Last updated January 2019
All the casino games you play online are made by software developers. In most cases, they’re completely separate from the casino itself. Software makers like NetEnt, Microgaming, Playtech and Novomatic specialise in creating fun, engaging and secure casino games, and they work in partnership with casinos to let you play for real money. Different casinos have different software partners. Some will only work with one (Slots Heaven only uses Playtech, for example), while others, like Videoslots.com, carry game from over a dozen software providers. All the online casinos on TopRatedCasinos.co.uk have been thoroughly researched, so we know everything from which casinos provide the best no deposit welcome bonuses to which offer top quality software. So if you’re big into NetEnt, see our top casino list. IGTmore your cup of tea? We’ve covered that, too. You can also browse our slots section to find a whole range of the best and newest games and see which software providers they use. If you don’t have your favourites already, you will soon!
Why should I know about online casino software?
A casino is only as good as the games it provides, so it’s helpful to have some understanding of software and the characteristics of different providers. Some casinos are powered by just one supplier, while others feature games from a wide variety of different software providers – over a dozen in some cases.
The best casino software brands have become recognisable for certain features of their games, whether that be vibrant graphics, unique bonus features or large progressive jackpots. For experienced players, the software used by a casino can help them decide whether that site is right for them. This is why we detail all the software providers used by different casinos in our carefully crafted reviews.
If you’re a beginner, you can use this guide to find out all about different developers and how casino gaming software works. Once you’re clued-in, head over to our curated list and browse and compare to find your perfect casino!
What makes a good casino software developer?
While different developers specialise in different areas, there’s a number of characteristics which can be seen across all respectable brands. Let’s check out what makes an online casino software developer worth your time:
We play casino games to have fun, and the best casino software providers produce games that are entertaining and enjoyable to play. One of the main ways developers achieve this is through the introduction of new features and game mechanics that keep their titles fresh and exciting.
Of course, the specifics of what constitutes good gameplay differs depending on the type of game. For example, large, multiline video slots should feature a range of exciting bonus features, such as scatters, wilds and multipliers. Classic slots, on the other hand, should feature more simplistic gameplay yet still be engaging enough for players to enjoy. All the top developers we’ve listed perfectly tailor their games to their target audiences to ensure they’re fun and engaging.
Great visuals can bring a game to life, and advances in technology have allowed software providers to create more impressive graphics than ever before.Clear, HD graphics and detailed designs are now a staple of many online casino games. The top video slot developers also employ vibrant 3D animations into their games, along with entertaining themes and amusing characters.
The brands we’ve listed also apply this commitment to top quality visuals to their table, roulette and video poker titles, ensuring games are as realistic and visually pleasing as possible. When it comes to live dealer games, the top developers use state-of-the-art cameras to broadcast HD streams from their specially built studios, creating a truly immersive gambling experience.
Engaging soundtracks can be just as important as visuals when it comes to enhancing your gaming experience. This means that software developers put a lot of effort into developing soundtracks perfectly suited to their games.
In video slots, crisp, lively sound effects add to the entertainment, while authentic arcade-style sounds in classic slots transport you to the casino. With table games, smooth background music creates a realistic atmosphere, whilst live dealer games rely on high quality audio in order to create as immersive an experience as possible.
Due to the competitiveness of the software development landscape, both newcomers and established brands constantly strive to create games with innovative, original and unique features. This applies to game mechanics, technologies, visuals, gameplay, bonus features and game variants.
One of the latest innovations in online casino software is the use of virtual reality (VR) technology. VR casino software is still in the early stages, but Microgaming has already developed a VR roulette game, while NetEnt has created a VR version of its slot, Gonzo’s Quest. Motion capture technology is also a current innovation in casino software. Yggdrasil is one of the first developers to use this in its 3D Sonya Blackjack game, which bridges the gap between animated and live dealer casino games.
While plenty of players enjoy casino games just for fun, many seek out games that offer the highest possible return. Things like the return to player (RTP) rate, house edge, payout tables and jackpots are set by the game developers, and the top software providers create games with respectable rates.
NetEnt have produced a particularly large collection of slots that have an RTP of 97% of over, including the likes of Mega Joker, Jackpot 6000 and Blood Suckers. Playtech also excel in this area, with Ugga Bugga, Goblin’s Cave and Ocean Princess all having incredibly RTPs of over 99%.
Exciting and original bonus features are a staple of top casino software providers. This is particularly true for slots, where developers are constantly coming up with exciting variations of bonus features such as wilds, multipliers, scatters, gamble rounds, free spins, money wheels and so on. This is great for casino players, as it keeps games interesting and means there’s more ways to potentially bank some winnings!
In addition to in-game bonuses, the top software providers partner with online casinos which offer great welcome and promotional offers to players. These include free spins, matched deposits and no deposit bonuses. There are usually promotions to celebrate the release of new slots, too. You can use our hand-picked list of the top UK casinos to browse the best bonuses on offer.
Variety is key to a good software provider, as it’s important to provide games that can be enjoyed by different kinds of bettors. When it comes to the biggest brands, the sheer number of games they’ve produced means players have plenty to choose from. The likes of Microgaming, NetEnt and Playtech have huge game libraries spanning all casino categories, so there’s lots of diversity. Developers that specialise in a certain area, such as Evolution, may not cover all gaming categories but do have lots of variety within their chosen field.
Understandably, new casino software providers have much smaller libraries, but the best still have a good mix to keep things fresh. For example, Yggdrasil and Playson have an assortment of high and low variance titles, from multi-line video slots with large potential prizes to more simple three-reel slots. Variety is the spice of life, after all!
In the past, casino software could be split into three categories – downloadable, instant play and mobile. These days, most online casinos have mobile-friendly websites, while developers are creating omni-channel software. This means that you can enjoy many casino games on mobiles and tablets, including iOS and Android, without compromising on quality.
The use of new technologies also means games have increased functionality and quicker loading times across all platforms. The top live dealer providers also tailor their software for mobile play, so there’s no restrictions on what games you can play on the go.
If you’re spending money gambling online then you want to be sure that the games you’re playing a fair, safe and secure. All reputable software providers are fully licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), and their games go through rigorous testing to ensure that they are fair and reliable. The use of random number generator (RNG) software also ensures that you aren’t at risk of rigged games.
Of course, whenever gambling online you should still ensure that you only play at UKGC licensed casinos. All the casinos we recommend are fully licensed and regulated, so you can rest assured in the knowledge that you’re playing at trustworthy and regulated sites.
A closer look at some software developers
The casino software development market is an extremely competitive one. While there’s a set of established brands who’ve set the benchmark, there’s also a collection of new up-and-coming developers bringing fresh ideas. Let’s take a look at the software developers you’re most likely to encounter when playing at online casinos:
Microgaming claims to be the first company to launch an online casino – way back in 1994. One of the biggest names in the industry, it has a rich heritage of producing well-loved slots and table games, including Thunderstruck, Life of Riches and Untamed Giant Panda. These are just a few of the hundreds of titles Microgaming has released, offering one of the largest collections of online casino games. Microgaming are also well known for their assortment of progressive slots. Mega Moolah is the most famous example, having once paid out a mind blowing £13 million top prize. Microgaming has won a number of prestigious awards, including Digital Product of the Year at the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Global Gaming Awards.
Net Entertainment (or NetEnt for short), formed in 1996, is a market leader and one of the best known names in casino software development. NetEnt is proudly responsible for some of the biggest slot titles, including Jack and The Beanstalk, Starburst and Gonzo’s Quest. Their games are broadly appealing and have generated a large fanbase for their quality, originality and respectable RTPs. This can be seen in the range of awards won by NetEnt, such as Best Casino Content Supplier at the EGR North America Awards 2018. Like Microgaming, NetEnt has also become known for its progressive jackpots games, such as Mega Fortune, which has made several lucky millionaires.
Rounding off the ‘big three’, Playtech is another huge software developer and winner of Platform of the Year at the 2018 EGR B2B Awards.Playtech covers all game categories and has produced a range of popular high paying slots, such as the progressive Age of the Gods. It is also renowned for its much-loved film and comic themed titles, including Gladiator and Superman. This is thanks to Playtech’s partnerships with the likes of Warner Bros. and DC Comics that give it exclusive rights to make these themed slots. Playtech is also well known for its live casino software. Fast, HD streams and a wide range of game variants have consolidated its position as one of the best in the business.
Evolution is unique in that it’s sole focus is on providing live casino software. It has become a world leader in this area, offering one of the most extensive collection of live dealer games on the market. Players can enjoy the likes of Live Dragon Tiger and Dream Catcher along with loads of variants of the traditional favourites, including progressive jackpot games. There’s also a unique multi-game feature which allows players to play up to four live games at once. Broadcast from specialist studios, Evolution’s titles are some of the most immersive games available online. The fact that they’ve won Live Casino Supplier of the Year at the EGR B2B awards for nine years in a row tells you all you need to know.
The history of IGT goes all the way back to the seventies; it was a major provider of land-based casino technologies before venturing into the online industry. IGT’s range of online classic slots, such as Triple Diamond, are inspired by its popular titles of the 70s and 80s. IGT has also produced many popular video slots, including Cleopatra, Monopoly and Wheel of Fortune. Slots such Siberian Storm feature the innovative Multiway Xtra feature, where wins are paid from right to left as well as left to right, opening up more potential ways to win. IGT also develops online lottery software, winning Lottery Product of the Year at the 2018 International Gaming Awards.
Like IGT, Novomatic initially made it’s name designing slot machines for land-based casinos, but has since branched out into developing online games. The focus has remained on slots, and Novomatic have created some of most iconic games in the online scene, such as Book of Ra and Dolphin’s Pearl. Their slots are particularly recognisable for their bold, colourful designs and exciting bonus features, such as the ‘gamble’ option which gives you the chance to double your winnings by betting on a bonus round. Winner of Casino Supplier of the Year at the 2018 Global Gaming Awards, Novomatic has also developed high quality table and live dealer games.
Play’n GO has gathered a devoted following primarily due to its exciting omni-channel slots, winning the coveted Slot Provider of the Year at the 2018 EGR B2B Awards. Omni-channel means that Play’n GO games can be enjoyed across a variety of devices, including mobiles and desktops. Play’n GO gained recognition for being among the first to develop this technology, focusing on creating high-quality Flash and HTML5 games that are compatible with handheld devices. It’s slots have become well loved for their vibrant and detailed graphics, extensive bonuses and plentiful free spin opportunities. Book of Dead, Rise of Olympus and Fire Joker are just a few of the most popular Play’n GO slots. As well as slots, Play’n GO also develops table games, video poker, scratch games and video bingo.
NextGen is one of the most respected developers on the scene and has several hundred games to its name. Best known for its slots, NextGen has produced many renowned titles including the likes of Merlin’s Magic, King Kong, The Mask and Foxin’ Wins Again. This developer places a lot of emphasis on the captivating artwork of its titles, as well as innovative gameplay. Nextgen’s ‘superbet’ feature is one such example of this, which allows players to alter in-game volatility and increase potential payouts. NextGen is part of SG Digital, which won Digital Industry Supplier of the Year at the 2018 Global Gaming Awards. NextGen itself has also won several awards, including RNG Casino Supplier of the Year at the 2013 eGaming Review B2B Awards.
Yggdrasil Gaming is a relative newcomer to the industry, having only set out in 2013. However, it’s already made waves with a number of beautifully designed and highly volatile slots. Vikings Go Berzerk, Sunny Shores and Jungle Books are some of their most popular titles. HD visuals, entertaining themes and smooth gameplay have become characteristic of Yggdrasil slots. Winner of Innovator Supplier of the Year at the 2018 International Gaming Awards, It’s also gained praise for its unique in-game features. One of these is the Fusion Realms mechanic, which allows players to jump between five different game modes, one for each of the slot’s five characters, opening up loads of different ways to win. You can try this out in Yggdrasil’s Jungle Books slot.
Playson are another brand that have only recently established themselves as big hitters in the online casino scene, having only been created in 2012. They’ve only produced around 50 titles to date, but have already garnered a respected reputation for their slot games. With a particular emphasis on cutting-edge design, HD graphics and animations, and omni-channel, mobile compatible software, Playtech is sure to continue its rapid rise. Popular slot titles include Viking Gods: Thor & Loki, Dracula’s Family and Fireworks Master.
Ready to try out different software?
Now that you know all about online casino software and the top providers, you probably want to try out some games! We’ve made it easy to find out which software is used by different online casinos. Simply pick out a casino from our list, click the ‘Expert Review’ link and from there you can find out all about the software and games on offer. What are you waiting for? Compare and sign up to start playing today!
What are some other casino gaming software developers?
The software developers we’ve picked out are some of the best in the industry, but there’s many other companies out there. Leander Games, Thunderkick, Quickspin and Blueprint Gaming are just a few examples of more respected, UKGC licensed casino software providers which are partnered with top UK casinos. You can to find out about the whole range of software used by different casinos by checking out our expert reviews.
Why do some casinos only use one software developer?
When it comes to the likes of NetEnt, Microgaming and Playtech, their game libraries are so extensive that casinos can fill all their categories without the need to partner with additional providers. Other sites may use different developers to provide a mix of games – it all depends on the casino.
How can I check if a software developer or casino is licensed?
Both software developers and online casinos will detail the licenses they hold at the bottom of the pages on their websites. In addition to that, you can search for licenses at the UKGC website.
How can I keep up to date with different casino software developers?
The best place to keep up with different developers is via their websites and social media profiles, particularly Twitter. This will allow you to keep track of the latest news and developments and find out about exciting new releases.
Do all software developers produce free versions of their games?
Yes. Most of the major developers do produce free demo versions of their games, and you’ll be able to try out free demos at most online casinos.This is great for getting a taste of a game and familiarising yourself with the rules before you jump in and start wagering real money.
Alan is a staff writer at TopRatedCasinos.co.uk. He covers all areas of the online casino industry, from the newest slot releases to the latest live dealer technology. Alan is also a fan of sports betting, and spends most of his spare time watching and reading about football.
Noel contributes his expertise on all areas of gambling, putting together TopRatedCasinos.co.uk’s online casino tips and gameplay guides. He’s also a huge football fan and keeps a close eye on the English Premier League and Championship.