Since our last review of the new games scene the pace of fresh offerings appears to have increased rather than eased in the closing months of 2009.
Microgaming seized the innovation initiative with its new multiplayer Wheel of Wealth: Special Edition which presciently combines the allure of social community interaction with rich-featured slots in a range of player-choice virtual rooms. Judging by early player reactions, the new direction this game represents has proved popular and we could see further developments along these lines.
On the conventional gambling front, the Isle of Man provider also launched three new slots in late November titled Kings of Cash, Alaskan Fishing and Dance of the Masai, following these with a further four games in its bingo side games line of slots in time for Halloween titled Trick or Treat, Winning Wizards, Goblins Gold and Monster Mania. Alaskan Fishing was the second in the company’s innovative ‘243 ways to win’ format which replaces the more traditional pay-lines.
Late November as we went to press a further 4 games were due early December. These will apparently include a special Scrooge-based slot ‘A Christmas Carol’ themed on the famous Charles Dickens novel, along with Tribal Treasure, Buffet Bonanza and a new offering in the top quality Gold Series range of table games “Vegas 3 Card Rummy”.
888.com’s b2b subsidiary Dragonfish announced the launch of its X-Factor-themed slot as a side game for bingo players along with a promise that future plans include Spiderman, Cluedo, Fantastic Four, Monopoly and Cleopatra through deals with other platforms. The main parent company was also busy, launching Pirate Millions, a GBP 8.8 million progressive designed to capture the record for Internet progressive jackpots currently held by Microgaming. The launch was supported by television ads and a signup freebie of three free spins.
Pioneer online gambling software developer Cryptologic has continued to make a name for itself in the branded games sector with 50 line themed slots titled Batman and Wonderwoman, augmenting this with a range that has included the 25 liner Monkeys to Mars slot, Aces and Faces video poker, a table game called Triple Action Hold ’em and updated versions of Let it Ride and Three Card Poker.
The Austrian site Win2Day went the Flash no download route with an entertaining new slot game developed by Rabcat called Pandacash, whilst the newly Gibraltar relocated online operations of UK gambling group William Hill launched a Deal or No Deal game developed through a Endemol-Virtue Fusion collaboration.
RealTime Gaming proved to be prolific not only in signing up new licensees, but also in releasing new games, launching two 5 reel progressives in Triple Twister with a farm and typhoon theme, and Shopping Spree 2, an update on a previously popular game. The Costa Rica-based company more recently released two festive season slots in the form of Santa Strikes Back and Naughty or Nice, both of which have been well received.
Rival Games came out with a new 20 line i-slot on a home improvement theme branded Fixer Upper, more recently following this with an intriguing and original time machine-themed, feature-rich slot with different time regions called A Switch In Time.
Scratchcard provider Neogames has been busy, too, coming out with its fiftieth game titled X+O following the earlier release on the Hopa.com and Scratch2Cash sites of a skill game The Fairy Tale and the entertaining ‘multi game’ Bingo-Keno.
The titles described the themes in slots titled Safari, Supermarket, Reel Deal and Winter Wonderland from Vegas Technology, which also released the Thai night-life themed Bangkok Nites and the romantic Love Bug, both big 5 reel 25 pay-line slots.
Clue Mystery Match is an online skill game version of the Hasbro US board game Clue which has been developed by World Winner.com. Players take part in 8 rounds, each covering one aspect of a murder case, and have to gather sufficient clues and evidence to solve the case.
GTechG2 – the consolidated brand for St Minver, Boss Media, Finsoft and Dynamite Idea – has launched a slew of recent offerings that includes Luxor Temple, Rockin’ Fruits, Hells Bells, Hot Pursuit, Spot of Luck video poker, Burning Ocean, Irish Magic and Aztec Keno as both a full and mini side game.
IGT-UK subsidiary Wagerworks explored the wild animal theme in its entertaining Super Hoot Loot, which is a 5 reel 40 payline slot with a free game bonus feature that can double winnings.
Virtue Fusion Alderney’s popular bingo games range was extended by the introduction of Bouncy Balls, Last Chance Saloon, Clover Countdown and the Snakes and Ladders Challenge feature.
No games roundup would be complete without a mention of the arrival on the scene at the EiG in late September of the electronic gaming giant Sega Games, which is collaborating with Playtech in bringing its unique and very popular games to the Internet gambling sector, notably Virtual Fighter, House of the Dead and Sonic the Hedgehog.
With festive season holidays still three weeks away, and the economic scene brightening, it’s likely we will see more releases before 2009 comes to a close, building on what must already be a record year for new game releases in the industry.