Over the years, online casinos have exploded in popularity. The convenience and fun of playing online charmed players both in Canada and the rest of the world.
With so much player interest, none of the software providers can hope to win everyone over. This has led to countless casino software developers entering the market in recent years. Each casino software provider offers a somewhat different experience.
Most of us are no doubt familiar with a few developers who make our favourite casino games. However, casino software providers offer a wide variety of different game types.
Slots, table games, live casino releases, video pokers, and scratch cards are just some game types that you can play. Each game type features a few casino software developers competing for players.
If you are new to online casinos, the variety of options made possible by casino software providers can seem daunting. That is why we plan to break this complex down to basics in this article.
After you are done reading, you will know all about
- The history of online casino software. When did the first online casinos get started? Who made the first online slots and live casino games?
- The different casino software developers. Who are they, and what kind of games do they offer?
- What sets the best casino game developers apart from the rest?
- Who are the current kings of online casino games?
- A FAQ page to answer any important questions that you might have
Popular Software Providers
Online Casino Software
It is easy to look at today’s massive success of online casino games and think it was a surefire thing. However, that was not the case when the first online casinos were started. The very first online casino software hit the market in the mid-nineties. The internet was still young at the time and the experience was not nearly as polished as it is today.
Exactly who launched the first online gambling platform is uncertain. It seems to be a toss-up between InterCasino and Microgaming’s GamingClub. These early online casinos were dominated by simple casino games. Basic fruit slots with simple special features and popular table games were all it offered.
Even then, the selection was rather sparse. Back then, the number of variants for existing table games on offer was much more limited. The same applied to online slots. New slots were not that common.
Exactly who made the first slot is not 100% certain. The best we can tell, that honour belongs to Microgaming. As one of the earliest pioneers of online gambling, the company is most likely to have produced the first online slot.
Unfortunately, online casinos and online slots were very much a niche back in the day. Very few records remain of that time, so the first online slot remains a mystery. We do know what the first jackpot slot was, however! It was Microgaming’s Cash Splash, which launched in 1998.
The first attempts at live casino games were also around in 1998. However, the technology was not there to make live dealer releases possible. We would not see a proper live casino until 2006 or 2007. Evolution was chief in taking the genre and expanding it to its modern heights. The team helped usher in the age of game shows and multiplier table games.
Casino Software provider
Most online casino software providers opt to specialize in a single type of game. This allows them to focus their talents on what they do best.
For many developers, that means a single-minded focus towards video slots or live casino games. However, that is not always the case. A standout example of this is Hacksaw Gaming. This casino software developer got famous not through slots but because of high-quality scratch cards.
Online Slot Providers
Slots are by far the most widespread type of casino game out there. Most slot games nowadays are video slots, which take full advantage of the move to online.
No longer bound by the limits of physical machines, developers were quick to go wild with the various slot details. Casino software providers can opt for different themes, gameplay mechanics, and special features. By mixing and matching these elements, a nigh-on countless number of slots can be produced.
A large portion of slot developers likes sticking to what they are good at. There are all kinds of slots, after all. Classic slots that are similar to physical slot machines. High volatility slots that offer high-risk, high-reward gameplay. Bonus rich slots with all kinds of fun and interesting special features to make things fun.
By focusing on what they do best, slot software providers can produce the very best games possible. Similarly, their fans know exactly what to expect when they launch their slots. Of course, not all casino software developers follow this path. Many do not stick to a pre-approved formula. Instead, they freely experiment with every facet of their game.
There are advantages to this, too. If you do not want to stick to just one type of slot, each new launch brings something new to the table. The most prominent slot software provider that fits this bill is Microgaming. With so many partner studios, the developer produces many different kinds of slots multiple times a month.
Another giant of online slots is NetEnt. The team is the undisputed king when it comes to presentation. Their fun gameplay is paired with some of the best visuals on the market.
Another notable name on this list is Play ’n Go, which offers some of the best cluster pay slots currently available.
Live Casino Providers
When live casino games first started, no one would imagine the heights they would reach. Originally, they were designed to offer a more immersive way to enjoy table games.
The idea of live streaming real-world gameplay has been around for quite some time. It would not be until Evolution Gaming entered the picture that the situation would start turning around. Even then, the change was not immediate.
However, that would not last. Evolution took the live casino world by storm in many ways. The most obvious was popularizing concepts that were not traditional live casino gameplay.
Table games with multipliers, like lightning roulette, are one such concept. Another is the increasingly popular game shows, which forgo table games altogether. Both game types help push live casino games away from just being a niche. With them, they become a proper game genre of their own.
While Evolution and a few other casino software providers are successful, many choose not to invest in live casino games. The reason mostly comes down to cost.
Unlike slots and RNG-powered table games, it is not just about programming a game. Casino software developers also have to hire dealers, make a studio, and set up live streaming gameplay from said studio. It makes for a high barrier to entry, and one may casino software providers choose not to take.
As you have no doubt picked up, Evolution is the biggest name in live casino games right now. The company played a huge role in making live casino games what they are today.
Another notable live casino software developer is Playtech. The team has a fantastic range of live casino games, including live slots.
Last but not least is Pragmatic Play Live. Despite coming in later, the team was able to use the popularity of its slots to grow their live division quickly.
Best Casino Game Software
While players should know how to pick the best casino games, not everyone will want to do it. It takes time to research everything. Many casino members do not want to spend their free time exploring these things.
Not when they could instead spend it playing great games! Because of that, we have decided to highlight the very best casino software developers on the market.
There is no talking about online casino games without mentioning NetEnt. The company is the definition of an industry leader.
NetEnt is best known for their slots, but they also offer a couple of table games. NetEnt briefly offered live casino games before Evolution purchased the company in 2020.
NetEnt has made many incredible and complex games. However, their most popular title is a rather simple slot called Starburst. The title is a must-have game for any online casino with NetEnt software included.
The game offers a low variance. It pays often and offers a fun sticky Wilds re-spin bonus. A perfect game for casual audiences to enjoy.
In contrast, NetEnt’s second most popular slot is Gonzo ’s Quest. A game all about higher variance, high-risk, high-reward fun.
Players looking to try this release should prepare for a long grind before landing any big wins. Available special features include free spins, the avalanche bonus, Wilds, and multipliers.
The slot Twin Spin stands out for its medium-high variance and above average RTP of 96.6%. It combines the style of a fruit machine with new gameplay.
This game also features twin reels and expanding twin reels – mirroring what happens from one reel onto the other.
Microgaming is a giant of the iGaming industry. This casino software provider has been there since the very beginning. The company leveraged its success to partner with numerous casino software developers.
Nowadays, Microgaming produces multiple games a month through its partner studios, delivering high-quality releases in the process.
The company’s most popular slot is Mega Moolah. Despite being an old title, one thing keeps it relevant all these years later: its progressive jackpot!
Mega Moolah frequently makes headlines with the impressive payouts it awards players. If you want a progressive jackpot worth playing, this should be on your radar.
Another top-tier entry from Microgaming is Immortal Romance. This high variance slot stood out when it first launched due to its story-heavy focus.
While that helped charm some players, what won them over were two things. The high RTP and a shot at winning over 12,000x their total stake!
Microgaming also caters to fans of classic slots. Those players can look forward to Break da Bank. By their nature, classic slots are simple, and this one is no exception.
Outside of a Wild symbol, Break da Bank has no special features. Just a three-reel board with five paylines.
When it comes to live casino games, nobody does it better than Evolution. The developer was among the first to commit to the live dealer niche back in the day.
Of course, plain live casino games are just part of what made Evolution famous. Their game shows are also some of the best currently on the market.
A particular player favourite is the ever-impressive Crazy Time. It retains its lucky wheel elements while adding a whole heap of exciting special features to trigger. If you only play one Evolution live game show, this should be it.
Another incredible addition Evolution brought to the live casino space are table games with multipliers. The casino software provider files all games that fit this category under its Lightning series.
The most popular of these games are Lightning Roulette and Lightning Blackjack. The simple gameplay of roulette combined with multipliers makes for a very fun game.
Play ‘n Go
Play’n GO is a well-known software provider for fans of slots. By far, their most successful game is Book of Dead. It was not the first ‘book of’ slot to hit the market.
However, the Book of Dead helped popularize the concept. A high variance game with exciting special features, players should check this title out.
The developer is also responsible for one of the most successful cluster pay slots. Reactoonz offers high variance gameplay on a large 7x7 reel.
Players can enjoy cascading reels, expanding symbols, mega symbols, multipliers, symbol collection and symbol swapping. A whole heap of bonuses for casino members to enjoy.
The Fire Joker slot shows that Play’n GO knows their way around classic slots, as well. Alongside the standard three-reel fun, the developer adds two bonuses to look forward to.
One is the sticky symbol respin feature. The other is the wheel of multiplier bonus.
Since its inception, Pragmatic Play has been producing high-quality slots. One of their best-known games is Wolf Gold, a game with a cool native American theme.
Available special features include re-spins, free spins, multipliers, and three fixed jackpots.
Another Pragmatic Play player favourite is Sweet Bonanza. This candy-themed slot gives players a fun theme and a highly volatile cluster pays game.
Notable bonuses include cascading reels and free spins with multipliers. You can increase your odds of winning free spins by activating the Ante side bet.
Dog lovers can look forward to Pragmatic Play’s The Dog House. High variance fun comes backed with quite a few special features.
Wilds with random multipliers and free spins both do their part in helping you score the 6,750x jackpot.
Pragmatic Play also has a rather interesting take on fruit slots. Rather than opting for a classic three-reel slot approach, Fruit Party goes the opposite route.
The developer offers a seven-reel, seven-row board with cluster pays. Notable bonuses include cascading reels, random multipliers, and free spins.
When we think of Playtech, our mind immediately jumps to progressive jackpots. Playtech is the king of progressives, especially their Age of the Gods series.
The games cover a wide range of special features, adding to the diversity of gameplay. However, all of them share the same Greek gods theme and four mouth-watering progressive jackpots!
Another fantastic slot by Playtech launched in 2017 when Epic Ape hit the scene. You play the game on a six-reel, four-row board with 4,096 ways to win.
The variance is medium, bordering on high. In terms of special features, Epic Ape prefers to keep it sweet and simple. Players receive a free spins round and Wilds with random multipliers during free spins.
However, the most interesting thing about Playtech for us is their live casino games. Playtech is one of the largest live dealer casino software providers.
They offer standard table games, table games with multipliers, and various game shows. Unique to Playtech are live slots: live-streamed versions of their most popular slot games.
Best Casino Game Developers
One of the first things you learn about online casinos is that there is a large difference in quality between developers. Countless casino software providers are competing for your time and attention, after all.
Not all of them put in the same amount of effort. Established developers are always a safe bet, owing to their experience producing top-notch games. However, many up-and-coming casino software developers are waiting for a chance to prove themselves.
Of course, finding the correct casino software provider for you can be time-consuming. You need to find a developer who has the games you want to play and offers a sufficiently fair and high-quality experience.
When checking out a new casino software developer, we look at several factors. We recommend doing the same to determine the casino software provider’s quality. Alternatively, check out our software reviews to see if a developer is right for you.
A quick, though not always reliable way to check for quality is to look at the casino software provider’s portfolio. A big list of games can often indicate an experienced developer who has been around for a while.
Casino software developers with tons of games also have a more diverse offering of titles. That means greater chances of finding the release you want to play.
All of the best software providers are experienced software providers with many titles under their belt. If the developer you are looking at fits this bill, you are probably in for a treat.
The best developers also put plenty of effort into the visuals of any game they create. Impressive visuals were not always realistic for casino games.
However, casino software providers were able to take advantage of the increasing power of mobile devices. This, in turn, has led to many games increasing the effort they place into visuals.
Not all games are going all out on graphics. Some game types, such as classic slots, keep simpler visuals as part of their appeal. As a general rule of thumb, though? Great visuals indicate quality developers.
The audio side of casino games is overlooked until you notice something has gone wrong. Something like the sound of cards shuffling feeling off or the music in a slot being annoying.
The audio side of things can be very easy to mess up, even for good game developers. You have to make music and sound effects of sufficient quality.
Then on top of that, casino software developers need to make them work together well. Some casino software providers even have two music tracks. One when the game is actively being played, and another when the game is idle.
Of course, there is more to great games than just mouth-watering visuals and great audio. The history of casino software developer and their innovation also counts.
Innovation is part of what makes online casino games so appealing. The popular trend of Megaways slots was driven by Big Time Gaming’s innovation.
Cluster pays, cascading reels, table games with multipliers, and ways to win are just some innovations in recent years. A developer on the cutting edge of new ideas is always one to keep an eye out for.
Another metric important for casino software providers is their compatibility with different devices. Admittedly, this is not an issue anymore.
Almost every casino software developer has made the swap away from Flash to HTML5. Nowadays, all games are available on both mobile devices and personal computers.
In fact, with Adobe Flash no longer being supported on PCs, games still using Flash are impossible to play. Developers even designed some games to be played on mobile devices first, with desktop computers and laptops as an afterthought.
Which software provider is the best?
Picking the best casino software developer is impossible. There are simply too many great casino software providers. On top of that, different developers may win out over others depending on what metric you are rating them.
Are you looking for the best slot developer? Are you hunting for the best live casino games? Do you want the software provider with the biggest progressive jackpots? Depending on your answer, which developer is the best changes quite a bit.
Are all software developers fair and safe?
If we have a review of a casino software developer on our website, they are fair and safe. CasinoScout only features games made by trustworthy casino software providers. We may like or dislike the quality of their games, but we do not question that they are fair and safe.
Can I play casino games for free?
That usually depends on the type of game you are going after. Most casino games do allow you to test them in demo mode at no cost. However, there is a notable exception to this rule: live casino games. Live dealer releases cannot be played free.
If you want to test those games, you will have to be ready to shell out some cash. Additionally, some online casinos may decide to disable demo mode. In such cases, you can usually try a game on the casino software developer’s website.
Do I have to download casino software?
No online casino nowadays requires you to download casino software of any kind. With technology advancing, the need to download additional software has gone the way of the dodo. Phones and tablets have native support for almost all releases you may want to play. As such, you can pick whatever online casino you want to play in without having to chase after any apps.