Indie Gaming in the Online Casino World

This week, Microgaming announced the launch of its brand-new indie outfit, Stormcraft Studios. It is interesting that such a big-name company would venture into the indie world – so, we’d like to take a look at what has drawn Microgaming towards game development on a smaller scale.

Microgaming is the second company to create its own indie startup, Stormcraft Studios. This development has come just one year after 1x2 Gaming launched Irondog Studios – and a couple of months after Irondog was nominated for the EGR B2B Rising Star Award.

Over the course of the past few years, we have seen plenty of new games developers pop up. Competing with huge names like Playtech and Microgaming would seem like a daunting endeavour, but companies like Thunderkick and ELK Studios have held their own. In fact, many games from these newer, indie developers have been creating much more buzz than recent releases from their larger counterparts so it’s no surprise that big-name companies have been working hard to make their mark in the indie market.

Are We Following a Traditional Gaming Trend?

Casino games development seems to be going the way of traditional gaming. Many big names at Triple-A companies that create PC and console games have been leaving their cushy posts to create their own indie startups.

There are plenty of high profile gaming professionals who moved on to pursue development in a smaller environment . For example, Ken Levine left his position of head developer at Irrational Games, which created Bioshock Infinite, to launch Ghost Story Games "to create immersive, story-driven games for people who love games that ask something of them".

Of course, executives at Microgaming and 1x2 Gaming haven’t left their positions to pursue indie casino game development – but they are dipping their toes in. So, who knows? This trend could continue to spread and we may see companies like Playtech and NetEnt going indie sometime soon.

What Makes Indie Games So Different?

If you’re a big fan of online slots, you will notice a discernible difference between the recent games launched by larger firms and those that come from indie studios. Let’s take a look at one of 1x2 Gaming’s latest games, compared to a new Irondog release:

Red Dragon
This 1x2 Gaming slot features a classic format with 25 paylines and fairly simple graphics. It comes with just two standard bonus features: a free spins game and a pick-a-prize round.

Wai Kiki
Wai Kiki from Irondog features a vibrant theme with calming, Hawaiian soundtrack. There are three different bonus features, including a unique shark fishing round – and Night Mode is activated during the free spins bonus.

These are two vastly different games, and they represent slots development from two different perspectives. While Red Dragon aims to appeal to players who are fans of more classic slots, Wai Kiki’s gameplay is a bit more experimental. It doesn’t feature the same tried-and-true gameplay as Red Dragon, but provides players with features that they might be intrigued about since they’re unlikely to find them in other online slots.

It really is an interesting time in online casino game development. We’re beginning to see a shift away from traditional-style slots and more emphasis on more radical innovations that could take online casino gaming in a new direction. For example, games like Cuphead, Moonlighter and Papers Please aren’t the types of titles that would come from Triple-A developers – but they have made a huge impact on the gaming world, thanks to the pioneering vision of their designers.