Jump back 20 years and the name Playtech was what Lewis Hamilton was to racing, the legend and the apex predator in the industry. Unstoppable, unbeatable and everyone’s aspiration, almost all online casinos and gaming providers would license Playtech’s games and slots package to ensure that they had a fighting change of luring the biggest players around the world into their casino.
So in 2018, when founder and multi-millionaire Teddy Sagi sold his shares in Playtech, citing that he had fulfilled his role in making it one of the most well-known brands in gaming history, gamblers looked to Playtech to see what they were going to do next to close an ever-increasing gap between them and major industry competitors like NetEnt or Evolution Gaming. Rewind just a decade and Playtech invested heavily in their table and slot games to continuously try and sign up huge blockbuster names like Marvel and DC Comics to their portfolio, but whilst they were busy looking at just one part of the picture, they were rapidly overtaken by new companies looking to market what has become one of the most lucrative and favoured platforms by new and existing players alike – Live Casinos. But why did a company with such deep pockets and development skills miss the boat? The answer isn’t so hard to see…
NetEnt are undoubtedly one of the leading names in the industry as of now. Also formed in the 90’s (1996 to be exact), they have fast become one of the leading live casino and slot developers in the gaming world. While Playtech were busy cornering the market with their 5-reel and 3-reel branded slot games, NetEnt focussed on exploding symbols, advanced graphics and 3D slot entertainment to distinguish themselves from the ‘normal’ that existed before. If Playtech had been adept enough to switch their attention to these types of slot machines just a few years earlier – there was a good chance that the Israeli-firm could have demolished NetEnt before they got as big as they did.
Big Time Gaming may be just a fraction of the size of some of the other industry players, but in terms of their functionality and usability in the slots industry – they are by far one of the best. Alongside releasing some of their own games for casinos to lease, they have designed a ‘Megaways’ system that plugs into almost any slot machine they want. This enables the standard ‘payline/winline’ combos that players have grown tired of, to diversify into a 100,000+ line monster with different bonus rounds, pay structures and more. While it can be argued that Teddy Sagi and his Playtech behemoth couldn’t really have pre-planned this success, their lack of versatility in sticking with just the ‘standard’ formats has certainly left them falling short of their optimal market performance strategy.
Evolution Gaming is perhaps the baby of the group. Founded in 2006, a decade after NetEnt, their success is reminiscent of Playtech’s rise to power. Regularly posting huge profit margins and releasing a stream of recognisable branded games such as Monopoly Live and Mega Ball – it has been their latest claim to fame that has truly put them up there with the big boys. Their most recent addition being the big wheel money game Crazy Time that is the most expensive casino game created and features 4 unique bonus rounds, a ton of multipliers and plays out in the form of a game show. This level of innovation and their marketing prowess has fast-tracked them to become Playtech’s biggest Live Casino rival and unfortunately Evolution Gaming is continuing to pip them. The departure of Teddy Sagi might have hurt Playtech, but it will be this firm that has caused the real pain.
So now we have reached 2020, and as the largest Israeli software provider in gambling looks to reinvent itself throughout a period of change in the world, we hope that they pay attention to the trends in gambling and gamblers – at least to recognise that the days of domination by having the best developers and biggest pockets are long gone – now it is about creativity and staying ahead of the curve … let’s just hope they can get on board quickly.