The majority of games you will play at online casino sites are provided by third party software platforms. The primary reason for this is so that casinos can host the biggest and most famous titles, achieve higher jackpot and prize amounts than they could do on their own and to reduce the costs to the casino of developing, running and maintaining their own games.
Many of us prefer some software providers over others and will seek out casinos that host titles from a specific brand. Different casinos sites however have a very different set ups, some will host a single software with a comprehensive selection of their games, others host multiple software packages but will often cherry pick the titles.
Whether you prefer a sprawling casino with 1000's of games form 10's of providers or you would rather have a more bijoux brand that specialises in one package, we list a mixed variety of casino sites to suit everybody's needs. In our software guides you can find casinos that host those titles as well as information about the software brands, top titles, history and much more.
Software providers don't come more experienced that Microgaming. The company was established in 1994 initially running one of the first online casinos before focusing on developing games. Based in the Isle of Man Microgaming now provide over 1200 game variations available through over 450 casino brands worldwide. With a focus on high quality and unique game story lines the developer specialises in licenced theme games (e.g. Jurassic Park), massive jackpot titles (e.g. Mega Moolah), tournament games and titles for all device types and platforms.
Playtech are the world largest, publicly traded, online casino games software provider in the world. They offer a catalogue of around 500 games, releasing around 50 new titles each year but also retiring older titles to keep the games fresh and manageable. Some of the biggest casino brands in the world host Playtech games and this is testament to both the reliability and quality of the provider. Playtech offer branded games from the likes of Marvel, Paramount, HBO and others giving us hugely popular titles like Batman and Gladiator, they also run some of the biggest jackpot games available.
NetEnt are a casino software provider that are renowned for producing superior games with an engaging story and a high level of detail. Despite being over 20 years old the company hasn't tried to grow up too quickly, they have instead focused on delivering a catalogue of just over 200 casino, live and jackpot titles that are all individually developed and unique in character. With now famous titles such as Gonzo's Quest and huge jackpot games like Mega Fortune NetEnt's games are loved by players and it is no coincidence that some of the biggest and most reputable casinos run NetEnt games.
IGT are not just an online casino game and software developer they are in fact integrally linked to the history of electronic casino gaming. The company began in Nevada in the mid-1970's becoming the first to develop and roll out Video Poker, this led to huge success for the company who went on to pioneer many advances in land based and online virtual gaming, including the first progressive jackpot title. These days IGT are one of the worlds biggest gaming providers.
Gamesys sometimes get lumped in as a bingo games developer but do not count them out too quickly, Gamesys have a very attractive and unique set of casino games and brands that are perfect for those looking for something different to normal. With iconic brand names such as Virgin and fantastic themed games such as Monopoly and The Godfather this developer, despite having a smaller catalogue, provides someone of the most recognisable games in the business.
If you mention the words 'Live Casino' in industry circles, Evolution Gaming will probably be the next words out of somebodies mouth. These guys are specialists in live game content, focussing solely in this area and a leading the industry with innovative new products and new game ideas that break down barriers. Evolution are often immitated but never matched.
This Swedish developer entered the industry a little late but wasted no time in announcing their arrival. They enjoyed 10 years worth of continuous growth both developing games and providing software solutions to other businesses, before they caught the eye of another industry great. Now operating as part of SG Digital, NYX made a big impact in the decade they were around, and their trademark qualities can still be seen today in SG's content.
A Birmingham based company that started in the physical game machine industry before moving online, InTouch Games are fiercely independent, running a string of their own casinos and creating all of their own content. You will not find the same old games from this operator/developer; every single title is unique and exclusive to their brands. They are especially fond of jackpots with every single game offering one, and they also provide roulette, blackjack, and bingo products.
Dragonfish are the B2B division of 888 Holdings, owner of the famous 888 brand. Dragonfish themselves provide online casino solutions, poker products, and run a huge bingo netowrk too. Being a subsidiary of such a huge company meant that they hit the ground running when they started, and were quickly able to offer their customers a diverse range of top quality products thanks to 888's already established portfolio, including Section8 Studios who develop all of their slots and side games.
You could probably consider Quickspin as one of the 'young guns' in slot developer circles, despite the fact that they have a decades worth of experienc eunder their belt. They are a single minded company focussing solely on creating great slots with no other distractions, and this has led them to develop some of the industries finest games. Not only that, but it led to one of the industry's biggest companies making them an offer that they couldn't refuse.
Play'n GO have been beavering away since the late nineties, but have not recieived the same level of acclaim as other time served developers. This has nothing to do with the quality of their work though, which speaks for itself. Over the last few years they have enjoyed more of the limelight thanks to partnerships with some very big operators, and their games are known for their creativty and indivduality.
A truly global operation which operates in every single area of the gambling industry. That means that Novomatic develop and supply online games, real life gaming machines and cabinets, back end technology and casino systems, sports betting, and much more besides. Less well known as a brand than some of the others on this list, Novomatic are nevertheless one of the biggest companies we have written about, and with 40 years worth of experience they are certainly worth knowing about.
Casino Software Guide
What are casino software providers?
It would be hugely expensive for each individual online casino site to design and develop their own games from scratch and so in general most virtual casinos licence and host games from independent software providers.
The software provider is the company that make the games we like to play and therefore you see some of the same games at different casino websites. It is also the reason that progressive jackpots get so high, as they are fed by players from hundreds of casinos not just one.
This is a very efficient and effective means of running casinos. Having central software providers allows online casinos to save a fortune on developing and maintaining titles, which ultimately means the games provide themselves provide better value to the player.
Some casinos make their own games or run their own proprietary software, such as 888 and Dragonfish, but overall most casinos simply licence the games they would like to feature. Some online casinos specialise in games from just one software, such as 32Red who only offer Microgaming games, but most will host titles from numerous providers (but not always the entire catalogue).
How Do I Know What Software A Casino Uses?
To be honest it is not actually that easy to tell a lot of the time. Some online casinos will break down their games by software but most do not. Unless you are familiar with specific games from individual software providers it can be difficult to tell what software a casino uses.
Casinos tend to package games into sections, slots, table games, jackpots, etc., and in there they may have games from several different software companies. Other casinos run different software packages in different sections. Ladbrokes, for example, have a main casino section with Playech games only but in their games and slots sections they host games from NetEnt and a range of other providers.
In general a casino will have one or two main software packages, where they host most of the game from those catalogues, alongside a selection of cherry picked titles from other operators. The best way to find out how many games from each provider a casino has is to read our in depth casino site reviews or simply ask your casino site directly.
Download casinos are in effect run by the software provider, not the casino itself, so if you are playing through a download you can be fairly sure you are playing with just one software provider. For example the 32Red download is provided by Microgaming, the William Hill download is run by Playtech.
If you want to know which software provider created a specific game they best way to find out is to simply search for "game name" software.
Single vs Multiple Software Casino Sites
There is no particular benefit to using a casino site with one or multiple software, it all comes down to what you want from casino.
I personally have accounts with many casino sites, this gives me the best of all worlds as I can use single software casinos or multiple software casinos depending on what games I want to play and what promotions I want to take advantage of.
Of course this also allows you to take advantage of more than one welcome bonus or retention offer that might add further value to your gameplay.
Benefits of Single Software Sites
Single, or low number, software casino sites tend to have a smaller catalogue of games, although this is not necessarily a bad thing. Too many titles can make interfaces both crowded and slow while also making find the games you want to play difficult. If you predominantly play games from just one provider it actually makes a huge amount of sense to play with a single software site.
Another benefit of playing with single software casinos is the promotions and features are tailored to games from that provider. This means if you like playing Microgaming games for example then when playing with a Microgaming only brand you are more likely to get rewards and therefore better value over time.
Customer support is often much better with casinos that use fewer software's. This is mainly due to a better understanding between the casino site and the software provider that enables them to focus more on the user experience and customer service.
Finally you are more likely to get a complete catalogue of games from single host sites and so if you want to be able to play all the titles from a given provider, not just the biggest, then look for a site like this. If a casino offers a download it will contain pretty much all of the games from that software company.
Benefits of Multiple Software Sites
Choice is the obvious pro when using a site with games from multiple providers, so if you don't prefer a specific games provider then you will be better off with a more diverse site. Multiple software casino sites also tend to, have a higher number of total games available.
Sites that run games from several companies are better for strategic players. If, for example, you like to play multiple jackpot games but you like to target those with the highest payouts or are due a payout then the best way to do this is with a site that features many providers.
If you are someone who likes to play new titles as they come out then you will have the best chance of doing this with multi-software casinos.
Finally multiple game providers allow you to broaden your game play more so than single providers. It is easier to compare and contrast the games from various software companies when using sites like these.
Are Bigger Software Providers Better?
By no means. Bigger providers have a larger games catalogue and a greater range but just like anything in life bigger isn't always better. Many smaller developers can provide unique, novelty and bespoke titles or fill certain niches that larger companies often miss. There are many who will search far and wide to find casinos that host games from smaller outfits as this tends to give them a less corporate feel.
Smaller developers are becoming rarer, the way the industry has become many of the big software companies now simply buy up smaller brands. Playtech for example have been on a merger and acquisition mission over the last ten years acquiring smaller brands such as Ash Gaming and Quickspin. Overall the larger companies keep these brands as separate entities but whether this lasts only time will tell. It is possible in another ten years that the casino software industry may have been consolidated into just a few super brands and I am not sure that is a good thing for players.
For me, if I have the choice, I would always prefer to play games in HTML5 format rather than flash. The advantages of HTML5 over flash are clear but it is still going to take many years for older games and content to be updated to the new language. Hey in that time maybe flash will finally get better too and we will want to switch back.
Flash has been around since the mid 1990's with its first version released in 1997 and this made it to the go to language for rendering video and audio in web browsers. A process critical to playing instant play casino games. Flash has come in for a lot of stick over the years, its famous bowser plugin is cited as one of the major causes of browser crashes globally and a source of huge irritation for users, especially those playing casino games at the time.
People can be a little unfair about flash, the plugin has brought us all the ability to watch and stream through web browsers bringing instant enjoyment to the masses for many years. Then again in all of that time they never did find a way to make the system stable and I think most users now say that it has had its time.
There are lots of casino games that are still Flash based and there are many developers that will continue to develop using flash in the future. Flash is still a better system for 3D rendering and for high graphic output and so for high end desktop based games flash is not going away anytime soon.
It is mobile and other small devices where the biggest problems with flash are seen. Less than 5% of mobile devices support flash and may modern tablet and small PC devices struggle to support the flash plugins. It is the switch from using desktop to mobile for entertainments, such as playing casino games, that has led to the decline of flash based media with HTML5 now the preferred language.
Flash games are more reliable if you have the latest version of your browser plugin downloaded and you reduce the number of widows open using flash.
HTML5 allows media to be rendered directly in your browser or on your device without the need for a third-party plugin. Cutting out the plugin itself reduces the chances of your device or web browser from crashing by several fold. The technology also requires no additional configurations whether you are using an android, apple, windows, MAC, or any other operating system.
What HTML5 does in basic terms is streamline and improve the language for supporting the latest multimedia while at the same time maintaining an easily readable format for both devices and people. The technology was set up in a way that different processing models can be used in different combinations to extend the versatility and range of the language.
HTML5 was created with low powered mobile devices in mind. The flexibility of the language coupled with the ability to play media on almost all platforms means that the tech is now the preferred choice for cross-platform casino products. With most casinos sites now designed to move interchangeably between any sized device HTML5 has become the new go to language for new games.
Flash and HTML5 reflect the landscape they were born in, back when Flash launched all devices were desktop but when HLTM5 launched proper in 2014 most people were in the process of switching to mobile devices as their primary means of using the internet.
HTML5 will not completely replace flash, in the short term at least, but it will before long be the major language for the majority of online casino games from software providers.