Online gambling has developed hugely thanks to software providers, who have transformed this one-time solely land-based industry into today’s fully functional and exciting world of digital gaming.
Software has such a big impact on the experience of players, as it dictates the cutting-edge gameplay, maximum immersion and 3D entertainment now available on casino sites.
Each software platform produces its own variety of games, whilst offering unique and modern twists on classic games as well as coming up with their own entirely new concepts.
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How software providers affect your casino experience
Software providers have a huge influence on how players enjoy their online casino experience. We’ve broken them down into these main areas.
Perhaps the first impact of software developers that players feel is through the platform they choose to play a game on. If you are playing on a dedicated app that has been downloaded to your device, the look, feel and overall experience this is dictated by the software provider and how they have built the game for your device. The same goes for mobile-optimised sites that are accessed through your phone’s web browser. The best developers create downloads that are accessible for different types of devices – so it’s up to you to figure out which experience you prefer.
The level of software provider will have an impact on game selection in the following ways:
Type of games – The best offer a wide variety across slots, table games, live dealer games, video poker machines and progressive jackpots.
Game variation – There are over 15 different variations to the game blackjack, for example – from Atlantic City blackjack to Single deck blackjack and European blackjack – and the top providers will cater for all of this demand.
Mobile – Mobile casinos are hugely important and the best produce as many mobile-optimised titles as possible, including a number of games tailor made for mobile play, such as those created by innovative software house Play’N Go.
Quality – The best produce games with clear image quality, realistic and accurate audio sound effects, clean and user-friendly interfaces and sophisticated special features.
The very best software providers not only account for the large number of variations to certain games, but produce advanced gameplay for each version.
For example, in a certain blackjack game can you split aces, double down more than once or get paid 3:2 or 6:5 for a blackjack hand? If a developer creates unique variants of games, with extra features and stipulations and variations on game rules, then that will impact the odds you can receive as a player.
Before smartphones and tablets truly took off, the only way to play slots online was on your computer. In the early days of mobile phones, they weren’t advanced enough to run the technology needed to function with online gaming. Slot machines were coded with animation software Flash by Adobe, but today the innovative providers have migrated their titles to a fully functional HTML5 framework.
This has allowed for better graphics and slicker gameplay across all devices, giving players the opportunity to gamble online using their mobile phones. The best slots software providers also create many new titles with mobile players in mind, such as NetEnt and Play’N Go.
Volatility is another element to slot software influenced by providers. High rollers want slots with high volatility, which means the hit rate will be slower but the payouts higher. But players who prefer to relax and gamble for fun will likely want a higher hit rate and accept lower payouts – slots with low volatility.
Table games software
Software developers offering a wide range of table games with variations of classic rules is great for players. The best providers will do this across as many roulette, blackjack, baccarat and poker variations as possible, whilst including flexible bet limits, intuitive user interfaces and navigation and plenty of customisable in-game settings.
Live casino providers
Live casinos have really improved in recent years down to advances from software providers. They first emerged in the mid 2000s but were nowhere near the standard they are today.
Live dealer sites bring the atmosphere of a real casino for players to enjoy wherever they are. Cards are dealt and wheels spun by real-life professionally-trained croupiers who usually work from a custom-designed live studio.
Players can place bets in a similar fashion to a random number generated (RNG) animation game. Of course, the live croupier will control the pace of the game and you can watch the action unfold in real-time in front of your eyes. Cards can even be read using scanning devices allowing the real cards in the studio to match the virtual ones on your screen.
These live tables are streamed in high-definition with impressive camerawork capturing all the subtle nuances of gameplay that has truly raised the bar for players everywhere.
NetEnt is a software company based in Sweden that was established in 1996 and was one of the first developers to produce on a Java platform. NetEnt is considered a pioneer of the industry having initially created its own online casino site. However, it now powers over 140 casinos across multiple languages.
NetEnt is licensed and regulated ensuring players of security and fairness on all its games, producing titles across mobile and desktop and have recently added live dealers to its casinos although they remain best known for slot games and innovative design. Among NetEnt’s most popular titles are Gonzo’s Quest, Robin Hood and Mega Fortune. It also offers progressive jackpots with prizes pooled across the various casinos that use its software.
One of the most recognisable names in casino software, in 2014 alone NetEnt processed 21.4 billion gaming transactions, with its team comprising of 700 staff around the world landing the company an array of awards.
Microgaming are based on the Isle of Man and has been around since 1994 as one of the founders of online gaming. With over 850 casino titles on offer across mobile and desktop as well as browser and download, Microgaming aims to create unique and original games to the highest quality. It has one of the largest range of games available online and is considered by many to be the best provider in the industry.
Microgaming also produces live dealer games and only service countries which permit online casinos by law and recently expanded their portfolio with the launch of independent software brand StormCraft Studios. Features of its games include auto play and expanded game help as well as a game statistics and strategy interface which allows players to set a game strategy while also doing something else – perhaps playing another game or doing something in real life.
Born in 2006 to revolutionise live casino gaming online, Evolution Gaming has all the main casino games in live format plus many unique titles and slants on casino classics. It has picked up numerous awards for their live casino products across games such as blackjack, baccarat, roulette, hold ‘em poker, Caribbean stud poker and three card poker.
You can find its titles on Leo Vegas, 32red casino, William Hill, Casumo and other respected casino sites which is sure to grow as they aim to fulfil their vision of being the leading live casino provider in the world.
What are some other top software providers?
We’ve listed our favourite three in the industry above – NetEnt, Microgaming and Evolution – but there are many more we could have included, such as Playtech, IGT, Novomatic, Play’n GO, NextGen, Yggdrasil and Playson. Our expert reviews will go into more detail about the range of software used at certain casinos.
Do all software developers produce free versions of their games I can try?
Yes, the majority of major developers produce free demo versions of their games to go alongside real money titles. You can try these demos out at most online casinos which are great for beginners, to familiarise yourself with the rules or try out new strategies.
What factors make a great online casino software provider?
Firstly a commitment to great graphics is important as visuals are what the player will be initially greeted by. The speed of gameplay, a wide variety of different games and downloaded software for mobile and desktop are also key.