering a slew of entertaining features for the mobile user.
The mobile technology firm joins several other companies including Betfair, NetplayTV, Paddy Power and the Aussie company Tabcorp in accessing this potentially massive sector, and scored something of a coup this quarter, signing a deal with Paddy Power to provide 10 new mobile games spanning every genre of gambling
From its studios in Costa Rica, RealTime Gaming featured a US football theme with a fruity twist in its 5 reel 25 pay-line slot Fruit Bowl XXV, incorporating the new Win-Win feature from this provider, along with multiple jackpots. The company’s 5 reel 25 pay-line Ocean Dreams has also proved a popular addition to its games suite.
The latest slot from RTG is Goblin’s Treasure, a 5 reel 25 pay-line game with a fantasy theme, multipliers up to 25x and as many as 15 free spins for the fortunate.
One company that attracted industry attention without launching a game of its own was the UK outfit Meta Game Universal, which claims that its versatile and multi-featured software enables online gambling operators to do away with providers and make their own games!
Prolific scratch card games developer and white label site provider Neogames continued its dynamic new releases program, with up to 80 games in each of its white label packages and a growing number of operators going for this option.
On the games front, Neogames launched Macau Nights, a progressive with a GBP 1 million jackpot which was initially exclusive to the Karamba website developed for a client. The scratch card specialist also added a number of new games to its inventory including Tiger Mahjong, SuperWOW, Ready Set Go, World Champions, Fast Hands and a 9 pay-line slot branded 5th Avenue.
Aussie developer NextGen Games, in addition to supplying product to a growing list of operators and other developers, included Party Casino.com in new launches of slots like Crocopolis, Shaaark! and Unicorn Legend.
Party Casino.com also added other fresh offerings of its own for the casino player, including the 5 reel 30 pay-line slot Snow Business with a polar theme and expanding wilds, all linked to a progressive jackpot under the company’s five tiered progressive pool The Big One, which seeds at $1.5 million on its highest Colossal Cash tier.
The Party Gaming subsidiary joined the cross-platform games acquisition trend as well, taking on 3D slots from Betsoft, among them the 5 reel 30 pay-line Heist.
Betsoft independently released its 13th and 14th new 3D slots in the rock concert themed Rockstar, and House of Fun, a horror fantasy based slot that uses cinematic and interactive elements to increase player entertainment value.
Similarly named BetonSoft announced that it had supplied licensee Grand Prive’s group of online casinos with the new video slot Alpha Squad.
Skill gamers can look forward to a marked increase in new games following a deal between Jadestone and Play ‘n Go which will deliver up to 60 new offerings to operators this year. Jadestone has also released its new Liar Dice game to licensees in the GamArena and DiceArena networks.
The popular Latin American game of canasta appears in the latest release from RM Royal Media, which features the Burraco version of the card game.
Fans of IGT’s respected online gambling software subsidiary, Wagerworks, welcomed the release of a 5 reel 20 pay-line slot branded White Orchid, which features multi-way betting options that give up to 1 024 betting options.
Four of the company’s top titles will also be appearing on the Betfred site via the Finsoft platform following a partnership agreement signed during the quarter, and Victor Chandler Casino announced that it is to carry Wagerworks games through the Openbet Fixed Odds Gaming Framework.
The latest Wagerworks offering is Bitten, a horror/vampire themed 20 pay-liner with bonus multipliers up to 250x and creepy sound effects and graphics.
Gamesys subsidiary and online bingo specialist Jackpot Joy launched a substantial television advertising campaign in the UK this (September) month, hiring veteran actress Barbara Windsor as its “Queen of Bingo” to front a clever campaign based on royalty and the launch of a new 90 ball proprietary game dubbed Bingo Royale.
Everest Gaming released two new proprietary slots – the 24 pay-line astrology-themed Star Signs, which boasts a $100 000 jackpot, and Froggy Fortune, a comical lifestyle-themed 15 pay-liner with a $75 000 jackpot.
The Sky Vegas online casino was among the first to offer the new Openbet game Cops ‘n Robbers, a 5 reel 20 pay-line slot with achievable payouts of up to GBP250 000.
Betfair was the elephant in the room amid reports of expansion and a public listing. The giant online gambling group signed up with Playtech for an extensive suite of Flash-based games and added six new games to its Arcade series: European blackjack, Vegas Blackjack, European roulette, Money Wheel, Pontoon and Baccarat. These games, all developed in the company’s own studios, feature 3D graphics, virtual dealers and celeb avatars.
Betfair was also active in the iPhone sports betting sector, where it released a new app.
Vegas Technology added three new games to its wide selection, releasing the 5 reel 20 pay-line slot La Cucaracha with a Latin American theme and up to 5000x multipliers; the similarly formatted Hurdy Gurdy with a pronounced Dutch flavour, and Big Time - a bold, modern, blingy game with all the bells and whistles: free spins, interactivity and multipliers.
In Touch Games joined the competitive mobile sector with the issue through Mfortune of Vegas Vegas, a rather unimaginatively named mobile slot featuring free spins, multipliers and a Wheel of Fortune mini-game.
Mobile gamblers can also look forward to the diversion of lottery wagering in the months ahead following the launch by the Spin3 mobile company of a new LottoSpin product for licensees – more on that as further information develops.
Online players have again been thoroughly accommodated in quarter three’s new game initiatives, with a diversity of new offerings that in many cases offer both innovation and ingenuity.
Clearly the highly competitive nature of the industry is still spurring developers to new creative and technology heights, and that can only benefit the player.
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