Part of our mission here at Metap is taking you behind the scenes of the online casino industry. The vast majority of online casinos are powered by a small group of prominent software providers and getting to know a little about these powerful industry players can help you both as a player and potential casino owner yourself.
In this article we’ll cover one of the best known online casino software providers in the business – Microgaming.
Microgaming has decades of experience behind it and is credited with developing the first online casino all the way back in 1994. Today Microgaming software is behind a raft of online casinos, and they are firmly established as one of the leading software suppliers in the gambling industry.
Based in the Isle of Man, Microgaming produce a wide variety of gambling software including more than 700 unique casino games with over 1200 variants. Microgaming use a mix of licensed and proprietary content for their games and tend to bring out new games every month to keep their casinos feeling fresh for players.
In addition to their impressive range of titles, Microgaming is also responsible for the largest online Bingo pay-out in history – a staggering £5.88 million – and the single largest mobile gaming win of £3.7 million. The company has also won several industry awards for technical innovation and they provide a compelling range of mobile, flash and download applications for players to enjoy their games.
Within the online gambling industry, casinos themselves are typically run by operators (32 Red would be a classic example) but rely on the infrastructure supplied by software vendors to provide the actual online casino experience. Although each casino will differ in appearance with branding and graphics differing from operator to operator, the games themselves – the user interface and the chat systems etc. – are more or less the same for all casinos running on a specific software.
Although operators can choose which games and features they allow customers access to, the number, type and usability of games within a casino usually reflect the underlying software used to create them.
When you hear the phrase “Microgaming casinos”, it refers to those casinos which use the Microgaming software architecture to run their games. They’ll offer the same wide choice of games – along with a unified jackpot structure – as other Microgaming sites, regardless of who the individual operator is.
There are several benefits to Microgaming sites. Let’s run through a few of them:
- Branded slot games: Microgaming sites are best known for the wide variety of interactive video slots they provide, in particular the licensed content games such as Jurassic Park and Batman. These offer great playing experiences for customers and attractive pay-out levels. These kinds of licensed games are unique to Microgaming casinos and are highly attractive to players.
- Game choice: Microgaming offers the widest choice of games in the market. With over 600 games available to play including slots, blackjack, roulette and video poker, there is something to appeal to almost every customer. In addition, Microgaming also has the largest number of different slot machines available for play with new ones introduced regularly to ensure slot players are always kept entertained.
- Accessibility: Microgaming casinos can be accessed across a variety of platforms and are available in both browser-based Flash and download forms for computers. You’ll also find versions specifically tailored to mobile platforms to ensure customers can play games when and where they want.
- High development standards: Microgaming pride themselves on using the latest technologies in their development process ensuring that their software and games are always ahead of the technological curve.
While there are many benefits to Microgaming casinos, it’s worth pointing out that they can present some issues as well:
- Regional restrictions: As with many casino software systems, Microgaming sites do not accept players from the USA. This is most often attributed to the illegality of online gambling in many US states but it is also driven by the taxation situation. The US imposes very high taxes on online gambling and also severely restricts the ability to advertise, two factors that make it easy to fall foul of the law when promoting the casino.
- Software compatibility: Players can occasionally run into minor issues with the Microgaming software. One of the more common is that it tends to hog the internet connection while in use. For instance, downloading something in the background whilst playing a game can lead to unresponsiveness and delays in cards being dealt, or slot reels spinning forever. Avoiding this is simple – just don’t download anything while you’re playing.
- Progressive jackpot availability: Obviously the very big progressive jackpot wins are rare and your chances of success are slim, but the process of winning is not the same as normal games and can confuse the unwary. When a progressive jackpot is won, a message pops up for the player telling them it is a large win. Unless you click ‘OK’ on this pop-up, the money is not added to your account. Those who get overexcited and browse straight to their banking options find no jackpot. This can be somewhat painful to sort out after the fact so be warned!
Regular users of Microgaming online casinos will be familiar with the range of popular titles they provide with slots being a particular speciality. Here’s a quick introduction to some of the engaging slots and table games you’ll come across online:
- Blaze Poker: This is a fast playing form of poker where you join a large pool of players. At the beginning of each hand, you are seated randomly at a table and so face different opponents for each hand you play. You can join the pool multiple times and play several tables at once. The software automatically ensures that you are never placed on the same table with yourself. Because of the fast play and interesting mechanics, there are opportunities for quick wins here. The fast-fold mechanism which allows you to instantly drop out of a game if the cards are not right means the action is relentless.
- Mega Moolah: The Mega Moolah slot is a progressive jackpot game that at one time held the record for the largest jackpot pay-out in history. It is a 5-reel, 25 pay-line slot machine whose jackpot starts at one million euros and grows from there. It uses the Lion King license for its iconography and includes wilds, scatters and other bonuses to keep players entertained. Mega Moolah’s progressive bonus grows with every play on all Mega Mollah games across the Microgaming network, regardless of which operator the player is using. This makes it the largest progressive jackpot network available anywhere online.
- Major Millions: This is a 3-reel 3 pay-line slot title with a progressive jackpot that uses a military theme for its gameplay. This is the largest progressive jackpot for 3-reel slots available and requires the player to get three Major Millions symbols on the third pay-line to win the jackpot.
- Jurassic Park: Aside from the familiar branding and imagery used with this licensed game, the standout feature of Jurrassc Park is that there are 243 ways to win. It is a 5-reel machine and offers winning permutations from every visible symbol. This is perhaps the most well-known online slot game on the market. With the extremely popular license generating a large amount of interest for the Microgaming software, it’s considered one of the pioneers of the licensed property idea for online slot content.
- Tomb Raider: Another popular licensed product, Tomb Raider is a 5-reel slot with 15 pay-lines. Five coins can be wagered per play with various wilds and scatters and free spins being awarded for various combinations. Tomb Raider is perhaps not as well-known as the Jurassic Park license but still represented something of a breakthrough in licensing terms upon its arrival. For many players, it’s the highlight of the entire slot range offered by Microgaming.
Just as in the operator space, the world of online casino software providers is an intensely competitive one. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the leading software providers who compete directly with Microgaming.
- Playtech: Best known for their live dealer table games, Playtech formed all the way back in 1999. The company struggled somewhat until 2002 and their introduction of live dealer games for blackjack and roulette – a development designed to appeal to players who thought computerised versions of these games could not be trusted. Find out more in our guide to Playtech casinos.
- Cryptologic: Cryptologic competes directly with Microgaming as the most technologically advanced and innovative software supplier on the market. They don’t have anywhere near the market penetration that Microgaming has, but focus instead on the virtual lobby to simulate Las Vegas style casinos. They’ve recently grabbed the lucrative Marvel license for their range of innovative slots. We've also covered Cryptologic casinos in depth here on the site.
- Real Time Gaming: RTG offer a wealth of gaming options for players and carry well over 100 games with a huge range of traditional casino games across their portfolio to suit every taste. RTG casinos are perhaps best known for their generous bonus features on many games and the fact that they accept USA players. Read more in our guide to Real Time Gaming casinos.
To get the best out of a Microgaming casino, or any casino for that matter, the key is to understand what is on offer in terms of gaming and bonuses and extract the maximum benefit.
Bonuses for sign up are where most people start. These are dictated by the operator to a large extent so different Microgaming casinos can have different bonus offers. Rather than just jump in at the biggest one, it’s well worth examining the playthrough restrictions – how much money you have to bet in games before you can make any withdrawals – to ensure you find the best deal. The largest bonus is not always the best one!
In addition, there may be further restrictions on which games count towards the playthrough bonus. Choosing a bonus that discounts the games you actually want to play would again be a bad choice here, even if on the surface the deposit bonus seems more generous.
Once you understand the bonus system in place, the next thing to look at are the games themselves. Microgaming offers some of the highest pay-out percentages in the industry on their slot machines. The licensed games in particular are a lot of fun to play with plenty of animations and attractive graphics to keep things interesting.
With these 5-reel slots the key to success is to ‘activate’ all the win lines by playing with five coins per spin. This can seem counter-intuitive but, with all win lines active, any win symbol combo visible pays out. This gives you 243 ways to win when you play this way, which is well worth the extra cost per spin.
With its vast range of games – more choice than any other software provider – the hugely fun slots and innovative games such as Blaze Poker, Microgaming casinos have a lot to offer players. They’re well worth seeking out when looking for your online casino.
A huge number of operators use Microgaming software to run their online casinos so finding a suitable one is easy. With the range of gameplay options available you should be supported regardless of which platform you usually play on.
Of course, while playing games for fun is what most of us do, we all like to win every now and then too. Microgaming has a lot to offer here and its range of progressive jackpots are the largest in the industry. If your luck is in and you win the big one, you could be taking home a significant chunk of change from a Microgaming casino!