Microgaming is one of the big names in the online gambling industry. The company's full name is Microgaming Software Systems, Ltd. They operate from a headquarters in the Isle of Man.
Microgaming is arguably responsible for the world's first online casino, GamingClub, which officially launched in 1994. Now in their third decade of operation, Microgaming is one of the world's top gaming software developers. The company is now active in all forms of online casino software, including slots, table games, live games, and multi-player applications. Microgaming was a pioneer in the emerging mobile gaming market. They operate a popular poker network, maintain dozens of online bingo sites, and are now launching games for the land-based market.
The company maintains a library of 800 casino games, as well as another 400 variants, for a grand total of 1,200 titles. Microgaming's slots and other games include both licensed and fully-proprietary content. The company is famous for releasing new variants and slot titles on a weekly basis.
The History of Microgaming
Microgaming launched the GamingClub online casino in late 1994. At this time, the company operated the casino themselves, not totally sure what sort of product they had on their hands. It must have been a confusing time – imagine wondering if there was an audience for Internet-based betting? It didn't take long for Microgaming's founders to decide that they weren't interested in the operation side of the casino business.
Instead, they chose to focus on the development of casino games, earning money by selling licenses for their games to other online casinos. By the year 1996, Microgaming had two licensees operating online casinos, accepting wagers from players all over the world. 1996 was a big year for the company, as they increased their license holdings tenfold in the course of ten months. Within a year, Microgaming had earned the reputation as a leading provider of casino software for online gambling businesses – a reputation they hold to this day.
All that early success was the driving force behind Microgaming's decision to join with other names in the burgeoning industry to create the Interactive Gaming Council in 1997. The IGC, which still exists today, was created to ensure customers that gambling websites were behaving fairly and responsibly. The idea is simple – if your site is a member of the IGC, your customers can engage with you with confidence, since membership in the IGC is a sign of fairness.
Hot on the heels of their successful IGC initiative, and a fury of new license sales, the company launched the world's first online progressive slot game in 1998. Called Cash Splash, the progressive game is still part of their library, though in a more modernized version with a new pay table and a few new features. This game operated with a networked progressive jackpot, just like progressive slots which were fast becoming the most popular such games in Vegas. That same year, Microgaming was the first online casino game designer to offer instant-play games as well as a download package. These two innovations alone have had an indelible impact on the gambling business.
The online gambling phenomenon didn't get going well until the year 2000 – within a year of the new millennium, Microgaming had become a major player in international markets, as well as ones in Europe and America. They were the first online casino software provider to offer multi-language support. This increased their market share dramatically.
The last major shakeup of the company's software came in 2003, when the Viper version of their software was released. This software added a number of new features that are now common to online casino gambling, such as Windows-style tile display, live dealer functionality, and a few backend features that made the games run faster with less chance of glitch or lag. In the same year, Microgaming launched the first version of their top-ten poker network, now known as MPN.
One of the ways the company has stayed relevant over the past twenty years or so is their ability to quickly produce new games. You'll notice when you read back over the company's history that they constantly took risks, and those risks have pretty much always paid off. Yes, Microgaming is a popular provider of slot games, but they managed to innovate in other areas as well. For example, the whole live dealer concept wouldn't exist without Microgaming – and that has nothing at all to do with slot machines.
Recent innovations include the release (in 2011) of a new suite of mobile casino software, making the games more attractive and presenting them in a number of interesting variations. That same year, the company produced the world's first 3D Web-based slot machine game.
The company has won numerous awards, from diverse industry watchdogs like Casinomeister and Casino Player Magazine. They've matched two decades of innovation with even more innovation. They continue to sell licensing deals, create exciting proprietary content, and please their customer base with regular new game releases. Yes, they face a stiff increase in the amount of competition coming from new designers and difficult markets, but they've always managed to keep pace in an industry that doesn't take kindly to failure. Maybe the management team's commitment to fitness and athletics is responsible for this "can't-lose" spirit.
Microgaming software power some of the most popular names in online casino and poker play – 270 casinos run on a Microgaming platform, as well as 40 poker rooms and skins. Here are some of the better-known names that use Microgaming's suite of casino software.
Microgaming ManagementRoger Raatgever, CEO
Roger Raatgever earn his accountant's charter in his native South Africa after studying a double emphasis in marketing and economics. Raatgever was key in Microgaming's plan to establish headquarters on the Isle of Man, which he accomplished in the year 2001. At the time, he was a senior analyst for Microgaming in franchising and banking. Soon after the successful relocation to the Isle of Man, he took over the helm of the company. Raatgever has the honor of being the longest-serving CEO in the online gambling business. He's also an accomplished athlete, a semi-pro caliber water polo, squash and rugby player. Roger recently competed in the triathlon, taking home a bronze medal for the Isle of Man at the 2013 Island Games. His passion for fitness is reflected by the entire management staff surrounding him.John Coleman
John Coleman joined the Microgaming team in 2004, having worked for years as a chartered accountant. Coleman's duties include the general operation of Microgaming itself. Like his boss, Coleman is a passionate athlete, competing in cycling races and twice finishing the New York Marathon. From quotes in press releases and on the corporate website, it's clear that Coleman is Raatgever's right-hand man and closest advisor, besides being responsible for the general operation of the company.Chris Hobbs
Chis Hobbs' backgrounds are in both banking and chemistry. It's an odd combination, but one that seems to work for Microgaming – he's been on the job since 2005. He got into management after taking a job with a chemical manufacturer in South Africa. He was hired as a low-level accounts manager in 2000, working his way up to management in 2005. Hobbs' main duty is to ensure total compliance with all jurisdictional laws – a complex job in the world of online gambling. Hobbs is also a representative member on the boards of industry groups, speaking up for Microgaming's interests and the interests of its customers.Andrew Clucas
Andrew Clucas served in the Royal Air Force for two decades before accepting a position at Microgaming in 2009. Clucas was awarded an MBE in 2005, having earned his final promotion to wing commander the same year. Clucas has been a chartered accountant since 2006, working his way up the ranks at Microgaming as a manager and eventual department head. These days, he manages every aspect of the sales and marketing departments of the company.Neill Whyte
Head of Product Channels Another long-term member of the executive staff, Neill Whyte joined the team in 2006. His backgrounds are in business, economics, management, telecommunications, and software development – a perfect skill set to assist a growing online game design company. Whyte was promoted to his most recent position for his work in Microgaming's mobile development, where he created several innovative systems still in use today. Another of Microgaming's many top-notch athletes, Whyte has competed in three Ironman event, and finished the Marathon des Sables.
Microgaming Slot Games
Microgaming has 344 slot games in their library. About three-quarters of their slot collection is made up of video slot games, in different line arrangements, between five and ninety-nine. The rest are either progressives or classic-style slots with either one, three, or five pay lines.
Below, you'll find short reviews of twenty-four of Microgaming's most-popular slots. We wanted to show off the company's entire range of games, so we've reviewed titles from each of the company's five slot categories.
Bar Bar Black Sheep is a real throwback, styled after the classic single line games of yesterday. This game has three reels of symbols, most of which are traditional slot symbols. You can wager one, two, or three coins on each spin, with credits worth $0.25, $0.50, $1, or $5. This game includes a feature that isn't common to classic one-line games - a wild multiplier symbol. The game's logo (the Black Sheep himself) substitutes for all other symbols to form winning combos. Spinning one or two Black Sheep symbols also triples the payout of any combination it completes, except the Bar-Bar-Black Sheep combination that leads to the game's highest payout.Cops and Robbers
Cops and Robbers is technically an AWP-style game. AWP stands for Amusement with Prize. That means it's designed in the style of classic UK-style gaming machines found in pubs and restaurants. It's a simple-looking game with a single pay line, accepting wagers of one, two, or three credits. But this game includes a special nudge/hold feature and a bonus round. The bonus round is triggered by spinning three Money Bag symbols – during the game, you attempt to escape the cops by spinning winning combos, which earn random multipliers. Cops and Robbers offers credits in the classic Microgaming range - $0.25, $0.50, $1, $2, and $5, for a total betting range of $0.25 up to $15 per spin.Jet Set
Jet Set represents another attempt on the part of Microgaming to produce a classic-style one-pay line slot game with improved replay value. The game itself is really simple – the only symbol used outside of the traditional fruit, numbers, and bars is the game's Jet Set logo itself, a beautiful yacht emblazoned with three Lucky 7's. This symbol acts as a wild, multiplier, and bonus trigger symbol. A single Jet Set symbol on the line will act as any symbol to complete a win, and multiply the win by 2x. Two such symbols pays out a 4x reward. Spinning all three symbols in a row triggers a bonus game that awards both free credits and free spins.Jungle 7's
The 15,000 coin top jackpot on Jungle 7's have made this single-line classic game one of Microgaming's top titles. The credit and wagering options are identical to the company's other classic slots – wagers of between one and three credits are allowed, and those credits can be worth $0.25, $0.50, $1, $2, or $5 each for a total betting range of between $0.25 and $15 per spin. That huge top prize pays out when three special Aztec Wheel symbols appear on the line. But spinning one or two of these symbols is also good – one symbol triggers a 2x multipliers, while two symbols triggers a 4x multiplier. Jungle 7's has a vague jungle theme, though you don't have to pay much attention to the game, as there's not any sort of plot. It remains popular mainly because (ostensibly) you have a shot at winning almost $4,000 on a wager of less than a dollar.SWAT Team
SWAT Team represents another attempt on the part of Microgaming to produce a classic-style one-pay line slot game with improved replay value. The game itself is really simple – the only symbol used outside of the traditional fruit, numbers, and bars is the game's SWAT Team logo itself, a beautiful yacht emblazoned with three Lucky 7's. This symbol acts as a wild, multiplier, and bonus trigger symbol. A single SWAT Team symbol on the line will act as any symbol to complete a win, and multiply the win by 2x. Two such symbols pays out a 4x reward. Spinning all three symbols in a row triggers a bonus game that awards both free credits and free spins.Free Spirit
The theme of Free Spirit is the beautiful wild horse. The game is among Microgaming's most stripped-down classic slots, though newer versions include a special Wheel of Wealth bonus game that turns Free Spirit into something with a bit more replay value. The game's top prize is 5,000 credits, paid in exchange for spinning three of the game's Free Spirit logo symbols. No multiplier or scatter symbol exists, though the newer versions with Wheel of Wealth include a kind of multiplier bonus round. This bonus round rewards free credits and free spins randomly.
Fruit Fiesta is a classic fruit machine style game, a simple game with five reels and three pay lines. It was a classic from the earliest days of its development, and has spawned a couple of variants, a video slot and a larger game with a progressive top prize. This three pay line version includes a bonus round that rewards free spins, randomly, between one and five. The bonus game is triggered by a special symbol, the game's second most-valuable. The graphics are like a modern update to old-school slot designs, featuring fruit symbols and other classic slot images. Fruit Fiesta's top prize is 3,000 coins, for a payout between $750 and $15,000.Jewel Thief
The simple three reel and three pay line arrangement of Jewel Thief pays homage to classic game design while adding extra pay lines to increase complexity and the range of available payouts. This game accepts bets of up to five credits on each of three lines, for a max bet of fifteen coins per spin. Jewel Thief, like most of Microgaming's three line games, can adapt to a number of different bankrolls. Coins can be worth $0.25, $0.50, $1, $2, or $5 apiece. That makes max bets available between $1.25 and $75.Spooky Mansion
Spooky Mansion's theme is the classic haunted house, complete with symbols of ghosts, goblins, and things that go bump in the night. This five reel and three pay line game accepts max bets of five credits per line in the classic Microgaming $0.25 - $5 arrangement. It's a typical three line game in Microgaming's library, designed to be attractive to players with a variety of bankroll sizes. This game includes a wild/multiplier symbol, the Spooky Mansion logo, which multiplies all wins (except the top prize) by either 2x or 4x, depending on how many you spin.MegaSpin Progressive
Single-pay line progressive slots are not common. MegaSpin is just such a game, an early progressive from Microgaming that's still available at some casinos that run their software. The game includes a wild symbol – a multi-colored star that substitutes for all other symbols to form winning combos. This game is a bit different from other three line titles from Microgaming, in that the progressive wins are triggered by symbols on a wheel of symbols that operates separately from the main set of symbols. It's a bit complex, but after you watch a spin or two you'll understand. You'll spend the exact same amount on this game as on any of Microgaming's three line games – the credits range from $0.25 to $5, and you have to bet three credits per spin to be eligible for the top prize, a total of $15 per spin.Sizzling Scorpions
Slots don't get much more basic than Sizzling Scorpions. This is a game without any video scenes or animations, and not much in the way of sound effects. Thus, no plot, no "story" to tell. The game has three pay lines, three reels, and accepts wagers of one, two, or three credits per line at a fixed price of $0.50 each. That makes a total wagering range of between $0.50 and $4.50 per spin. Curiously, Sizzling Scorpions includes a simple bonus symbol. When you spin three of the game's logo symbol on any active line, you earn a random number of free spins. Sizzling Scorpions is on the simple side, but plenty of slot gamblers like classic titles, and that's exactly what you get here.Spell Bound
Spell Bound is a three reel slot with three pay lines. It's stuffed with features – especially compared to the other sometimes feature-less three line slots produced by Microgaming. Spell Bound includes a wild, a multiplier, and a bonus round. The theme (if you can call it that) revolves around what the rest of the Internet calls a "red-haired Enchantress," but I'd just call her a beautiful witch. If you spin three of her symbols on an active line, you win the game's top prize of 6,000 credits. Since Spell Bound operates on the typical $0.50-$5 arrangement of Microgaming's classic slots, that's a top prize worth up to $30,000.
Break Da Bank is one of Microgaming's better-known titles, in part because it's been part of their lineup for so long. This is a five pay line game with three reels, a rarity in the world of online game design. Players can wager up to ten credits per line, for a max wager of fifty credits. Since the game only accepts wagers of $0.05, $0.10, or $0.25 per credit, a max bet can be had for between $2.50 and $12.50 per spin.Captain Cash
Captain Cash is one of Microgaming's high-end five pay line games, with a costly max bet that rules out all but the fattest online bankrolls. Players can wager up to five credits per line, for a twenty-five credit maximum bet. Since credits can be worth between $0.50 and $5 per credit, the total maximum bet range is between $12.50 and $125 per spin. That said, it is also a simple game, with three reels and five pay lines, so players should expect even more low-level payouts than they may usually find on a high roller online slot game. There's not much in the way of a theme – just a chase for big jackpots.Happy New Year
Happy New Year is something of an antique. This game was part of Microgaming's earliest licensed libraries in the late 1990s. Though the version you find now has been updated a few times, it's still pretty much the same game. For some reason, people have always been attracted to slots based on holidays. It's a theme you'll find on the gambling floor and at online casinos. This particular slot has nothing to do with the New Year except its name and the use of a couple of party hat symbols. The game's logo is a wild multiplier which rewards a 2x or 4x win on an active line. Happy New Year has three reels, five pay lines, and accepts bets of up to five coins per line. Those coins can be worth between $0.50 and $5, so that max wagers range from $12.50 and $125 per spin.Spin Magic
Spin Magic is a typical Microgaming five pay line title. Spin Magic is designed in imitation of classic UK fruit machines. The symbols in the game include the standard cherries, grapes, and lemons, but the game is topped by a special spinning wheel that alters game play and pay outs. Spin Magic has its own spinning-wheel bonus game, which rewards a multiplier between 2x and 5x. The spinning game is triggered by landing three of the logo symbols on an active line. Unlike most other Microgaming five pay line titles, credit size is limited to either $0.05, $0.10, $0.25, or $0.50. The max wager is two coins per line, or ten total coins. That means max wagers range from $0.50 to $5, making it an ideal game for low bankroll players looking to step up their game and take a bigger risk. After all, the jackpot is 8,000 coins, which could be worth $4,000 on a wager of just $5.Cool Buck
Cool Buck is a disappointing five line slot release by Microgaming, and a good example of what the company does wrong. Cool Buck is pretty much identical to every other bland five line release, with a different image on the front. The top prize is 6,000 credits, the same top prize as the vast majority of the company's classic slot games. The machine accepts coin sizes between $0.50 and $5. Players can wager up to five coins on each of five lines – these are all features common to just about any Microgaming title you can think of. What's worse, Cool Buck has no gimmick of its own. I could think of no reason to play Cool Buck instead of any other game on this list, except for maybe a general preference for the color green. When Microgaming releases skins of existing titles, they just look lazy. Cool Buck is a lazily-designed slot game.Flying Ace
Flying Ace is a decent little game, a five pay line video slot that puts you in the cockpit of a world-class fighter plane. Don't let the simple three reel arrangement fool you, this is a fun little game, with a wild multiplier symbol, a cut screen bonus game, and fun sound effects and animations to keep you in the game. Microgaming crammed as much red, white, and blue as they could into this game, and for good reason. Americans like playing patriotic games. It's a fun five line slot, though it doesn't do much in terms of varying the traditional pay line setup, down to the 6,000 credit top jackpot.
Cash Splash is an historic slot game – the first-ever networked progressive game designed exclusively for play online. Originally released in 1998, the game has had two major facelifts over the past couple of decades, and is still as exciting a modern progressive slot as any the company produces. This is a five reel game with fifteen pay lines. The credit size is fixed at $0.20, and the progressive jackpot is only available on max bet spins, so you have to wager $3 per spin for a shot at the ever-increasing top prize. The top prize refreshes at just $5,000, which is low compared to other modern progressives. The largest-ever win was about $105,000, though the average jackpot is around $26,000.King Cashalot
King Cashalot is a more recent Microgaming release in the progressive category. Its top prize is considerably larger than on the classic Cash Splash – the average winner claims $550,000. The largest-ever prize was good for a jackpot of just over $1.5 million. This is a five-reel game with nine available pay lines. To be eligible for the top prize, you have to wager five credits on all nine lines, at a fixed price of $0.05 per credit. That means for $2.25 per spin, you can take a crack at a progressive jackpot that tends to pay out six figures at a time. Not only is King Cashalot more lucrative than Microgaming's classic Cash Splash, it's less expensive.Mega Moolah Series
The Mega Moolah Series is not one game but a series of four games, all of which have the Mega Moolah progressive prize system as one of their features. All four of the games are great – but what we like is the Mega Moolah series itself. It's definitely Microgaming's flagship progressive game, and some would consider it the company's flagship slot. The four-tiered progressive prize system is based on total random chance – you never know when you'll suddenly win one of four ever-larger progressive jackpots. Mega Moolah was responsible for the largest-ever Microgaming jackpot, a prize equivalent to $18.6 million won by a British man playing at Betway Casino. This game's average win is around $4.5 million, and it pays out around every three months.Treasure Nile
Yet another five reel progressive slot with nine pay lines by Microgaming. We love the jackpot and overall game variety available in this category, but would it kill them to create some progressives with different line and reel arrangements? Treasure Nile seems to pay off every two weeks like clockwork, though it's not one of Microgaming's more lucrative progressive prizes. The average win is $90,000, with an historic high of $360,000. When you play Treasure Nile (which features symbols of mummies, scarabs, and other trappings of ancient Egypt), you're only eligible for the progressive grand prize if you wager five credits on all nine lines, for a total of 45 per spin. At a fixed value of $0.50 per credit, Treasure Nile is one of the more costly Microgaming progressive slots. You have to bet $22.50 per spin to be eligible for the progressive payout.Major Millions
This military-themed progressive slot is one of the better-looking and more functional of Microgaming's new titles. In the video slot version, you play as a new recruit, avoiding the unfriendly gaze of a training officer. Major Millions pays out big prizes – the average win is north of $500,000. The largest-ever payday won on this game was $1.8 million, claimed in 2012 at All Slots. Major Millions pays an average of five top prizes per year.Fruit Fiesta
Fruit Fiesta is one of Microgaming's low-level progressive games. It has the least valuable top prize of any game on this short list. That's not to say that any of us would turn our noses at the average prize of $23,160. Besides, in 2013, a British player won $101,000 on Fruit Fiesta. That's really nothing to sneeze at. We also like the game's payout regularity – it looks like a jackpot is paid out every fifteen or sixteen days, going back four or five years. Fruit Fiesta is a pretty simple game, in which you have to spin five special symbols while wagering five credits on all fifteen lines. Since the credit price is fixed at $0.05, players must wager $3.25 per spin to chase that progressive jackpot.
Microgaming Slots: A Summary
We've reviewed dozens of online slot software providers. We like Microgaming, for a few reasons. When you do business with a company that's been in an industry since its outset, you're guaranteed a certain level of customer service. We like the not-so-serious tone of their game designs, even if sometimes they venture a bit too far into "cartoon-y" territory. We like their website, which offers lots of useful information for writers and researchers trying to get a handle on their company. We just like them, all around.
Microgaming is a conscientious operator, having been obsessed with security, encryption, and the safety of their customer's data since the earliest days of online gambling. All Microgaming licensees are required to maintain the same kind of high-level security standards that the company itself operates under. This is one of the reasons why we love this company – not only have they been offering online gambling longer than anyone else, they've been doing it with an eye to security.
Another major appealing feature of Microgaming casino software is its variety. A library of 1,200 titles available at hundreds of casino and poker room websites means you won't have to settle for a limited collection of boring repetitive titles. Okay, so a few hundred of those titles are just variations on other games. Still, Microgaming's commitment to releasing new titles every week means people who play at the casinos that run their games have access to a lot more game titles than customers at other properties.
Microgaming is more than just one of the world's major players in online game design. They're also a player in the mobile market, a name in online poker, providers of bingo and skill games, and now the designer of titles that appear in land-based casinos as well. This company of some 2,000 employees is working hard to maintain their industry dominance by producing new innovations as well as games that satisfy the tastes of classic slot fans. Microgaming's twenty- years of success will probably be matched by another two decades of profitable experimentation.