You’ve almost certainly played one or more NetEnt slots if you’ve been anywhere near the online slots industry.
Are NetEnt games good for players?
We’ve said that NetEnt are big, let’s have a look at how big they are. NetEnt in 2019 tell us that they handled 58.3 billion gaming transactions. The company have been operating for 20 years. Their games are run on 200 casino sites. The company has produced more than 200 games – and we’ll look at some of them later on in this guide.
NetEnt was founded in 1996 and initially called Net Entertainment (the name was abbreviated in 2015). NetEnt is Swedish. Sweden is one of the hot spots of the online gambling industry and it is home to some of the biggest names in the games designing industry.
There’s an odd reason for this: a gambling ban. In the 1970s slot machines were banned in Sweden. A company called Cherry, who had been doing very nicely in the sector, suddenly had a problem, so they went international. First of all, they shipped slot machines across Europe, but when the internet started to take off they found a new outlet for their product and went for it.
This made NetEnt very early adopters of the new tech – the oldest online gambling company is Microgaming, who were founded in 1994. A man called Pontus Lindwall founded the company, Net Entertainment, and got Cherry, and another company, Kinnevik, to sign up and finance the business. Soon they were making big waves in the fledgeling online casino industry. It took time though: they started with a single customer and didn’t make a profit for the first seven years of operation.
By 2006 they were able to open an office in Malta, with licensing from the Maltese Gaming Authority, the pioneering European online gambling regulator. Soon they had more international offices as the internet gambling world boomed, and by 2007 NetEnt was a publically listed company on the Stockholm Nasdaq exchange.
Now, the company has around 1,000 employees and a number of brands, including the specialist mobile company NetEnt Touch.
NetEnt are no longer the company that they once were. The story of the online slots industry is one of the mergers, acquisitions, and takeovers. And NetEnt has been a big player in more ways than one in the past few years. NetEnt made big waves in 2019 when they bought the relatively new slots developer, Red Tiger, for a whopping £220 million.
Red Tiger have gone on to have big hits with the company, including developing a new version of Gonzo’s Quest, one of NetEnt’s biggest hits, with the licensed Megaways gaming engine from Big Time Gaming.
Having once been the devourers, NetEnt are now the devoured. At the end of 2020, their shares were taken off the Stockholm listings as a takeover bid came in from Evolution Gaming. Evolution are the biggest name in the live casino industry, which is the boom area at the moment.
NetEnt also have a big catalogue of live casino games, so in buying them up Evolution Gaming have taken on one of their biggest competitors in a boom area, and become one of the world’s biggest slot companies. This is a big deal: in 2018 NetEnt had about 1/3rd of the European slots industry and nearly 1/5th of the world’s slot market. There is an issue for players in this. Players need to know which company’s they are dealing with, and the slots industry is full of companies that are not quite what they appear to be, in that they are owned by other, larger operators.
This is true of casino companies, many of which are run as branded off-shoots of much larger companies, as well as slots companies, who often release games under a large number of brand names. How can one choose and how can competition operate if one doesn’t know what one is looking at?
We know that you can trust NetEnt slots because they are a well-known, long-lived and highly trusted company. More than that they are licensed. And look at them all! NetEnt are licensed in:
So, yes, you can trust them. Those American licences are a big deal. America is waking up to online gambling, but the licensing rules are still very restrictive – meeting the requirements to operate in those states that do now allow online gambling, and New Jersey was a real pioneer in this, is a big plus for NetEnt, and might be on the of the things that attracted Evolution Gaming.
Now we’re getting to the fun part! Games. NetEnt, as we’ve said, have produced over 200 games. Plus, they are the owners of the Red Tiger catalogue, which we will not be considered here. NetEnt games come in every shape and size. We’ve covered the company’s size a lot.
We’ve also shown you that they’re licensed as casino operators in some places. This market power gives NetEnt an enormous reach. And reach and visibility is an enormous part of success in the online slots industry.
If you go to even an average casino site these days you’re likely to be faced with a choice of over 1,000 slot games. How on earth do you choose from those? You are incredibly likely to play games you already know, or that are shown to you very early in your site visit (anyone who works in search marketing knows that almost no one looks beyond the 2nd page of Google results).
So NetEnt has a lot of power, and it can strike deals that put their games right at the top of all the lists on a casino site. So you will see NetEnt games everywhere. Starburst for example is the UK’s favourite slot game. And if you go to almost any site offering free spins offers as a welcome bonus there’s a massive chance that you’ll be offered free spins on Starburst.
The power of this as marketing is enormous! First of all, it looks like hundreds of endorsements of the game’s quality from all the casino sites that offer it. And then players are going to get used to playing this game and they’re massively likely to return to it. That’s not to say that NetEnt games aren’t great quality! They are! But the company’s success is down to more than that.
We cannot give you a full rundown of every NetEnt game. However, we can show you around the most popular games, plus we’ll throw in a couple of new ones too! These rankings are based on popularity in the world’s biggest gaming market. You should always check theoretical return to player and hit ratings at the site you are using and we recommend you read one of our guides on what these figures mean and how to make sense of them.
It’s easy to find NetEnt’s biggest hit because it’s the biggest game in the UK and possibly the most popular slot in the world in history. Starburst is old, it was released in 2012, and still keeps players coming back to enjoy its futuristic sci-fi graphics and chilled-out ambient soundtrack. The game is a very straightforward classic slot, with 10 pay-lines over 5 reels (and 3 rows) and a wilds feature as the main extra feature. The game’s low variance means it’s relatively low paying, and the RTP of 96.09% is very acceptable in the current market. Amazingly, this hugely popular game has no free spins round. Enjoy Starburst safely with staking from 1p to £100 (.01 coins to 100 coins).
And another giant, and another giant that is very often offered in free spins offers. Gonzo’s Quest has just been remade as a Megaways game by NetEnt subsidiary Red Tiger, but the original remains a massive hit, despite being nearly 10 years old. It’s still good looking, and the game mechanics feel fresh and smooth. The RTP is a very nice 95.97% with medium to high variance and a top prize of nearly 4,000 times your stake. That could be a big fee if you put up the 50 coins top stake. This one has a free spin round and a multiplier and is a favourite with big prize hunters.
This is another timeless hit from NetEnt, also released in 2013, and taking the classic fruity slot and giving it a very tasty and delicious twist. Super-nice graphics and sound make the game appealing on the eye, and the gameplay is novel, with atypical reel sets, and a big paytable of symbols. The figures are also pretty good with a very nice 96.96% and medium variance making it competitive even in 2021 and beyond. The top prize is 3,840 times a stake that could be as high as 2 coins. There’s a free spins round as the main bonus but the gameplay offers challenges and surprises throughout.
Another classically themed game, Twin Spin has the looks of a classic fruit game but jazzes up the gameplay with 243 ways to win. The grid is classic and the gameplay is minimal as you’d expect in a classic game. The top prize could be 270,000 coins, but that’s largely thanks to a very high top stake of 125 coins rather than a great prize ratio, which is relatively low for a game with volatility that heads towards the higher end of the medium range.
We’ve never yet come across an actual Irish-based slot developer, but we have seen several hundred thousand Irish themed games! This newish release from NetEnt adds another take to the genre but doesn’t do all that much different with it. The low to medium variance delivers RTP of 96.06% but a very very nice top prize of 5,000 times stake. Betting of up to 200 coins makes that very substantial. The features are thickly spread on top, with a choice of bonus games, and this game should stand up well in a crowded area of the market.
“Culture” games are a bit of a sore point. There’s no way that slot game is going to do anything more than wave its hands at culture and copy a few symbols. That’s true from Ireland to Hawaii, which is the backdrop to this game that is mainly celebrated for its excellent cluster prize game mechanics. Free spins are the main bonus and the top prize is a very nice 100,000 coins. Betting goes up to 200 coins and the game has several novel features including an atypical reel layout, and, although it’s not a deep dive into a fascinating culture – go and check it out! – it looks very nice and sounds great too.
Megaways get bolted onto an old favourite from NetEnt, This game is a big prize follow-up without a big prize. Divine Fortune is a progressive jackpot game, and those titles live and die in a market all of their own. This game tones down the top prize from the lifesaving sums of the progressive to a still generous 500-times stake – at 100 coins that would change my life, I don’t know about you. Megaways games are hugely popular at the moment but the gameplay is very similar to a standard slot in most ways. You get all the usual extras, resins, changing reel sets, and so on, and the game retains the Ancient Greek theming that helped make the original such a hit.
We have no idea why some tie-ins become hits and others don’t. All we can tell from the success of Narcos is perhaps slots players would love to be ultraviolent drug traffickers? Probably not! They probably just love the depth of the gameplay in this character-driven title that’s a very decent attempt to put a popular TV show into 15 symbols. There’s lots of moving images and arcade action to build on the 96.23% RTP, medium-to-high variance, 1,506-times stake top prize and 400 coins top stake. Careful if you’re playing at that level, and well done if you hit the free spins and multipliers. Koi Princess East Asian culture has been an enduring feature of slots in the past couple of years. Those newer games tend to be Chinese themed though and there are relatively few games taking Japanese anime as their base, like Koi Princess, a 2015 game that has a long life thanks to its stylish looks and decent game mechanics. RTP is market average and you could win 200,000 coins off the pay table wins if you hit big on free spins.
Do you notice how many of these games are oldies? Dazzle Me is a classic fruity-style game with a lovely RTP of 96.9%, that’s great value from a low variance game that nevertheless has a top prize of over 150,000 coins from betting running from 0.01 coins to 1 coin. These figures are really good, and you could forget about the rest of the details and have a popular game, but Dazzle Me also delivers on aesthetics and gameplay.
New games will come pouring out of NetEnt in 2021 including some big innovations like a VR version of Gonzo’s Quest, a tie-in with Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares (good luck!), and two Chinese culture themed games and a couple of ancient culture games – and that’s just what we know is coming.
You can trust NetEnt slots if you play them at licensed sites that are legal and legitimate for you to play at. NetEnt are licensed all over the world and in their 20-year history have won numerous awards.
Yes, you can! There are demo mode options on most casino sites, but you will have to sign up in order to access this. You can also look at review sites and referral sites, where in return for your (legitimate!) date of birth you should be able to play demo versions. We were unable to access versions at NetEnt’s website, but we do recommend you take a look there as the site will show you where you can play these games and give you a lot of information.
To play for real money you need to find a licensed casino site (which you can do with us or at NetEnt’s site). Then you need to set up an account and make a deposit, or accept a no deposit or free spins offer, then find the game and start to play.
There is no shortcut to winning NetEnt slots, which are based on random number generators. In order to play them safely, you should play them on demo mode first, make sure you read the small print and rules, and play following safe gambling rules.
NetEnt slots are as good as any in the business, they cover all genres and styles of slots, from classic slots to the latest video slots games that have characters, plot lines and arcade-style games.
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