What, When, Where, Why, How, Who
If you’ve been a fan of online gambling for longer than 30 seconds then you’ve definitely heard of Microgaming. This iconic online casino software provider is literally one the founding fathers of the fun and sophisticated online gambling experience we both love and hate today.
Launched in the late nineties, alongside their South African game development studio Derivco, Microgaming made its mark on the casino entertainment landscape by launching the first ever true online casino in 1994!
“They did what!? In 1994 the first online casino was hosted on the domain Casino.com. The domain was later allowed to lapse in favour of using the casino name. In 2003 Casino.com was bought by a competitor for $5.5 million!”
Since those early launches in 1994 the casino industry has seen the rise and fall of many newcomers but Microgaming still stands as a bastion of the value of future proofing your business through innovation, dependable software, trusted brand partnerships and an almost manic game development and release schedule!
“Not a One Trick Pony! Microgaming while known for their online and mobile slots were not going to rest on their laurels. They currently offer a diverse gambling portfolio including mobile and online poker, bingo, sports betting and even a land based casino!”
Are You Not Entertained?
The visionaries behind Microgaming’s success understood one thing about gambling, it is escapism. With this in mind they went on to produce a visual and thematic wonderland for players. A task made even easier as gameplay tastes were shifted, intentionally, from table games to slots.
“Another First! It’s a little known fact that it was a Microgaming casino brand that asked the software giant to develop a crazy promotional idea they’d come up with – the ability to offer Free Spins as signup incentive!”
In addition to creating eye catching graphics and entertaining win animations it was also necessary to keep give players a reason to choose their games over those offered by an increasing number of upstart providers. This need to remain fresh and relevant drove the development of several new bonus features and mini-games, in-play free spins, 3 dimensional characters paired with interactive backgrounds and multi-line online slots (gone are the days of online winning on 1 line, now you can spin with 1024 ways to win)!
An early development directive for the team at Microgaming was to ensure that players could enjoy the social element of gambling, playing with or against other players. This led to the very early multi-player games and specifically slot tournaments. While the initial developments were buggy and resource heavy as the technology progressed these features became increasingly popular with fans (as is witnessed by the fact that Microgaming offer over 35 multi-player games) and could even be seen as the reason we have Live Dealer games and casinos today!
Gambling On the Go!
If looking beyond the limitations of the humble home computer and seeing “Vegas in your living room” back in the nineties made the Microgaming team visionaries, then what they did in the early 2000’s was more akin to mad science! Microgaming looked at the humble mobile phone (back when colour screens were an exciting feature and mobile internet was both spotty and crazy expensive) and declared it the future of gambling! They went so far as to announce that it would one day be far more popular than other form of online gambling seen to date.
Many scoffed at that. Many would be proven wrong.
In the 2004 Microgaming launched their very first real money mobile casino game and… it was a train wreck!
Frequent server disconnections, spotty gameplay and poor deposit option selection were some of the day one issues facing mobile gambling. The other major issue was that players had to register an additional mobile casino account. They couldn’t simply login to the mobile casino with their pc casino account details as it was hosted on different servers, ran different software and therefore would not recognise the account details as being valid for mobile.
For limited game access, really small bonuses and a less than perfect experience this hardly seemed worth it to any but a few hardened futurists and technology lovers.
With their customer first hats on and their eye on the mobile casino prize Microgaming worked with those early users and casino brands to address each of those key items leading to the stellar mobile gambling product we so easily take for granted today.
Top 4 Mobile Casino Features Pioneered by Microgaming:
- Autoplay to take the tedium out of constant clicking
- Built-in disconnection insurance
- Instant in-device messaging
- The swipe-and-tap touchscreen interface
When we add these features to now only needing one casino account to play both mobile and download casino, a full list of deposit and withdrawal options on mobile, a selection of over 350 mobile games with amazing high definition graphics and the choice to either install an app or play casino games in your browser, it is clear that Microgaming’s prophecy about the future of mobile gaming technology and its impact on the market has come to pass.
“Time to Spin! To keep their tally of World Firsts ticking up, Microgaming conquered the world of wearable gambling technology by introducing the seminal slot for the Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch in February 2014!”
What is Quickfire and Why Do I Care?
Having a proven track record of understanding the ebb and flow of online gambling trends and keeping the player experience front and center at all times, Microgaming was quick to step into the multi-software provider arena with the introduction of Quickfire.
Until now, casino brands relied solely on the casino games and backend support products provided by one software provider to the exclusion of all others. Then players started asking for the ability to play their favourite games (be it based on previous wins, a love of the theme or good old gambling superstition) from various software providers in one hub – and the multi-platform casino was born.
With new casino brands eager to provide players with this exciting central casino hub where they have access to the best of breed online casino games, it is no surprise that Microgaming launched Quickfire to meet their demands. Quickfire is a platform which allows a multi-platform casino operators to access their games, marketing assets, branded content support and also promotes fun and rewarding (for both player and operator) game launches.
Not one to miss an opportunity to bulk up their game offering, Microgaming used the creation of this Quickfire hub to streamline the integration and launch of exclusive casino games titles developed by 3rd party suppliers such as Rabcat, Playson, 1x2 Gaming and many more.
While not created in-house these games go through the same vetting and quality assurance process as any in-house Microgaming game before being added to the Quickfire stable of games.
Games, Games and More Games
Their overarching commitment to player entertainment transcends just focusing on technology and focuses on the need to also offer experiences – for a casino this means offering as wide a selection of games, themes and jackpots as possible.
Never one to disappoint Microgaming fans have access to over 850 unique game titles. With a schedule that sees them releasing several new games each month they have relied heavily on making variants of those original games. Add their just over 1200 variants to their original games tally and you have a mind bogglingly massive library of casino games.
“A Rose by Any Other Name… A ‘variant game’ is where the reels, rules and payouts for a unique casino game are used as a template. The game developer then applies a new theme with custom graphics to it and releases it as a new game.”
Microgaming have also partnered with some of the biggest and most recognised pop culture franchises over the years. This has meant we have had the pleasure of enjoying our favourite on-screen characters come to life on the reels. These licensed big brand slot machines include Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galatica and the oh-so-sultry Playboy!
“Lord of the Spins! Microgaming held the exclusive licence to produce and promote an online and mobile Lord of the Rings slot machine, complete with actor imagery and video snippets direct from the film! When they retired it they reskinned the template as The Dark Knight slot, technically making it a branded variant slot.”
While they do take some flak from the more ardent slot fans for their reliance on boosting their delivery schedule with slots variants they have an outstanding track record of delivering in-house slots which have become long term fan favourites. These IP’s are wholly conceived, developed and produced by Microgaming themselves with no reliance on external brand leverage or external game development teams. These title include Avalon 2, Thunderstruck 2 and Immortal Romance, as well as the two massively popular progressive jackpot slots Mega Moolah and Major Millions!
Making Your Dreams Come True
While technology advancements and cool new toys are fantastic for the long term growth and development of the industry, when all is said and done as players there is always the dream of being that one in a million player who walks away with a life changing jackpot win.
Microgaming has never been shy of making millionaires out of its patrons, especially when it comes to the jackpot totals of their Progressive Slots!
3 Mind-blowing Microgaming Progressive Jackpot stats!
- Their progressive network is the world’s largest with over €820 million in payouts.
- They paid out €13.2 million on a 25p spin (a Guinness Record!)
- Their largest mobile jackpot win to date is €8,012,153 on Mega Moolah!
It goes without saying that gambling is entertainment first, this is not a guaranteed pay day – that’s why you have a day job – this is having fun and escapism with the upside of having Lady Luck favour you from time to time with a nice win!
Trust Is Earned
Understanding the confluence of human nature and the lure of gambling, Microgaming has been one of the industry’s staunchest advocates of Responsible Gaming and player protection.
Nothing states their recognition of this more than their own website which reads “[Microgaming] wouldn’t be where it is today had we not incorporated principles of fair play and responsible gaming into our ethos from the very beginning”.
Far from being lip service Microgaming demonstrate their dedication to ensuring player trust, protection and community development through participation in and adherence to:
- eCogra (e-Commerce and Online Game Regulation and Assurance) – they played a leading role in the creation of the now autonomous regulatory body focused on ensuring player protection, fair gaming practices and the adherence to responsible conduct by casino operators.
- RGA (Remote Gambling Association) – Microgaming adheres to the exacting standards of probity, integrity and social responsibility required by the RGA of all its members.
- Gambling Commission – Ensuring adherence to local legislation is key to Microgamings brand identity and success. Microgaming is fully licenced in the UK under the Gambling Act of 2005.
- MGA (Malta Gaming Authority) – In keeping with their adherence to gambling law and proving themselves trustworthy all Microgaming casino and poker products are regulated by the MGA
“Then and Now: While Microgaming was one of the casino groups which founded eCogra, a public buy-out and full replacement of all management in 2011 cemented eCogra’s commitment to being a fair, autonomous and unbiased advocate for the fair treatment of players world-wide!”
I Need A Little Help from My Friends
If one were jaded you could argue that doing what they do for their players and their adherence to gambling legislation is all about protecting the bottom line. It makes sense, coddle your players and play nice with the government and you stand to make a healthy profit.
Microgaming however is a card-carrying member of MeGA (Manx eGaming Association) which focuses their resources (financial and human) on the local economy and community of the Isle of Man.
Taking an active role in the development and support of their local community Microgaming launched the Pay It Forward initiative. Pay It Forward actively engages with the community at grass roots level by:
- Funding educational bursaries for university level studies (which are managed by the Isle of Man’s own Department of Education and Children).
- Funding local healthcare facilities and charities as the sole donor of the Microgaming Health and Care Trust.
- Supporting dozens of local charities (which fall out of the prevue of the Microgaming Health and Care Trust) with funding, support staff, marketing and prizes every year
- Sponsoring local sport teams and initiatives locally and abroad. They also provide PR service, event coordination and support staff to ensure events run smoothly.
- They are involved in several community facing programs from mobile libraries to local agricultural shows to supporting local theatre productions and the arts.
It is in their community outreach programs that Microgaming really show their true colours. Putting effort and finance into business is a no brainer, however their entrenchment in the local community shows their commitment to care goes beyond a simple mission statement on their website or clever words at a press conference.