Game provider Review 2020: Microgaming
The background to Microgaming slots
Microgaming was probably responsible for creating the world’s first-ever Online Casino, way back in 1994.
In the two and a half decades that followed, they never stopped innovating and growing, to the point where they can now somewhat justifiably claim to be the biggest Operator in the Casino industry. They’re a privately-owned company operating from the Isle of Man.
There are over 120 Microgaming mobile casinos, using the Viper software they developed back in 2002 and which was a real game-changer in the industry.
The Microgaming mobile Casino list includes most of the biggest names out there. Many of those have a Microgaming mobile no deposit bonus available so you can play a few spins on the house to get the feel for things before playing with your own money.
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There are over 850 different Microgaming Casino games including over 400 Microgaming slots, with the company claiming to release an average of four new online slots a month. But their slots are just one of many things they do because they also have Poker and Sportsbook products, Live Dealer Games, Video Poker and special products made especially for Mobile. They really are one of those Operators who like to be involved in all aspects of the gaming industry.
They offer their mobile Microgaming casinos in both download and flash versions and you can play their range of games using 25 different currencies and access their Casino content in 45 different languages. You can play Microgaming games using a host of different devices including Apple products, Android phones and tablets, Blackberry and Java powered devices.
The history of the company reads like a list of key IGaming landmarks, including:
- Becoming a founding member of eCOGRA in 2003 and winning Gambling Online Magazine’s Top Casino Software award that same year.
- Seeing 23 of their Casinos receive eCOGRA seals of approval in 2004 and winning the Top Casino Software award again, alongside the Editor’s Pick Award.
- Being the first company to give out over 20 million USD in Progressive Jackpot payouts, distributed across 5600+ winning players.
- Being responsible for 8 of the 10 biggest slots Jackpot payouts in history thanks to their flagship Progressive Jackpot slot Mega Moolah. Payouts included wins of GBP13, 212, 883 (October 2015) and GBP 9,572,528 (March 2017). Only on Mega Fortune by NetEnt has a bigger win than the GBP 13 million been secured when in 2013 a Finnish player walked away with over 17 million Euros.
Style of slots and special features
When there are as many Microgaming slot games as there are, it’s hard to say that the provider makes a certain type of slot, explores a particular theme or that they all share similar characteristics: they really have made all manner of different games.
The likes of Avalon/Avalon II, Thunderstruck/Thunderstruck II, Ariana, Bust the Bank, Jungle Jim, Lost Vegas and Immortal Romance are amongst the best-known Microgaming mobile games from amongst those that are original creations of theirs, rather than branded slots.
They’ve made the odd sports-themed slot like the tennis-based Centre Court, walked over the well-trodden path of Asian themed slots with the likes of Asian Beauty and made a handful of animal-themed games with Rabbit in the hat and Untamed Giant Panda arguably the most famous.
As is often the case with the biggest providers, they also have a healthy range of branded games. These include Tomb Raider, Terminator 2, Tarzan and Bridesmaids.
There’s the famous Microgaming 243 ways to win feature present in many of their games. Though as I often say in our slot reviews, that doesn’t mean you have greater chances of winning. It just means there are far more varied ways of winning with each spin.
Another trademark element of Microgaming slots is that some of their Jackpots such as Mega Moolah, are divided into four different types: Mega, Major, Minor and Mini. The Mega is the one that sets all those records for the biggest payouts and is obviously the biggest of the four but is also the hardest to win. But by having four different Jackpots, it also means that the two smaller ones are regularly won, albeit for much smaller amounts. In fact, these can be won several times a day.
The release of Castle Builder II in the second quarter of 2017 gives us a few clues as to what the future might hold for Microgaming games going forward.
It’s an example of a slot that bridges the gap between online slots and social gamification. By that I mean that you can of course win very decent amounts of money playing it but there’s more to it than that. It also has elements of console video games in that there are three different storylines depending on which of the three player avatars you pick. Each of those storylines has its own features set and in total there are 15 kingdoms to explore, 75 castles to build and incredibly, over 300 characters to interact with.
Along the way, you can also enjoy a comprehensive achievement and cup challenges system where trophies can be earned.
In other words, a far cry from your normal slot that can only be played in one mode.
The rise of third part slot suppliers
As Thomas Schleischitz, CEO of Rabcat* summed it up:
‘We have had great success with Castle Builder, launching the game to over 80 operators worldwide. The second instalment provides extended gameplay and high replay value by way of more kingdoms, more levels and more achievements. By embracing the concept of unlocking content and continuous progression, the game encourages players to come back for more.’
Making such a complex slot does of course require a huge amount of time and money to do so we can’t be expecting the release of a slot such as this every couple of months. But it might just be that they aim to release a multi-dimensional slot such as this every year or so from now on.
Castle Builder II is of course the sequel to Castle Builder, nominated as EGR’s 2013 Game of the Year.
What this also suggests is that if Avalon and Thunderstruck also have their own sequels, it may be that they carry on doing so for some of the their other more celebrated slots. Maybe Immortal Romance II is on the cards?
Or it may be that they decide that a huge new Jackpot game is needed. As awesome as Mega Moolah is, it’s been around for a while and (dare we say it) is just starting to look a bit dated. The wins on offer are as big as ever of course but Microgaming might just decide a new super Jackpot is required.
Microgaming slots RTP
As is very often the case with makers of slots, there are quite varied denominations of RTP (return to player) amongst the different Playtech slots.
Truth be told, if your choice of a slot is strongly influenced by the most generous RTPs on offer, Microgaming games are unlikely to be near the top of your list. The slots that have RTPs of 98% and above are generally made by the likes of NetEnt, Thunderkick and Multi slots.
But the likes of Arabian Rose and Hot Ink are the best Microgaming slots when it comes to that, with RTPs of 97.5%, followed by Treasure Island (97.07%). It’s probably fair to say that an RTP of 97% is about the norm for Microgaming online slots because you can find a long list that have that exact RTP figure. It includes Bridesmaids, Hot as Hades and Lucky Leprachaun’s Loot.
G2G’ Top 3 favourite Microgaming slots
Bridesmaids the movie has the (somewhat dubious) honour of being the highest grossing R-rated female comedy of all time, having made over 153 million USD at the box office.
For that reason alone, the Bridesmaids slot was always likely to have lots of fans. But it should have fans in its own right because it’s a top-class slot.
There’s a Friendship Free Spins round and a Flying High Free Spins round to look forward to, a Wheel Bonus with sky-high multipliers and the chance to win the slot’s Jackpot, plus a Boutique Bonus. And to round off a quintet of great bonus features, you could also activate the Magic Moments Bonus.
All the main characters are there, delivering some of their memorable lines from the film and if you’re getting withdrawal symptoms from the movie, you’ll get to see HD clips from the film itself.
All in all, a good example of what a branded slot should be all about.
In relative terms, a game from way back in 2011 is a real veteran but make no mistake, this is one of the best Microgaming slots. And it says a lot about the game itself and its cult following that it’s still widely played today despite the fact that new slots are released every week.
It doesn’t have the levels of complexity of Castle Builder II of course but it was one of the first slots anywhere to have a real element of storytelling. In a way somewhat similar to the Twilight movies and TV’s Vampire Diaries, it’s about a forbidden love triangle involving vampires that’s never to going to satisfy everyone.
Featuring eerie and ominous music, the slot has enough bonus features to keep you entertained for a while. You can choose from different amounts of free spins with different multipliers when you get three Scatters and further entries into the Chamber of Free Sins bring you new rewards you didn’t get the first time. Elsewhere, the Wild Desire Feature can see up to 5 reels being turned into Wilds.
But what really makes the game are the underlying plots and beautiful, mysterious and dangerous characters you meet along the way. Not just a slot but also an experience.
This may seem like a slightly strange choice when there are so many more high-profile Microgaming slots at the G2G free slot page. But I loved it when I reviewed it here at G2G and I still love it now.
If there was a chart for cutest mobile slot characters somewhere, the four Dragonz would be pretty near the top. But it’s not just about how they look, it’s also about what they do. Each of them does his own thing during the free spins round. Such as a Wild being frozen in place with a breath of frozen air or flaming Wilds coming into play when the red dragon blows fire onto a random symbol.
There’s also a Wild Deal Feature where a non-winning spin results in symbols being turned into Wilds during the base game until you win somewhere.
The different free spins are super fun, albeit a feature that exists in other slots of course. But what brings this to life are the Dragonz themselves.
You can, of course, play free Microgaming slots at the G2G to get to know them. But to play for real money, you’ll need to open a real-money account.
Microgaming Progressive Jackpots
I’ve gone on and on about Mega Moolah and that’s understandable given it’s neck and neck with NetEnt’s Mega Fortune (and to a lesser extent Mega Fortune Dreams) as the best known and highest paying slots Jackpot in the world.
What I haven’t mentioned is that there’s actually a huge Jackpot to be won that’s connected to several Microgaming Jackpot slots called…Mega Moolah. Somewhat confusingly, they include the individual Mega Moolah slot itself plus Mega Moolah Isis; but also other games such as The Dark Knight.
In other words, any spin on any of the slots connected to that Jackpot will add to the total amount that can be won. Back in 2009, a Greek player secured 6.3million Euros this way and if you’ve been paying attention so far, you’ll have guessed that Microgaming paid it all in one go.
Microgaming slots will appeal to players who like:
- A huge selection of games covering all manner of traditional slot themes plus some totally unique ones.
- Slots with storylines within the games such as Castle Builder I and II and Immortal Romance.
- Huge Jackpots made up of several slots contributing to them.
- Slots with endless different ways of winning. Many of theirs have their trademark ‘243 different ways’ to win method.
- Playing slots using numerous different mobile devices.
Microgaming slots won’t appeal to players who like
- Slots where the artwork and design are as important (or more so) as the theme and the bonuses. Microgaming slots aren’t as beautiful as some others.
- Unique bonus features. Most of their slots tend to have the traditional free spins and use of different Wilds rather than bonus rounds that aren’t present on any other slot.
- Playing from the US. Microgaming pulled out of the US slot-playing business in 2008.
My conclusion about Microgaming
There are two ways to look at Microgaming.
The first is that they’re quite simply a giant of the industry. There’s arguably no other player involved in so many aspects of online Gaming; no-one has so many fingers in so many pies. Talking just about slots now and not only do they already have a huge portfolio of slots meaning there’s something for everyone, but they also keep on producing new ones.
If you were only allowed to play Microgaming slots and no-one else’s, you’d still be entertained all day. Although in fairness, they don’t make slots as beautiful and delicate in terms of design as those made by the likes of Elk Studios or Quickspin.
But the other way to look at Microgaming is to see them as big innovators. As far back as 2011 with Immortal Romance, they were making up storylines within slots and Castle Builder II may well prove to be the future of slots. Games that are as much about long-term progression and achievements as they are about short-term instant wins.
When they have the portfolio of slots they have, the staff, budgets, clients and experience they do, the world really is their oyster. Let’s wait and see what their next move is.