The Rise and Fall of Playtech

By in Slots on
6 Minute Read

Playtech is one of the most-successful developers in online gaming history. It has produced a number of hit slots, such as Beach Life, Gladiator, and The Dark Knight.

That said, Playtech seems like a major success story. However, it doesn’t have quite the same impact on gaming that it did in years past.

In fact, you could say that Playtech is on the decline lately. This game provider simply doesn’t stand in the limelight like it did a decade ago. That said, I’m going to discuss Playtech’s rise to the top, their decline, and where are they sit today.

What Is Playtech Known For?

Playtech has produced some of the biggest slots hits in internet gambling history. They were perhaps best known for their line of Marvel slots (more on how this fell apart later).

Marvel Studios has created the most-successful film franchise in cinema history. Playtech struck at just the right time, when these famous comic-book stories began enjoying unparalleled success in theaters.

Its first hit Marvel slot, Iron Man, was released in 2008, not long after the film dropped in theaters. This developer made several popular related slots afterward.

Playtech’s prowess goes beyond just their Marvel-inspired games, though. They’ve also produced plenty of other hits, including the following:

  • Age of Gods (series)
  • Beach Life
  • Gladiator
  • Jackpot Giant
  • Justice League
  • King Kong
  • Kingdoms Rise (series)
  • Cashback
  • Rocky
  • Superman
  • The Dark Knight
  • The Matrix
  • The Mummy
  • The X Files
  • Top Gun
  • White King
  • Wild West Wilds
  • Wonders Woman

Some of these Playtech slots feature huge progressive jackpots. Jackpot Giant, for example, boasts a $5,270,936 top prize at the time of this writing. It’s also paid out as much as $12,305,243 in its history.

Playtech also runs a live dealer gaming outfit. They offer plenty of live casino games, like baccarat, blackjack, casino hold’em, European roulette, Speed Roulette, and Ultimate Blackjack.

Playtech’s Rise to the Top of Gaming

Cypriot-Israeli businessman Teddy Sagi launched Playtech in 1999 from Tartu, Estonia. The company spent its first two years developing software and games before releasing their first products in 2001.

It didn’t take this game provider long to experience success. They quickly started landing major clients after just a few years in business.

Playtech wasn’t the first software developer out of the gate. However, they were still one of the earlier companies to serve the online gaming industry.

They were also one of the best providers available at the time. That said, Playtech used a combination of their early mover advantage and quality games to rise to the top.

Of course, they had a few major arrivals at the time. Microgaming, NetEnt, and Realtime Gaming all provided serious competition (and still do). But Playtech was also in the mix and could’ve made a claim to be the best years ago.

Encouraged by the success of his company, Sagi took Playtech public in 2006. The company was floated on the AIM stock market with a valuation of $950 million.

UIGEA Delivers the First Blow

The euphoria over Playtech’s successful market float was short-lived. The United States government put a huge dent in their business by passing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in October 2006.

Like other game providers at the time, Playtech made most of his money from the US market. They weren’t necessarily doing anything illegal by serving Americans either. After all, the US didn’t have anti-online gambling laws in place.

The UIGEA doesn’t even outlaw internet gaming on a federal level. It merely reinforces that operators shouldn’t serve states that have banned online gambling (e.g. Washington).

The UIGEA’s biggest historical impact involves convincing reputable banks and payment processors to stop working with gambling sites. As a result, companies like Playtech have exited the US market after failing to find reliable payment processors.

Following the passage of the UIGEA, Playtech’s stock suffered a one-day fall of over 40%. But this drop didn’t spell the end for them.

Instead, Playtech refocused their efforts on Europeans countries without any internet gambling restrictions in place. Nevertheless, it would take them quite a while to regain the same prominence they had when serving Americans.

Marvel and Playtech Part Ways

Playtech and Marvel Studios had a solid relationship for several years. The two sides enjoyed great synergy on Marvel-based slots.

This status quo continued even after Disney purchased Marvel Studios for $4 billion in 2009. Disney initially felt comfortable being associated with an online gambling company.

However, they changed their tune in 2017. The California-based entertainment giant distanced themselves from the gambling world at this point.

The Playtech/Marvel collaboration was a casualty of this decision. Playtech removed Marvel slots from their collection. They also informed their casino and affiliate partners to stop advertising any Marvel-related games.

This developer did work out an agreement with DC comics in the same year. They’ve since produced hit games based on DC movies.

However, Playtech also missed out on developing games centering on later Avengers movies—including Avengers: Endgame, which smashed box office records by earning $2.8 billion.

Move into the Mogul Stage

When I discuss the fall of Playtech, I don’t necessarily mean that their company is in tatters. In fact, they are one of the more-successful game developers from a financial perspective.

Instead, Playtech’s fall is related to their previous status as an innovator. Years ago, they were often on the forefront of game developments and licensed slots.

Things have definitely changed nowadays in this department. Playtech is much better known for their business prowess than anything else.

They earn €1.5 million in annual revenue. They’ve also made a number of high-profile moves and acquisitions over the past five years.

Here are some of the business-related highlights:

  • May 2016 – Acquires Swedish developer Quickspin for €50 million.
  • July 2016 – Acquires Best Gaming Technology for €138 million.
  • January 2017 – Builds a new studio in Bucharest, Romania.
  • February 2017 – Signs deal with DC Comics to develop DC movie-based slots.
  • October 2017 – Acquires BetBuddy to bolster their analytics.
  • April 2018 – Purchases a 70.6% stake in Italian betting company Snaitech for €291 million (€846 million when including Snaitech’s debt).
  • November 2018 – Buys the remainder of founder Teddy Sagi’s holdings in the company.

Playtech Is Doing Well – They Just Don’t Put Their Name on Everything

The days when Playtech consistently produced some of the hottest slots are long gone. They’ve been surpassed on the innovation front by a number of developers.

Big Time Gaming, Blueprint Gaming, ReelPlay, and Red Tiger Gaming are examples of studios that produce today’s highly anticipated releases. Playtech feels like a dinosaur compared to these online slot developers.

However, the same providers wouldn’t mind being in Playtech’s position. The latter likely makes more money annually than these four developers combined.

Playtech has morphed into a conglomerate that has its hands in various parts of the industry. For example, Quickspin still makes plenty of hit games for its parent company. However, Quickspin’s name gets the credit.

Moving forward, Playtech will continue concentrating on the gaming business. They have many shareholders that they must make happy. As a result, they’re not going to produce revolutionary games any time soon.

Conclusion

The name Playtech is no longer associated with hit new games. But it still has many classic games that earn the company lots of money.

Playtech is more of a mogul than anything these days. Aside from its hit games of the past, it owns other gambling companies.

This developer is also somewhat active itself too. Playtech continues to produce popular slots based on DC movies.

The only catch, though, is that they’re not consistently making hits beyond the DC franchise. They’re mainly just a successful company that focuses on big licensing deals, acquisitions, and running a successful business—not innovating the slots world.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

View all posts by Michael Stevens
Email the author at: [email protected]