It was business as usual following the industry-shaking impact of “Black Friday” in April of this year, albeit a generally quieter period in terms of new games releases.
Nevertheless, industry stalwarts and newcomers alike debuted interesting and block buster quality games with new and innovative features that are sure to attract online, mobile and social gamers alike.
New Online Casino Games:
FremantleMedia Enterprises, in association with Simon Cowell’s Syco TV, launched a new 5-reel, 20-payline online slot titled “The X Factor Jackpot”. The slot based on the hit television show was developed in partnership with Ash Gaming and will be offered to Openbet, GTS and Finsoft customers. The popularity of the Television Show has interested Rank plc who signed a three-year sponsorship deal with to become the official gaming partner of The X Factor television show.
Ash Gaming also launched “Captain Cannon’s Circus of Cash” over the period- a 5-reel and 25-payline slot with 9 bonus rounds.
EiG Malan was the backdrop for Betsoft’s latest release titled “Mamma Mia”, a 5-reel, 30-payline 3D slot themed around a cheery Italian and his adventures in creating tempting dishes while Blueprint Gaming’s contribution was the release of a new slot titled “Casper’s Mystery Mirror”, a 5 reel, 40 pay-line game.
Online gambling veteran Cryptologic, who had been fairly quiet over the last period of review, developed a new 9-line online slot for BSkyB’s online casino Sky Vegas.com titled “Sky Millions”, a take on Sky Vegas’ “Millionaires Club” slot ending the period with a trio of new releases titled “Battle for Olympus” – a Greek God-themed 50-payline slot, “Horns & Halos” – a 15-payline, 3-reel video and “Juju Jack” – a 5-reel, 25-payline, Witch Doctor-themed video slot.
Electracade Openbet launched a new branded slot game titled “Highlander” to various operators on its GTS software platform. The game, based on the first run of the cult fantasy film The Highlander starring Christopher Lambert, is a 5-reel, 20-payline non-progressive video slot featuring Wilds, Scatters, Free Spins and multiple bonus features.
On the live dealer front EntwineTech added roulette to its series of “Full Screen Games” that already include blackjack and baccarat.
Gamesys launched the rural-themed video slot “Barnyard Bonanza” exclusively to its operational website Jackpot Joy.
IGT Interactive, the collective for the Wagerworks and other online gambling games development companies in the IGT group, launched a new version of an old online favourite, Da Vinci Diamonds. “Davinci Diamonds Dual Play” gives the player the ability to effectively play two games at once, each on its own screen, but merging into one game with additional paylines when free spins are won.
September saw the company release “Siberian Storm – Wild White Tiger Fortune” featuring an eye catching hexagonal five-reel interface and the popular MultiWay Xtra wagering with 720 ways to win. Its latest offering, a 50-payline slot “The Grand Monarch” is taken from its land gambling inventory and adapted to online. The slot is depicted in sharp, colourful graphics, setting the scene for a slew of features that have proven popular with online punters.
The popular concept of a fast poker game for players in a hurry, launched in the form of Full Tilt’s Rush Poker, is seeing some competition with InstaDeal pushing its own InstaDeal Poker Network initiative for online, mobile and terminal operators – despite Full Tilt’s patent-pending claims and another similar offering from PokerTube dubbed “PokerTube Speed Poker”.
Online games developer Leander Games launched one of its first games on Playtech‘s EdGE games platform following a partnership agreement with Playtech’s Gaming Technology Solutions (GTS) subsidiary. “Reely Poker”, will join the Reely series which have been designed to appeal to both mainstream slot and table game players.
Microgaming continues to blaze the trail with a raft of new releases over the review period. The Isle of Man-based online gambling software provider’s October 2011 releases comprised “Lucky Witch”, “Victorian Villain”- a 5-reel video slot, and the amusingly themed and named “Hells Grannies”, a 25-line, five-reel video slot featuring the hard core world of Granny Bikers.
October saw Microgaming’s Quickfire division releasing its first multi-player online casino game “Multi-Player Roulette”. The game will be the first in a series of community based games, which spokesmen claim will take the social gaming sector to the next level.
Going into November, Microgaming delivered an addition to its Egyptian-themed game portfolio titled “Throne of Egypt”, a five-reel, twenty-five payline graphic-rich video slot. Next up was the comical, hospital-themed, five-reel, twenty-line video slot dubbed “Dr Love” followed by “Crocodopolis”, thought to have been developed in the NextGen studios. Rounding up November’s release schedule was “Alaskan Fishing”, a five reel video slot with 243 Ways.
“Bubble Bonanza” and “Pure Platinum” debuted early December followed by the much anticipated Immortal Romance. Bubble Bonanza is an entertaining casual game played on a six-by-six grid while Pure Platinum is a 5-reel, 40-payline video slot themed around wealthy lifestyles.
Microgaming has billed “Immortal Romance” as its “blockbuster game of the year” in the same league as Thunderstruck and Lord of the Rings. The sophisticated and multi-featured video slot is host to 243 ways to win and other innovative features, all wound into a developing paranormal fantasy tale.
Online scratchcard and instant games developer, Neogames’ contributions included a horoscope-themed scratch adapted for online and offline. “Horoscope” is a multi-scratch card featuring 12 different designs, one for each zodiac sign, and is available in multi-language and multi-currency, with a top award of 200,000 currency units. The company also released a sequel to its popular 20 line slot “Legend of Terra”, branded “Forces of Terra” using the same fantasy characters.
The company’s November launch schedule included its first ELVIS branded online scratchcard, NeoGames’ second sub-licenced IGT release following “Monopoly Riches”. “Elvis Forever” presented in a Juke Box machine format, is graphic and animation-rich and features some of the King’s most famous tunes. “Christmas Joy” was also debuted in November’s schedule, a high reward scratch card filled with ornament pairs and matching presents. “Click and Gana” was a new online product developed in collaboration with NeoGames and launched by Intralot de Peru.
The military might and splendour of ancient Rome is recreated in the recently released online slot “Victorious” from Swedish software developer Net Entertainment along with “Mythic Maiden”, a five-reeler with a rather macabre theme, followed by “Fruit Shop” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” towards the end of the period. Jack and the Beanstalk may very well be Net Entertainment’s most significant this year with several innovations and complex, sophisticated 3D presentation.
Novomatic subsidiaries Greentube Gaming and Astra Games’ recent release “Party Games Slotto” is a popular land-based title adapted to the online environment. The 5-reel, 20-payline slot is a brightly coloured, fruit-themed game using the more traditional cherries, watermelons, plums, bars and the red number 7 iconography.
Swedish internet software provider NYX Interactive has been busy with both games development and an acquisition this period following the purchase of Australian outfit NextGen Games. Games released included “My Perfect Date”, a 20-payline slot set in romantic Paris and “Pirate’s Curse”. Both available as mini and standard-size versions catering for Bingo, Sports, Poker and Casino operators forming part of the company’s hosted mini-game and casino service offering.
Openbet teamed up with sports promoters, Matchroom Sport, Professional Darts Corporation and World Snooker, to develop a range of online slot and mini-casino games that should be released before the middle of next year.
Israeli-based outfit Playtech debuted “Halloween Fortune” in October, a 20-payline slot replete with three attractive witches, pumpkins, black cats, cauldrons, magic potions and sinister ravens.
British online games and bingo provider and Talarius subsidiary QuickSilver Games released “Zuma”, a five reel, 20 line slot game inspired by the Popcap game.
Rival Gaming introduced three new scratchcard offerings over the review period “Cast for Cash”, “Beach Bums” and “Pirates Pillage!”. It is unclear whether the games were developed in-house or are as a result of a licencing deal as it has with Sheriff Gaming. Rival’s latest i-slot “Sherwood Forest Fortunes” is a five-reel, twenty-payline game themed on Robin Hood and his merry men.
RealTime Gaming’s contribution over the period was “Monster Mayhem” joining its Real Series slots portfolio. The games sharp graphics depict an innovative cast of characters in this new 50-line slot.
Costa Rica-based games development studio Sheriff Gaming had treats in store with various attractions in scratch card and slot formats. Twenty-win line slots include “Ed’s Venture” and the catchy title “The Amsterdam Masterplan”, a three-reel slot “Slot of Fortune” and a scratchcard titled “Secret Treasure”.
Shufflemaster, whose new interactive division is preparing a key position for itself in the U.S. market should legalisation become a reality, will showcase designed-for-internet versions of proprietary player vs. dealer style games like Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Let It Ride and Three Card Poker, initially for licensing to operators in legitimate jurisdictions outside the United States, and scheduled for December 2011.
Slotland launched its 23rd one of a kind game – a 5-reel, 15-payline video slot titled “Fruitmania”. The slot is a traditional pub-style themed slot machine complete with cherries, lemons and bars featuring a simple Bonus Meter game that awards up to 15 free bonus spins.
Software provider Top Game released “Beauty Salon”, similarly themed and titled to a recent NYX Interactive release.
Viaden Gaming presented “House of Scare” over the Halloween period followed by three full-HD 5-reel, 9-payline video slot games in November branded “Enigma”, “Maverick Saloon” and “Viking Conquest”. Virtue Fusion operators announced the release of two new games titled “Castle Cashalot” and “Block Bashers”.
Enhancing its proprietary gaming suite with its 28th one-of-a-kind release was WinaDayCasino.com with a new 21-payline video slot “ChinaTown”.
WMS Gaming had another bumper quarter in terms of game releases through its operational site Jackpot Party. “I Love Lucy”, a 5-reel, 27-payline video slot with cascading reels and the “Win it Again” feature was followed by “Tiger’s Realm”, a feline themed fantasy slot that has 5 reels and 50 paylines.
November releases included “Jungle Wild” and “Kingdom of the Titans” with “Big Bass Bucks” rounding off the company’s new releases in early December.
Malta-licenced online gaming software provider World Match Ltd (WM) continued to surprise with its volume of releases, following on from an already busy past quarter as reported in our last review.
September’s schedule included two new video poker games titled “Joker Poker Aces” and “Double Joker Poker”, themed around an elegant and stylish exclusive casino and the spirit of the 70’s respectively and its first online multi-line slot with 3D graphics titled “Maximum”.
“Magic Quest”, a fantasy adventure themed multi-line slot and “Cowboys Go West” based on the Wild West of the nineteenth century launched in October 2011. Followed by “Hollywood Film” and “Ghosts Night” its second and third 3D slot in the same month.
Winding up, November’s schedule introduced online multi-line slots “Love Lab”, “Aquarium”, “Circus” and “Bikini Beach” while December saw the launch of “Contraption” to a company portfolio that shows no sign of slowing down.
Social Gaming Sector:
Cross-platform opportunities came to the fore this quarter, with industry observers commenting and speculating on several important potential developments specifically involving Facebook and Zynga and the possibility of extending into online gambling. Yazino social gaming developer has expressed it has no desire to enter the “play for money” arena, but time will tell as the developer’s vision includes “in-sync gaming”, where players compete and interact in real-time using the internet, Android and iOS devices. Movements in the Social Gaming sector over the review period included:
– Giant social gaming developer Zynga announced six new game releases, among them a casino and bingo product. The company already offers an online poker game that boasts over 7 million players on a daily basis. On the back of the releases the company announced the impending launch of a Zynga independent social games site for Zynga games dubbed “Project Z” as part of its direct-to-consumer strategy moving away from Facebook’s fist hold.
Perhaps the most interesting development was revelations in an interview concerning Zynga’s plans to get into online casino and bingo free-play action…again in the social context. An app titled “Zynga Casino” has been developed featuring Zynga’s poker product which will be joined by Zynga Bingo.
Zynga filed its IPO, planning to sell 100 million shares, or 14.3 percent of the company, at $8.50 to $10 per share.
– Bet Smart Media launched its Twitter ‘game chat’ widget, powered by SportsWidgets.com, as a white-label solution by Sports Interaction.
– Cyberarts, recently acquired by Fertitta Interactive, launched “Big Boat Bingo”, a comprehensively designed online game that uses the social gaming phenomenon of sites like Facebook to access players and perhaps convert them to more conventional internet gambling activity.
– “Photo Booth Friends” from Double Down Interactive, the developers of the popular social media site DoubleDown Casino, is a new slot incorporating a customising feature that has been done before but is still loads of fun.
– Search engine and web portal operator and owner Lycos Inc’s Gamesville.com launched “Pirate Cove Bingo for Facebook” billed as “a freebooting social game that lets friends play free bingo together and take home real cash prizes”.
– Baltimore-based social gaming developer PlayScreen LLC’s newly launched PlayScreen Poker iOS app has been designed to cater for poker players of all levels. The online, play-for-fun poker game has added social gaming aspects such as achievements, skills and virtual objects and allows players to manage their poker careers.
– PopCap Games, acquired by gaming software giant Electronic Arts earlier this year, is said to be launching a series of casino-style games on Facebook. New domain purchases, changes to a Facebook page and a recent trademark application for ‘Lucky GemCasino’ may indicate a possible shift to a casino offering.
– Social internet game developer Yazino launched a new slot on Yazino.com and via Facebook, called “High Stakes”. The game allows players to team up and compete as jewel thieves in a race to crack the code and steal the gems. High Stakes is a 5-reel, 20-line slot game that lets up to 10 people compete as a team.
– Google Plus will utilize US social games developer Zynga’s games portfolio, including its online poker product, in its charge into the social networking sector
Mobile Games and Apps
The Mobile sector continues its sweeping upward momentum with a report from Gartner indicating that mobile users on the Android OS will account for over $2.18 billion of total mobile gambling revenue and 5.75 percent of the overall interactive gambling market by 2013. The popularity of mobile gambling across all platforms continues with large online gambling firms reporting strong results from those sectors.
New releases from the mobile gaming and app sector include:
American Wagering, Inc., parent company of Nevada’s independent sportsbook operator Leroy’s Sportsbook and Computerized Bookmaking Systems, Inc. received field trial approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board to offer its mobile account wagering application, LEROY’S® APP, on the iPhone. Claims to be the first iPhone mobile sports betting app to be released in the United States and joins the company’s application inventory that includes Android®, and BlackBerry®.
Cantor Gaming launched an Android-compatible mobile sports wagering app following its approval by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The app can be utilised only within Nevada’s state lines.
Cellectivity successfully completed a lengthy Apple approval process, enabling its Bet2Go sports betting application to be accepted in the iTunes online store in the United Kingdom.
Poker Pals from Chillingo provides mobile poker fans using iOS compatible devices on-the-go entertainment. The intriguing new game is described as an amalgam of poker and Scrabble.
EntwineTech launched its live dealer games Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat and Sicbo for iPad.
RIM, owner of Blackberry, gifted Gameloft’s Texas Hold’em Poker 2 app in an attempt to appease users after a temporary glitch in their system left Blackberry users incommunicado.
“Lucky Charms” from NeoGames is based on the popular on the popular luck o’ the Irish-theme. Its seventh mobile game, Lucky Charms has been released on the HTML5 platform supporting iPhone and Android mobile devices.
PA Associates Ltd released an upgrade of its “Poker Analyst” application, available via the iTunes app store. The app enables poker players to keep track of opponent characteristics during play and works with any poker variation on devices utilising the iOS 4.0 or later platform.
Poker Pro Phil Hellmuth launched a new odds calculator application “Poker Calculator App” that includes poker tips and links to Hellmuth’s other enterprises.
PokerStars Italy boosted its virtual presence in Italy with the launch of a dedicated Italian poker app, available free to Italian residents only from the iTunes store.
The concept of fast, turbo-charged poker for people on the move is building since it was introduced by Full Tilt with Rush Poker, and more recently by InstaDeal. Pokertube Speed Poker.com’s “Speed Poker” app is Android and Apple compatible.
“Loopy Lotto” from Probability was launched through the firm’s mobile casino brand Lady Luck’s to join a portfolio that includes slot jackpot games Sweet Treats and Knights Quest.
The Skybet marketing team embarked on a clever social media drive with the launch of a Football Prediction application for football betting fans on Facebook titled “Call of the Nation”. Match predictions made by more than 300 football fans are uploaded by the online betting company via the app, which is hosted on Sky Bet’s Facebook fan page.
“Slot Machine – Megan Fox” is Spicy Apps’ latest social gaming mobile slot. The game offers Android mobile users an opportunity to kill time whilst earning social gaming rewards that unlock high quality pictures to use as a wallpaper for cell phones. An interactive skill element allows players to control where the reels stop.
Tote Ireland, in keeping with the trend, launched Tote Mobile, a new free Android and iPhone compatible betting application that offers live betting into the Irish and UK Tote Horse Racing pools and provides access to live Tote prices, account history and special promotions and bonuses for bets placed through the app.
French online gambling operator Winamax claims its latest app is a world-first in online poker, making multi-table action possible on iPhone and iPad. Players using the facility are able to play on four tables simultaneously, with on-screen prompts when action is required, and the history of the last ten hands played on each table available for reference. The service includes a built-in educational facility to walk players through the process, and the action is on the same tables as those downloaded on the desktop client.
Multi-player social games developer Yazino launched Blackjack by Yazino, a mobile version of the company’s social take on blackjack.