When online casinos first appeared in the last years of the 20th century, the games were almost archaic by modern standards. There were no live dealer games – the bandwidth and technology to support those types of advanced experiences were still a long way off – and the limited library of online slots were either direct ports of existing land-based casino games or very cheaply made slots that had been thrown together just to bulk out the listings of the unlicensed and unregulated casinos that had recently sprung up on the internet.
Things have come a long way since then; online slot machines are as good as those you can find at a land-based casino, and the recent switch from Flash to HTML5 has forced every developer to modernize their games to a very high standard. Today, we’ll talk about some of the steps that have been taken as the online casinos have gone mainstream and suggest a couple of ways that these sites might continue to progress during the next few years. We hope you enjoy it!
The very first online casino games were developed by two companies: CryptoLogic and Microgaming. Whilst Microgaming is still around and continues to expand and push boundaries with each passing year, things went a little differently over at CryptoLogic. The company still exists, but it has been acquired and sold multiple times during its glory days of operating some of the first online casinos. As far as I can tell, they are still involved in creating some casino games, but they certainly don’t exist in the same way they did in 1999.
We started to see many more software houses begin to create online casino games during the first decade of the 21st century, and the trickle has truly turned into a flood during the past few years. Even companies better known for creating video games, such as Japanese giant Konami, have begun to create these types of games in the last few years, and this has led to the appearance of much more complex slots and games.
There has also been a dramatic increase in other types of websites dedicated to online casino gaming; If you want to play the latest slots in free play mode before spending real money, the biggest and most detailed library of reviews and demos, including those from Pragmatic Play can be found over at demo slot pragmatic play. We mention Pragmatic Play specifically as they are currently pushing out three very high-quality new games every month, emphasizing research and development into their customers (the casinos) and their player’s feedback.
The Switch to HTML5
When Google announced that they would be dropping support for Adobe’s Flash technology in their Chrome web browser, online slot developers had no choice but to scramble and update all their games to work using the newer HTML5 technology. This included all live casino and table games and was a massive undertaking for older companies such as Microgaming, with catalogs of hundreds of online slots and games.
Many developers used the opportunity to upgrade their games in some way; Playtech changed up the layout of the reels in some of their most popular games, increasing the RTP to match what has become almost a standard in the online slots industry: 96%. Microgaming upgraded their games to use vector-based graphics rather than bitmaps, which makes games look great regardless of the screen size they are being played on. Pragmatic Play added greater language support to some of their older games which did not support the full 31 languages that their more recent slots did.
Whilst some players felt that their favorite games were paying out less than they had previously, the industry’s response was mostly positive after the change. HTML5-based games run better on older, less powerful hardware, and even players with high-powered devices have benefited significantly due to the buggy Adobe Flash software no longer being supported in their browsers. It’s quite the mystery how Flash ended up being so buggy despite being on the market for more than a decade, but you must admire the determination of companies such as Google, who pushed for its complete removal from the web rather than enduring another decade or two of patches and bug fixes.
The Future of Online Casino Gaming
One of the largest growth areas for online casino games during the past decade has been in live casino games, and I expect we will continue to see a lot of development in this area during the next few years. The casinos seem intent on producing a kind of “virtual reality” online experience for players, and whilst we are yet to see any real-money online casino offer such an experience to their players, it seems like it is only a matter of time.
The prospects for that development are exciting to some players, but not everybody is convinced. The idea of being able to walk around a casino in virtual reality and sit down and your favorite machine to play sounds great, but it’s arguable how much it will add to the entertainment value overall. It’s a little bit different regarding table games, some of which already allow players seated at a land-based casino to play games at the same table as their online customers.
Over the past few years, we have seen many more complex online slots from companies such as Wazdan, Konami, and Nolimit City. Some companies are adding storylines to their slots, while others are simply bulking out the number of special features and bonus rounds in their games. On the other hand, some developers have also resented classic three-reel games, perhaps hoping to attract customs from players who aren’t interested in this new breed of complicated, story-driven experiences.
Predicting the future is always difficult, but whichever direction the industry takes over the next few years, it will be the players who decide by choosing where they spend their money. It’s going to be interesting to watch how things play out!