Companies have been making slot machine games for well over one hundred years. Over that time, certain companies have garnered brand recognition because of their hit slots, ground-breaking features, and exploits in other business avenues.
What are the companies that have become most recognizable in the slot machine world?
You can find out below as I cover the 7 biggest slot machine manufacturers and what games they’re credited with bringing to the masses.
With offices stretching from Las Vegas to Rome, International Game Technology, or IGT, is widely regarded as the top slots producer in the world.
IGT launched in 1971 under the A 1 Distributing brand. By the 1980s, they made an impact in the slots industry by creating Megabucks, the first ever wide area progressive slot machine.
Megabucks continues to be immensely popular in land based casinos today, having awarded more progressive jackpot money than any other slot in history.
In 1996, IGT launched another legendary slot machine called Wheel of Fortune. Based on the long-running game show, Wheel of Fortune has paid out millions in jackpot money over the past few decades.
Due in large part to their acquisition of WagerWorks in 2005, IGT entered the online gaming space and has since turned out a number of online hits like Cleopatra, Coyote Moon, CSI: Slots, Family Guy, Ghostbusters, Jeopardy!, and Wolf Run.
But IGT continues to excel the most in the brick and mortar space, creating games like Avatar, Back to the Future, Breaking Bad, Bridesmaids, Dirty Dancing, Ellen, House of Cards, Judge Judy, Orange is the New Black, Sex & The City, Star Trek, TMZ, and The Hangover.
One more thing worth adding is that IGT was acquired by the Italian gaming company GTECH in 2014 for $6.4 billion. It’s been business as usual ever since, aside from the company being renamed IGT PLC.
Bally is perhaps the most innovative slots developer in the industry, which is strange accounting for the fact that their company was born with a completely different gameplan.
Launched in 1968 under the name Advanced Patent Technology, the company collected over 80 patents within its first 10 years. Two of their most interesting patents included an ultrasonic meat tenderizer and an ultrasonic fluidic fuel system for combustion engines.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that Advanced Patent Technology dipped a toe into the gaming industry and began producing slot machines. After a series of name changes and failed casinos, Bally made their mark by producing cutting edge slots technology that defines the company presently.
In 2010, Bally unveiled the U Spin feature, which allows players to spin a wheel during slots bonus rounds through a touchscreen. This development won Best Slot Product honors at the 2010 Gaming & Technology Awards.
Other Bally innovations include iREELS, which uses an LCD screen to create an intense 3D effect, and the iDECK, which allows you to control bonus round features with your hands.
Some of the notable slot machines produced by Bally include Betty Boop, Cash Spin, China River, Duck Dynasty, Grease, Hot Shot, Money Vault, Pawn Stars, Playboy, and Wild Huskies.
In 2014, Bally was purchased by Scientific Games for $5.1 billion and is now a subsidiary of the latter.
Amaya made news headlines in June 2014 when they announced a plan to buy PokerStars for $4.9 billion. This deal made Amaya the world’s largest publicly traded online gaming company just a decade after they launched in 2004.
Despite their close affiliation with online poker now, the Canadian company continues producing online and land based slots as well. A few of the land based slots have even been adopted into online versions.
Popular slot machines that Amaya has developed or acquired include Batman, Battle of Olympus, Captain Nemo, Cash Grab, Conan The Barbarian, Emerald Island, Forrest Gump, Green Lantern, Jade Idol, Jenga, King Kong, Millionaires Club, Rags to Riches, Street Fighter II, Superman: Last Son of Krypton, The Flash Velocity, and Vampires vs Werewolves.
Amaya has also been involved in business to business deals, pulling off several major transactions besides the PokerStars deal.
In 2015, Amaya sold Chartwell and Cryptologic to NYX Gaming for $110 million in cash and $40 million in NYX Digital shares. This move marked the company’s exit from the B2B space so that they can focus on their business to the consumer sector.
Launching back in 1994, Microgaming is a true pioneer in the online gaming world. They’re credited with developing the first ever online casino, Gaming Club, as well as over 600 online slots.
Aside from the sheer number of games they offer, Microgaming has become famous for awarding record breaking jackpots with their Mega Moolah game.
In January 2013, an anonymous Finnish man won a record online payout of €17,861,813 through Mega Moolah. But this was topped two years later when a British soldier named Jonathan Heywood won €17,879,645 in October 2015. That’s roughly $19 million apiece.
Other popular Microgaming slots besides Mega Moolah include Agent Jane Blonde, Avalon, BAR BAR Sheep, Battlestar Galactica, Cashapillar, Game of Thrones, Hellboy, Hitman, Immortal Romance, Jurassic Park, King Cashalot, Major Millions, Terminator 2, The Dark Knight Rises, Thunderstruck, and Tomb Raider.
Aristocrat Leisure Limited is the oldest company on this list, having produced their first slot machine in 1953. Aristocrat has since become one of the world’s largest slots manufacturers with games in over 200 licensing jurisdictions.
This Australian based company is best known for developing hundreds of land based slot machines. But as mentioned before, they signed a deal with Amaya to create online versions for their most popular slots.
Aristocrat continues to be a major player in the slots industry today, producing more modern games like Britney Spears, Dumb & Dumber, Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy, The Big Bang Theory, The Sopranos, and The Walking Dead.
Konami is far from the biggest slot machine manufacturer on this list. But they’re definitely one of the most famous due to their success in the arcade and video game industries.
Launching as a repair and jukebox rental business in 1969, this Japanese company began developing arcade games in the 1970s. Konami achieved great success in the 80s with hit games like Frogger, Scramble, and Super Cobra.
They saw more success in the console gaming market with NES/Famicom releases like Castlevania, Contra, and Metal Gear, all of which have spawned sequels and been adapted to later consoles.
In 2005, Konami opened an office in suburban Las Vegas, which marked their move into casino gaming. They’ve since opened an office in Australia too because of the heavy interest in gambling there.
Some of the slot machines that Konami has produced for both online and brick and mortar casinos include African Diamond, African Treasure, Ancient Dragon, China Shores, Full Moon Diamond, and Treasure Voyage.
A subsidiary of the Williams Manufacturing Company, which launched in 1943, WMS Gaming gained notoriety for producing arcade and pinball games in the 1970s and 80s.
Both industries began declining in the 90s, though, leading WMS Gaming to focus on slot machines. And the Chicago based company quickly made its mark in 1996 by introducing multi line and multi coin secondary payouts through Reel ’em In.
These two innovations helped accelerate a slots industry that had previously relied on simple themes and payout structures.
Some of WMS’ notable slot machines include Amazon Queen, Bruce Lee, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Giant’s Gold, King of Africa, Kronos, Reel ’em In, Star Trek: Red Alert, Wizard of Oz, and Zeus.
IGT PLC, Bally, and Aristocrat are a few of the giants that have shaped the slots industry. These companies have developed hundreds of slot machines that can be found in casinos around the world.
But as Microgaming has proven, you don’t need to have a brick and mortar presence to be an industry heavyweight. Microgaming supplies slots to dozens of real money online casinos and has paid out the largest online jackpots in history.
Some of the new players in the industry like Amaya, Konami, and WMS have already made impacts as well.
You have WMS to thank for more complex slots due to the multi-coin payouts and secondary bonus features that they introduced.
Despite launching in 2014, Amaya has already become the world’s biggest online gaming company. It’ll be interesting to see what lies in their future after expanding so rapidly.
Konami is a newer slots company, but based on their long history of success with video games I expect them to continue doing well with slots.
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