We see it happening more and more every day in today’s corporate world. The tiny fish gets gobbled up by the bigger fish, i.e., bigger companies oftentimes purchase smaller companies and retain the rights to their assets. And we are seeing this happen much more frequently in the iGaming industry when it comes to top game providers.
So what does this mean for smaller, newer game providers trying to establish themselves in a very competitive world? Or better yet, what does that mean for us, the players? To answer these questions, we’ll need to examine some of the most recent acquisitions in the game providers industry and analyze the overall impacts.
Previously referred to as Evolution Gaming, Evolution has been one of the leading game providers in the live casino business since its launch in 2006. They practically revolutionized the entire gaming industry with live dealer variations of all our favorite games, including blackjack, poker, roulette, and more. But that wasn’t enough for the team behind Evolution. They wanted more.
In fact, in recent years, Evolution has acquired a number of big names you’ll most likely recognize.
The acquisition of Ezugi certainly makes sense. They were one of Evolution’s biggest rivals in live casino gaming. Now, they are the parent company. But what is more interesting here is the acquisition of some really top names in online slots. NetEnt and Red Tiger have some of the largest slot catalogs of any game provider. Big Time Gaming created the popular Megaways slots. And NoLimit City is very well known for its shock slots.
So why did this happen?
The short answer is obviously money. NetEnt has some of the most popular online slot games amongst casino players, including Starburst and Gonzo’s Quest. And with BTG, a number of providers consistently lease the rights to use the Megaways platform in their games. Both of these aspects can be quite lucrative for Evolution.
But what does that mean for us players?
In terms of gameplay, I’m not really seeing a negative side effect here. For one, all of the labels operating under the Evolution umbrella have been releasing new games. Furthermore, the games can incorporate exciting aspects and themes together to give us better titles. For example, Blood Suckers Megaways was recently released under the Red Tiger Label using BTG’s Megaways mechanics, while the original game was released under NetEnt.
Additionally, Evolution has begun bringing elements of popular slot games into their live casino games. For example, Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt is an extremely popular live game show that brings the popular NetEnt character to life. Likewise, they have brought the Dead or Alive series to life with a new live dealer card game, Dead or Alive: Saloon. This year, we can expect to see their first live slot games with the release of Extra Chilli Epic Spins. None of this innovation would have been possible without the acquisitions and mergers previously noted.
If you haven’t noticed, there’s a big name in the casino gaming world that’s suddenly gone missing, Microgaming. Recently, the newly launched Games Global has acquired the rights to all of Microgaming’s slots catalog. Instead, the company has decided to prioritize its focus on platform systems and services for online gaming brands and its sports betting operations. This has given Games Global access to all of the popular Microgaming titles, including Immortal Romance, Mega Moolah, The Twisted Circus.
Likewise, this includes a number of smaller providers that Microgaming was partnered with. Here, it is important to note that there is a big difference between a larger entity partnering with a smaller one. Think of Games Global being the publishing house for the studio. The studio focuses all of its creative talents on creating the game, just as an author of a book would be doing. However, Games Global comes in to assist in a number of logistical and creative aspects. This includes taking care of licensing, infrastructure, local market compliance adaptations, certification, translations, commercials, marketing to operators, and integrations.
Here’s a list of some of the notable game providers that Games Global partners with and games you’ve probably either seen or played at top crypto casinos.
- Triple Edge Studios
- Sisters of Oz Jackpots
- 9 Mad Hats – Absolootley Mad
- Wicked Tales: Dark Red
- Stormcraft Studios
- Thunderstruck Wild Lightning
- Agent James Blonde Max Volume
- Jurassic Park Gold
- All41 Studios
- Shamrock Holmes Megaways
- Wanted Outlaws
- Alchemy Fortunes
- Odin’s Riches
- Shogun of Time
By partnering with groups like Games Global, these smaller game providers can utilize all of their resources to create innovative and exciting new games for us to enjoy. They don’t have to stress about all the endless paperwork and details on how to market their games to casinos and players. This should be seen as a huge positive for us.
Light & Wonder
Formerly Scientific Games, Light & Wonder has taken a dual-pronged approach. Previously they had been acquiring smaller game providers and incorporating them into one company. This included NYX, NextGen, Openbet, Side City, Betdigital, and Gam 360. No new games have been released under these labels since 2021. Instead, it appears that Light & Wonder are following the lead of Games Global and partnering with smaller providers rather than buying them out.
Light & Wonder has the longest list of game providers that they partner with. Here are some of the highlights.
- ELK Studios
- Nitropolis 4
- Toro 7s
- Hacksaw Gaming
- Pug Life
- Iron Dog Studios
- Feed Frenzy
- Rock the Reels Megaways
- Wolf Strike Hold and Win
- Age of Beasts Infinity Reels
- Buster Hammer Carnival
- Big Bucks Bandits Megaways
- Magic Eggs
- Sizzling Kingdom Bison – Hold the Jackpot
- Power of Gods: Medusa
That’s just a small fraction of the many providers Light & Wonder partners with. They also work with Evolution on their First Person variations of their popular live dealer games and have also done some work with 4ThePlayer and Pragmatic Play. For me, I find it refreshing to see competitors come together and work to create truly unique products to give us the best ultimate game experience.
Can Indy Providers Survive On Their Own?
So who are the real independent providers, and is it possible for them to make it in this industry on their own? The answer to the first part of that question is many of the game providers listed above are independent studios. But they utilize tools and resources from bigger companies to help get their games to market in an expedited and more economical way. While they still retain complete control over their game designs, they are probably paying a sizable fee for the help with distribution.
As for the second part of the question, the answer is yes. Several game providers continue to thrive on their own. It’s just much harder to do so. And know that even when you see independent labels, it is almost guaranteed that they are utilizing other top platforms, such as Softswiss, to have their games pushed toward the top of the line at popular casino sites. After all, it’s not a coincidence that you see games from the same providers on the “Featured Games” lists while the games from lesser-known providers are pushed to the back of a site.
And remember that while these providers may be seeing a boon today, there are never any guarantees for tomorrow. So often, we have seen top game providers build their brands up and be sold to other companies. With that in mind, here are a few of the top game providers who are currently clearing their own paths to success.
One familiar face you’ll definitely see at top online casinos is Endorphina. They now have over 100+ slot games in their library, including Book of Vlad, Satoshi’s Secret, and Rooster Fury. They are constantly releasing new slots and are probably most well known for their Book of slots. What I love about Endorphina is that every game tells a story and rarely feels as if they threw a new skin on an old game. I recently sat down with one of their team members for an exclusive interview to learn more about their organization.
You can play Endorphina games at these great crypto casinos.
Next, we have Booongo, which prides itself on providing online slots with stunning digital art and cutting-edge gameplay designed to appeal to any type of player. Their game catalog currently sits at just over 50+ games and includes titles such as Sunlight Princess, Hit More Gold, and Happy Fish. Many of their newer games feature the exciting Hold and Wins bonus game.
You’ll find games by Booongo at all the following top casino sites.
Without a doubt, Platipus is one of the leading game providers you’ll find at any crypto casino. Founded in 2014, the provider has led the charge in creating HTML5 slots and table games for gaming platforms across the world. Popular games they’ve created include Hallowin, Aztec Temple, and Frozen Mirror. Their games are meant to be eye-catching and challenging while presenting an imaginative theme.
Play Platipus slots and table games at these online crypto casinos.
So, in the end, is the independent game provider dead? Hardly! When I initially began writing this article, I thought I would end up discussing how conglomerations stifle creativity while focusing solely on productivity. Instead, I discovered a true work of collaboration via multiple entities working together to create unique and innovative new slots and casino games for us to enjoy.
Thanks to providers like Evolution, we can see how they can now take elements of live casino games and online slots to bring us amazingly inventive live dealer games that nobody else is doing. Likewise, seeing groups like Games Global and Light & Wonder partner with other providers allows for the smaller entities to give 100% of their time and focus to their games, in other words, it increases creativity.
And while I am happy to see independent game providers thrive and grow, it’s always good for competitors in the market to keep pushing each other via new ideas and innovations. This keeps content at casinos from becoming stagnant and bland.
How about you? Is there a truly independent game provider you want us to highlight on BCK? Feel free to shoot me your suggestions in the comment section below.