That’s Entertainment: The NetEnt StoryPublished May 29, 2016 by Duncan Wilkie
If you’re a player with even a passing interest in online video slots and table games, you’ll no doubt be familiar with a software provider by the name of NetEnt. One of the true heavy-hitters in the field of iGaming, the brand is virtually ubiquitous at
What you might not know, however, is that the group behind NetEnt have a history that pre-dates the launch of the company in 1996 and even the arrival of the internet. Originally known as Cherry, the group that would ultimately go on to found NetEnt were once one of Scandinavia’s leading off-line casino operators until a slot machine ban in Sweden forced them to rip up their business model.
Within a month the foundation of Cherry’s enterprise had disappeared entirely, with the group acquiring a number of similarly affected Swedish gaming companies to form a new operation. From 1986 to 1991 this reorganised conglomerate supplied slot machines to countries in Eastern Europe, until the dawn of the internet prompted CEO Pontus Lindwall to re-evaluate the future of Cherry.
Recognising the vast potential of online gaming despite the limited technological capabilities of the internet at the time, in 1996 Lindwall founded NetEnt and convinced Cherry and Kinnivek (one of the largest listed investment groups in Europe) to plough a sum of 75 million SEK into his new company.
Fast-forward 20 years and NetEnt is now one of the most established and well-respected suppliers of gaming solutions in the online casino industry with some 227 games in their current portfolio and many more new titles in the pipeline for 2016. Though never launching an online casino themselves, NetEnt now provide software to over 185 sites, including some of the biggest brands in the industry.
Household names in the world of online gambling like 888, Unibet and Bet365 are all among NetEnt’s list of clients, as are huge standalone casino companies like Mr Green, LeoVegas and Casumo. Indeed, these days it is less a selling point to offer a selection of NetEnt titles on your site than it is a mandatory requirement, as the company have become the standard-bearers for iGaming.
Though providing a variety of table games, video poker titles and instant win scratch cards, it is really in the field video slots where NetEnt has managed to establish such a lofty position in the industry. With so many different casino networks hosting their games, the company has been able to offer some of the biggest pooled progressive jackpots in the industry, attracting mainstream recognition.
There is perhaps no better illustration of this fact than the company being written into the Guinness Book of Records in 2011, when a young Swedish player won the largest jackpot payout in online casino history after bagging €11.7 million on NetEnt’s Mega Fortune slot. Though the group have since lost that title to rival software providers Microgaming, NetEnt currently boasts three of the top five biggest ever online wins including a company-record €17,861,800 paid out back in January 2013.
|1996||The year in which NetEnt was founded|
|185||Number of casinos offering NetEnt games as of the end of 2015|
|227||Current number of NetEnt titles available, including NetEnt Touch games|
|€8,500,000||Initial amount invested in NetEnt by Cherry and Kinnevik at today’s rates|
|€17,861,800||Record progressive jackpot paid out by the company’s Mega Fortune slot|
|9||Since 2010, NetEnt has earned nine recognised awards in the field of innovation alone|
|522.50SEK||Record share price (Swedish Krona) recorded by NetEnt publ AB in May 2016|
Of course, while stories of their slots creating multi-millionaires are what drives the casual players to NetEnt, for the discerning gamer it is more about the company’s continued commitment to slot innovation. No other software provider has so consistently redefined the way we think about slot technology – and this fact is recognised by NetEnt collecting nine awards for innovation since 2010.
While other companies have stumbled upon a once-winning formula and simply let it stagnate over the years, NetEnt have always pushed the boundaries in terms experimental payment systems and exciting bonus features. Take their March 2016 release, Aloha! Cluster Pays, for instance. Here, the company does away with a conventional payline system altogether and instead rewards players for gathering clusters of nine or more symbols, with random sticky re-spins further boosting their prize.
It is a similar story with one of NetEnt’s most popular video slots, Aliens, too. Based on the iconic sci-fi horror film franchise, the title plays less like a conventional video slot than it does a computer game, with players progressing through three unique levels as they complete certain challenges. Couple this with immersive 3D graphics and sound and it genuinely is a nerve-shredding experience.
Though their features and approach to payouts may differ, one thing you’ll never get with a NetEnt slot is that straight-off-the-production-line quality. Each game feels like a genuine labour of love has been put into developing not only the look and feel of the slot, but also the concept that underpins it – and it is this ongoing commitment to quality that separates NetEnt from much of the competition.
A Bright Future
So what’s next for NetEnt in 2016? Well, the company will undoubtedly continue to expand the list of games available in its NetEnt Touch portfolio (a collection of existing NetEnt titles that have been re-developed and optimised for mobile devices) as more of their online casino partners look to tap into the mobile gaming sector, while there are also a handful of new slots currently in development.
As you can see from the boxout below, the company averages over a game a month in terms of new releases and their next title, Theme Park Tickets Of Fortune, is expected to rival even April’s Jimi Hendrix in terms of launch day popularity. Featuring a funfair-style bonus system in which players collect tickets from a prize wheel that can then be redeemed for entry into one of six features, the slot already has the NetEnt steal of innovation and both looks and sounds great in the teaser videos.
Beyond that, you can simply expect NetEnt to do what they’ve always done: pioneer new features and payout systems, battle with Microgaming for the biggest ever jackpot payout and continue to offer their brand at even more top online casinos. It’s fair to say the future looks very bright indeed.
NetEnt Releases In 2016
|January 15||Bollywood Story|
|January 21||Guns N’ Roses Slots|
|February 23||Drive: Multiplier Mayhem|
|March 22||Aloha! Cluster Pays|
|April 21||Jimi Hendrix Slots|
|May 24||Football: Champions Cup|
|June 22||Theme Park Tickets Of Fortune|