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Online casino and social game review – Quarter 3, 2012

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Aristocrat‘s new 5-reel, 40 payline “Buffalo” slot machine is another popular land title adapted to online. Graphic and feature-rich, this game is sure to be as popular as its terrestrial version.

Playtech subsidiary Ash Gaming launched its “Madness: House of Fun” at bet365.  It’s a 5-reel, 25-payline game themed on the cult band “Madness” and allows fans to play different Madness tracks.  It features two bonus rounds and has five different Madness-themed free spin modes.  Ash Gaming's “Hawaiian Treasure” features a well-executed beach paradise theme, a 5-reel, 10-payline game proving popular with the players.

Barcrest released its latest 5-reel,10-payline game “Crown Jewels” featuring avalanche reels while another four games were released into the Italian market following a supply agreement with GameAccount.  Games will be released through Eurobet Italia on a new casino channel dubbed LUXOR.

What to do when a large alien plant crashes into your farmland? The answer is found in Betsoft Gaming‘s latest 3D slot, the amusing “It Came From Venus”, featuring farmer Skeeter and how he deals with an extra-terrestrial event and the follow up by the authorities.  This five-reel, thirty-line game comes with Betsoft's new Collapsing Reels bonus feature, where all the matching icons on a specific reel suddenly collapse, and re-roll that reel to increase winning opportunities. The entertaining graphics showcase this provider's attention to detail and colour.

Betsoft's “At the Movies” centers on the movie cinema experience and its associated icons.  The company's development team outdid themselves on this 5-reel, 25-payliner – it is graphic, sound and feature-rich.  Another recent quality offering is titled “Hamilton”.  Hamilton is again a 5-reel, 25-payline game featuring outstanding graphics.  It is an adventure-filled game modeled on a popular Swedish action film.

“Rooks Revenge” is a fun-filled sequel to Betsoft’s popular “Aztec Treasures” which took to the net in September – its latest game release to their Slots3™ library.  The game is a cinematic five-reel, twenty-five payline slot, feature-packed and themed around treasure-hunting in the jungle.

Amaya Gaming’s Cryptologic launched two slots and an intriguing game that combines the features of both casino and social gaming. The company’s “Monte Cristo” online slot combines a traditional five-reel casino slot with the added appeal of an entertaining casual game.

“Captain Nemo”, a five-reel, twenty five-payline slot offers a progressive jackpot linked to Cryptologic’s Millionaires Club casino jackpot.  Impressive graphics see players transported 20 000 leagues under the sea to the magical world of Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus.

Cryptologic’s final release for the period is again a five-reel, twenty five-payline game dubbed “Fire Flies”.  Themed around a camping trip that includes amusing cookie crunching bears and trash-digging raccoons, the game features hidden and expanding wilds and a free game bonus round.

Endemol released “Bullseye”, a 5-reel, 20-payline slot that presents in a clean and simple design.  The game is based around the ITV game show of the same name hosted by comedian Jim Bowen and features three differently triggered bonus rounds.

Genesis developed an exclusive slot for Virgin Games titled “Necker Island” which is of course based on Sir Richard Branson’s own private atoll in the British Virgin Islands.  Virgin games chose Microgaming’s Quickfire platform to host the new video slot.  Other games from the company include “House of Dragons” a 5-reel, 20-payline slot offering a maximum jackpot of 10 000 coins and “Magic Charms”, a 5-reel 243 ways to win video slot.

Inspired Gaming Group released the graphic-rich 5-reel, 20-payliner “Monster Cash”.  Amusing, crisp graphics and smooth game play accompany fun bonus features that include the new “Spooky Spins” feature.  Another recent release was “Treasure Island”, again a 5-reel, 20-payline game with similar graphic appeal.  The games are thought to have originated from Electracade studios.

Following the renewal of International Game Technology’s (IGT) licencing agreement with Hasbro, “Monopoly Plus” was released featuring new and innovative game play features.  The 5-reel, 30-payline game debuts a new concept titled “Level Up Plus” allowing the player to permanently increase their payout with continuous play and incorporates levels comprising Entrepreneur, Leader, Executive, Luminary, Baron and finally Tycoon, which the player climbs by collecting Monopoly money in the Board Bonus round of the game.

IGT also released “Garden Party”, a lighthearted and colourful 5-reel slot game featuring free spins, multipliers and bonus games along with a new 5-reel, 25-payline game titled “Elvis The King” which is sure to stir up some nostalgia.  This is a feature-rich game set against the backdrop of catchy tunes and Elvis imagery and it is the latest in a series of Elvis-themed slots from IGT.

iSoftBet debuted its latest branded online slot with a theme based on the Paramount movie character “Rango”, a clumsily courageous chameleon who is thrown into a Wild Western adventure and winds up in a world of trouble.  Quality graphics and animation feature in the new game with slot action that includes a progressive jackpot blending with the amusing theme and bonus, Wild, Free Spin and Scatter features.  iSoftBet has other branded content in the pipeline which include LadyBet and Basic Instinct.

JPM Interactive entered into an online game supply deal with Microgaming’s QuickFire platform.  Historically a pub and club machine game developer, the 40-year old company's land game conversions to the online environment are proving popular. Under JPMi’s Max Power brand, the first titles to go live on the platform will be “Turbo”, followed by “Criss Cross Cash”, “Eldorado”, “Daytona”, “4th Dimension” and “Black Magic”.  The games all feature the Max Power progressive bonus and are multi-stake, multiple win line games.

Microgaming’s prolific game release schedule continued unabated.  The Isle of Man-based online gambling software and games developer released the latest game in its ‘Untamed” series – a five-reeler titled “Untamed – Wolf Pack”.  The game takes players on a virtual trip to the frozen wastes of the arctic wilderness and is the third in the series which includes Untamed Giant Panda and Untamed Bengal Tiger, both released earlier this year.  As with all Microgaming releases, the games feature high quality graphics along with new developments in the series such as The Running Wilds feature and an impressive new Lucky Nudge feature.

Over the review period, the company also launched an interesting new online slot, going retro with an arcade-style of game play that will appeal to a wide audience.  “Max Damage and the Alien Attack” is based on popular old arcade games in which the hero is on a mission to defend the Earth from alien invasion.   The game is the first in a series of arcade-style games to be released by Microgaming.

A trio of games with diverse themes went live beginning with “Twisted Circus”, a five-reel, 243 Ways to Win Video Slot that takes players right into the heart of the big top and “Phantom Cash”, a five-reel, 25-line Video Slot themed around a ghosts ‘n ghouls chase accompanied by famous Victorian ghost hunter duo Thurmingham and Carstairs.  Both games were released on Microgaming’s Viper and Flash platforms.

Last but not least, on Microgaming’s Flash platform “The Joy of Six” is the company’s latest major five-reel, 30-payline addition to its Video Slot portfolio. The game allows players to compete with one another in a vibrant and colourful casino environment. Players experience craps, the popular dice game, all to a backdrop of atmospheric cheers and sound effects.

In a different genre, Microgaming released its fast-fold poker style game “Blaze”.  The company network said speeds up to 300 hands an hour are achievable.  The game joins a hotly-contested market for this poker format.
Net Entertainment kept up the pace with the recent release of its 5-reel online slot “Beach”.  This feature-rich slot is distinguished by the clever use of animation creating a tidal feature that washes symbols onto the player's screen.

Encouraged by the success of its Jack Hammer online slot, Net Entertainment launched a sequel to the popular game, titled “Jack Hammer 2: Fishy Business”.  The same cartoon-like graphics and retro animations are used in the new offering as the characters continue their adventures in the criminal underworld.

“Evolution”, another quality offering from the Company is a 5-reel, 3-row and 25-fixed bet lines video slot that features an innovative new Evolution feature in Free Spins mode. The slot reels spin from bottom to top rather than the traditional top to bottom, which were integrated into the theme to give the feeling of the progressive evolution of life from the bottom of the ocean towards land.  The game features sophisticated graphics and sound, just what you'd expect from a Net Entertainment offering.

Novomatic delivered “Dazzling Diamonds”, a jewel-themed slot game presumably developed in its GreenTube studios.  This 5-reel, 10-payline game is a relatively simple game and is offered to European customers.  Another release titled “Indian Spirit” takes the player into the heart of an Indian homeland.  It is a 5-reel, 20-payline game featuring wilds, scatters, free spins and a gamble feature. Its “Golden Ark” game has 5-reels and 10-paylines and centers on a female “Indiana Jones”-type character.  It offers a top prize of 5000 credits in the base game.

Other recent titles include the 5-reel “African Simba” slot game which is an African endemic animal-themed cartoon-style game featuring 243 Ways to Win and a gamble feature.  Another release theme’s itself on all that sparkles along with treasure chests and an amusing jester.  “Jewel Action” is a 3-reel, 10-payline game offering a maximum jackpot of 5 000 coins.  “Sea Sirens” launched earlier in the year and while carrying various characteristics from Dolphins Pearl and Lucky Ladys Charm is an easy play.  It pays out a maximum jackpot of 9 000 coins and features Wilds, Scatters and retriggering Free Spins.

Online gambling information portal Online-Casinos.com launched a slot themed on an event of major international interest – the US presidential elections.  The slot game graphics feature several 2012 presidential candidates including Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and other Republican hopefuls.  Titled “Red, White and Who?” the new offering is a free to play slot that offers players a traditional 9-line format complete with two distinct bonus rounds in a politically orientated environment.

bwin.party’s Party Poker fast-format Texas Hold’em poker variant entered the market branded “Fast Forward” following completion of beta-testing.  The fast-fold poker variant joins the likes of Full Tilt's Rush Poker, PokerStars' Zoom Poker, Instadeal and Microgaming’s Blaze poker along with many others who have jumped on the speed poker bandwagon.

Playtech launched its latest 5-reel, 25-payline slot in time to ride on the back of the publicity surrounding the London Olympics.  Titled “Wild Games”, the offering has a comical theme in which wild animals compete in their own Olympic contests, backed by a good range of features and jackpots available on both the base game and the various free spin features.

“Polar Explorer” was released by Realtime Gaming.  A 5-reel ice adventure-themed online slot featuring a Hidden Treasure bonus game, a Discovery Feature and a Guarantee system within the game that ensures that a feature will be triggered within 125 paid spins, if not won randomly.  A five-reel, 50-payline game titled “Hairway to Heaven” from the Company followed.  The game is themed on well-known children's fairytales and features a princess who lets down her golden hair on a prize-doubling Wild while the Scatter symbol, which triggers free spins, is her charming prince.

Passoker founder Stuart Carr launched two games into his newly formed online slot gaming division Reel Sports.  The games are a licensed FA Cup archive game titled “Reel Football” and a roulette game called “Racing Riches”.

Rival Gaming’s latest three-reel slot generated much discussion on various forums who said that while the game was original in theme and the features entertaining, the return to player percentage was unrealistically low at 87 percent.  The game titled “WinMill” carries a Dutch-theme through the use of high quality interactive graphics.

“Astral Luck” was Rival’s next launch, an astrology-themed 5-reel, 50-liner featuring thematically appropriate music and sound effects backed by symbols that include the 12 signs of the Zodiac.

Sheriff Gaming continues its rise with top quality game developments and strong partnerships.  The company released a 3D slot titled “Magical Forest”.  With stunning graphics, the new game is a fun, fairy-tale themed adventure with players guided by a wise sorcerer carrying a magic bag of tricks.

A five-reel 3D slot game titled “Gold Raider – Finding the Throne of Skulls” followed.  An adventure game featuring an infamous treasure hunter traversing an Asian jungle in search of treasure.

In quick succession, Sheriff Gaming pushed out a 5-reel, 3-row, 20-payline slot called “Cars & Cash”.  As the title suggests, the game takes players on an adrenalin-pumping high speed journey through city streets in powerful sports cars against some of the best drivers in the world.  Again, outstanding graphics, animation and sound backing as most have come to expect from this talented development studio.

SkyVegas released “Happy Fruits”, a game billed as “going back to casino basics”.  Classic symbols that include bars, cherries and sevens bring a nostalgic twist along with modern game play to the offering.

Slotland’s 26th proprietary slot “Carnival” is a new 5-reel, 19-payline no-download slot game featuring cheerful and bright graphics with a fun-fair theme incorporating bumper cars, cotton candy, balloons and carousels.  The game offers players Scatters, multipliers, Free Spins and bonus games.

Relative newcomer TopJack Games are putting their Lloyd’s of London insured 2 Million jackpots on Keno and Video Poker.  Keno and Video Poker fans will be in line for a maximum win of USD/GBP/Euro 2 million on a wager of USD/GBP/Euro 1.

bet365 is carrying numerous relatively new titles from UK-based firm Union Jackpots, a gaming company that offers exclusive content.  New titles include “Paper Boy” a 3-reel, single-payline classic slot in a cartoon-style design along with a simple betting range.  “Neptune's Gold” follows a similar format but “Farmyard Frenzy” has a unique design in the form of a farmyard board game.  The simplicity of “Parrots of the Caribbean”, again a 3-reel single-payline game, is its attraction.  It offers a maximum jackpot of 70 coins, as with the others, along with fun, well put together graphics.  An amusing wizard welcomes players in “SpellBound”, while “Zombie” turns a scary theme into one that endears itself to players through the use of well executed graphics.

Viaden Gaming expanded its online casino portfolio with the addition of five new slots.  First up, “Football Cup” a 5-reel, 25-payline slot featuring Wilds, Bonus and Jackpot symbols, a bonus game and an additional gambling round.
The company revamped its popular Dice Express under the title: “Dice Express HD”.  The game is a steam-engine themed slot that plays across 5-reels and 21-paylines.  Two food-inspired 3-reel, 5-payline slots titled “Don Pomodoro” and “La Fiesta” followed.  The games are reportedly also available on the mobile channel in iOS and Android format.

The Vuetec-powered online casino DublinBet debuted a host of new slots, the first titled “Enchanted Fortune”.  This game is a fairy-themed 3-reel, 5-payline game while its second release, “Buccaneers Gold”, is a 5-reel, 15-payline game which is predictably a pirate-themed offering featuring animated symbols, wilds and scatters.

DublinBet, who is primarily a live dealer operation, also intro-ed two new RNG slots.  “Cash Cogs”, a 3-reel, 15-payline game featuring animated symbols and a bonus game affording the possibility of winning up to 1000 times the total bet along with a fruit-themed slot machine game with 5-reels and 9-paylines called “Fruit Funtasia”.

WMS Gaming has had a busy quarter with the launch of its 5-reel 30-payline “Riches of Rome” slot game.  The game is linked to WMS’ “Jackpot Party Progressive” as well as a second progressive jackpot called the “Life of Luxury Multi-Win Progressive”.  The Company’s operational website Jackpot Party launched “Ruby Slippers(TM)”, a sequel to its popular “Wizard of Oz” slot game.  The game features randomly awarded, up to 10X multipliers, and 45 ways to trigger the “Find the Broom”, “Crystal Ball” and “Emerald City” bonus rounds.  “Jungle Cats” followed, another game offering players a shot at the two WMS progressive jackpots mentioned previously.

“Rawhide” a popular land-based Konami slot game has been adapted to online and is available through Jackpot Party following a new partnership between WMS and Konami.  The game is a 5-reel, 30-payline game and is attached to the Jackpot Party Progressive.

Last but certainly not least, WMS’ JackpotParty launched “Kronos”, a Greek-mythology inspired game featuring the Sire of Zeus who has been defending the treasures of the Gods since the dawn of time.   The game is the first of JackpotParty's G+ Deluxe series to be brought online and is a 5-reel slot that features detailed reel symbols as well as a link to the website's progressive jackpot.

Malta-licenced online gaming provider World Match expanded its product offering with “WM Live Roulette” streamed from the Casino of Venezia – Malta.  Its next offering “Fruits Dimension” has been given a retro-feel in design and content boosted by modern sound and software technology.

“Xcalibur” from World Match is a land-based slot game from Italian developer Magic Dreams which has been adapted to the online environment.  The multi-line slot themed on the age old story of Camelot is exclusively licenced for online to World Match.

Social Network casino-style  games

bwin.party Entertainment beta-launched its first social gaming products titled “Poker Friends” and “Spinning Heads”.

The California-based social gaming developer Digital Chocolate launched SLOTS! on Facebook.  The new social network casino-style offering provides slot fans with seven differently-themed slot machines that include “Magic Woods”, “Marie's Bakery” and “Lucky Shots” with Wild West, safari and underwater adventures themeing others.

Double Down Interactive, International Game Technology's social network-based DoubleDown Casino, has added free-to-play bingo to its suite of casino games.  Three themed rooms; Art Deco, Fashionista or High Orbit are available to players at any time without having to unlock new games.  The company also launched its popular slot title “Cleopatra” on Facebook.  Cleopatra is the second free-to-play IGT land-based title to make the move to DoubleDown Casino.  Its first, Da Vinci Diamonds, has garnered a following of around two-hundred thousand daily players on the social casino.

Gaming developer and operator GameSys launched a new social network offering through its Jackpotjoy Slots gaming application titled “Bear Cubs”, a casino game based on a standard 50-line, 5-reel slot featuring Scatters, Multipliers, Wilds and Free Spins.  Jackpotjoy Slots members play and win with virtual coins and accrue points, which unlock new levels and open up new slots.  “Bear Cubs” joins a healthy portfolio of over thirty social network casino slots on offer from Jackpotjoy Slots.
Veteran industry developer and provider, Las Vegas From Home launched a social gaming Fast-Fold Poker product on Facebook that it claims is unique under the Real Vegas Casino brand.  The new game exploits the current popularity of the ‘speed poker' business model and is designed to provide users with “the ultimate in high-speed poker game experience” by reducing the wait time between hands. 

Social gaming app Trophy Slots has augmented its offering on Facebook with three new slots originating from the NextGen studios.  “Doctor Love”, “Hot Hot Volcano” and “Unicorn Legend” extend an existing catalogue that includes “Love Bugs” and “Genie Wild”.

PLAOR, a newly developed social gaming publisher will launch its first Facebook game in the next quarter.  The free-to-play offering titled “Hollywood Poker” features Texas Hold'Em poker-playing celebrities from the film, television, sports and music industries with poker player, actor and comedian Kevin Pollak recruited as an ambassador.

Social gaming software developer Playsino created its own free-to-play casino games for mobile and social platforms, its initial offering a new game titled “Solitaire and Prizes”.

Sports betting games developer RocketPlay (formerly known as Gamingo) is launching a new title on Facebook branded Sports Casino.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The app is designed to create a Vegas-style sportsbook betting experience, in which users place virtual bets on global Sports with real-time odds and can take part in other casino games like video poker, blackjack and slots as a diversion.  The company will partner with Zynga in the venture.

Asian company Soribada Games is pulling in the players and achieving wide publicity through player raves of its new social networking game on Facebook.  The game allows players to manage their own hotel casino, and compete with each other on casino-style games using virtual bets and rewards.  “Casino Hotel” is set in the imaginary online city of Merrywind, where players can buy and manage private hotels in a range of grades, with the price dependent on the grade/quality. On the gambling side of the enterprise, players can buy or earn virtual freebie chips, and gift other players with gems or chips.  There is a wide choice of casino games available to visitors to the resorts in the game, including staples Blackjack, Texas Hold’em poker, TaiSai, Caribbean stud poker, Baccarat, Slots, Roulette, Big wheel, and Craps. 
 
The Jockey Club designed and had developed two social network games to form part of a fan development initiative titled “Major League Horse Racing” – the game is an interactive game combining fantasy sports, social media and horse racing.  Its “Thoroughbred World” is a game focused on the breeding, owning and training aspects of the sport.

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