A branded slot is any slot that shares its name with something or someone famous. We’re talking about films, TV shows, computer games, musicians, bands and people or characters who are famous for reasons I haven’t thought of yet. Any who fit that bill can have their name, their image, their music built into a slot and whoever is responsible for that name, image or music will be awarded a cut of the profits.
The advantage to any branded slot is that you shouldn’t have to work too hard on your marketing. At the end of the day celebrities and characters always have and always will help to sell products. The disadvantage is that celebrities don’t come cheap, meaning that only the software providers with deep pockets can afford to develop branded slots in the first place.
Additionally, it is getting harder for software providers to find willing participants. The gambling industry is not the flavour of the month right now, meaning many brands may want to steer clear. Let’s face it, the onslaught faced by betting firms in the media today would be enough for those looking to carve out a wholesome image for themselves to keep well clear.
This said, in 2019 there were a number of big-named branded slots to hit the market: “Conan”, “Village People”, “Black Mamba”, “Love Island”, “Ozzy Osbourne”, “Narcos” and “Monopoly Megaways”, to name but a few. All of this suggests that despite the bad press there is still money to be made and certain brands that are willing to gamble on slots.
The allure of a branded slot is simple: we love familiarity. We love to know what we are going to get before we get it and as much as we claim to enjoy surprises, in an overloaded market like video slots there is just way too much rubbish for some players to wade through. Finding that nugget of gold is likely to be a much easier task if you are already a fan of “Black Sabbath” or “Monopoly”.
I appreciate that video slots are played for the thrill of winning money, but if we can be entertained whilst we win or lose, we are more likely to find the experience worthwhile. There are exceptional unbranded slots out there, but unless you read reviews, which is itself time consuming you are unlikely to discover them. For the casual slots player a favourite movie or computer game is often the best way to decide which one of the hundreds available you’ll play first.
The biggest provider in the branded market today is probably Net Entertainment, who are themselves, arguably, the biggest name in slots today. However, their dominance as a software provider did not come to the fore because of branded slots. Slots like “Starburst”, “Gonzo’s Quest” and “Finn and Swirly Spin” were the platform that the Swedish giants needed to enter the world of branded slots and as they did so they took those three hugely popular games and developed their own brands.
Yet for every “Dead or Alive”, there is a “Jack Hammer” or a “Hotline”. Slots that on paper should be as popular as “Starburst” but never seem to capture the imagination of players in quite the same way. What I am trying to say is that before you can get the makers of “Planet of the Apes” to green light your idea for a new slot you need the magic and the money of a big entirely self-sufficient slot, something that is as elusive as the secret ingredient in your favourite soft drink.
Problems with Branded Slots
There are several pitfalls that providers can encounter when they develop a branded slot. For example, those who own the rights can put serious limits on what can and cannot be done with their brand. Certain images can be withheld, making it difficult to sell the slot as the brand it claims to be. Often the provider will have to show a greater degree of creativity to bring their slot to life than they would if they did all of the work themselves. Essentially, with a branded slot the developer is not working from the ground up, something that has the potential to leave a slot with shaky foundations.
Another issue that you might find with certain branded slots is that the ambition of the developers can take a knock. The deal is done, the hard work is over, package it up and send it out into the land of online casinos. There are a few branded slots out there that rely solely on the brand and forget that an experience still needs to be delivered.
And then there is the nail the coffin. The rug from under the feet. The poisoned chalice. The very worst kind of cliché. What happens when the brand changes their mind? When they demand you pull the product? If you want to get a quick insight into this, look no further than Playtech. They gobbled up the superhero market and threw countless numbers of Marvel slots our way. Then Disney bought the company over and said “No more”.
All that time, all that effort, gone. Ditched like a left swipe on Tinder, your branded slot sinks into forgotten and undesirable regions of the internet. Unregulated, uncontrolled and impossible to make any money from.
And finally there is a tightrope to be tiptoed over. The vulnerability of young people and children must be the first thought in the mind of anyone working in the gambling industry. Slots cannot, and this is categorical, be aimed at an audience who are too young to play them. But what exactly does that mean? Should the brand in question be one that only an adult can access? For example, there are at least 2 Jurassic Park slots that I am aware of. Those films are enjoyed by an adult audience but they are also enjoyed by children. Does that mean that these slots could be pulled and should providers only make slots based on films that are strictly adults only?
It is difficult to know exactly what this will mean for the future of branded slots but with the likes of “Creature from the Black Lagoon” released just this month I doubt we are anywhere near to seeing the last of them. Films or TV programmes like “Narcos” that are set in an environment strictly designed for adults will always be OK but if the lines are blurry or reputations are on the line we may not see a branded slot idea make it out the brainstorm meeting alive.
Our 10 Favourite Branded Slots
With countless numbers of branded slots for you to choose from, we wanted to make your life a little bit easier by picking out ThePogg’s 10 favourites. The 10 that we like the most to keep you from having to rummage around in casinos to find them yourself
The Downton Abbey slot is perfect for fans of video slots and fans of the show. The reels are divided into 2 parts, an upstairs and a downstairs, mirroring the show’s physical divide to emphasise a class divide that existed in England at the time. For the slot to tap into this is very impressive, with the designers doing more than just throwing features in for the sake of it and instead really thinking about their theme and how best to work features around it.
You get 3 different Free Spins features to name but a few that are available in this slot. We gave it 10 out of 10 and we’re pretty sure you will too.
Guns ‘n’ Roses
The Guns ‘n’ Roses slot was released in 2016, a full 8 years after the band’s most recent studio album, “Chinese Democracy”. In 1987 Axel Rose, Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff “Rose” McKagan and Steven Adler rose to fame off the back of their debut studio album, “Appetite for Destruction”, becoming on of the biggest bands in the process.
The slot spins away to 5 of the band’s best known and most loved tracks, allowing you to flick between them as you play. You get features and they are in keeping with the theme, from record flipping to crowd pleasing bonuses, solos and Free Spins. Ike “Appetite for Destruction”, this slot is a classic that will enjoyed for years to come.
The Vikings slot is nothing short of stunning. This is Net Entertainment doing what they do at their very best. The detail in each of the symbols is offset perfectly with gentle flurries of snow, suggesting there is a battle to come or that one has just ended, the calm before or after the storm. Add this a set of features that ties in perfectly with the series and you have a slot that will make Thor and Loki quake in their oversized boots.
Planet of the Apes
It was 2011 when Andy Serkis grappled his own torso into the lycra bodysuit that helped to bring Caesar, Leader of the Ape Army to life in the first of a series of rebooted Planet of the Apes movies. The Planet of the Apes slot needed another 6 years before it would make it into casinos but the wait was well worth it. Net Entertainment again, matched expectation with a slot that took into account the movies that had been released in the franchise up to that point. The slot comes with two sets of reels, a “Rise” and a “Dawn” meaning there is an awful lot going on at once. Both reels spin separately, meaning you can win on both. There are Free Spins planet of other features to make this one of the stand out branded slots for entertainment.
Who want to be a Millionaire Megaways
TheWho Wants to be a Millionaire Megaways slot takes all the best bits of the show and lets you play around with them when you get to the bonus. You are asked questions and have lifelines to help you through them when you trigger that bonus. This might not be the best looking slot in the world but it more than lives up to our expectations, in terms of the entertainment that in on offer.
The Battlestar Galactica slot comes with all the main characters as symbols and 3 engaging bonus features. You even get to take on the might of the Cylons in yet another slot that pays close attention to its source material. What allows this slot to really stand out is a house edge that is much more competitive than many of the branded slots out there today.
If you are going to hitch a ride on the Jurassic Park Jeep then you better make sure you make something that lives up to all that hype. When the Jurassic Park slot was released Microgaming were entering a classic era for branded slots, with a Terminator 2 slot hot of the press just a matter of this one. You have a Free Spins game that comes with 5 different possibilities. Add to that the exciting T-Rex Mode feature and a competitive house edge and you have a classic branded slot.
One of the best branded slots out there, the Narcos slot is the best gangster themed slot that you can play today and there isn’t a dodgy Italian accent in arms length. Based on the Netflix series that depicted the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, features include gems, such as the Drive By and Locked Up, which are a series of Free Spins and Bonuses. Characters from the show appear on the reels and you get to add to all this a gaming experience that is fun and engaging.
Rick and Morty Megaways
There is a lot to like about this slot inspired by Adult Swim’s cult hit, Rick and Morty. As I’m sure you can imagine Rick and Morty Megaways looks exactly the same as the TV show and taps into a few key episodes to bring us some brilliantly designed Free Spins. This is a Megaways slot, so you have that excitement alone to keep you enthralled, plus a Buy Now feature that is not available in all regions. This one comes with a very competitive house edge, rounding off a slot that hits all the high notes.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Star Trek: The Next Generation slot comes with the show’s central cast as symbols and has you veering off into space on the back of the USS Enterprise. You get a number of random features, one where you get to shoot your enemies but the best bit about this slot has to be the Free Spins, where characters from the show are beamed down, fully stacked onto reels. This excellent addition proves that when designers think carefully about connection of the features to the theme, they can elevate a slot light years above the competition.
There you have it, a list of ThePogg’s favourite branded slots. I’m sure there are some you think should have been included, like Conan, the Ozzy Osbourne Video Slot or even the Spinal Tap slot. And who knows, on another day, maybe they would have suck their way onto this list.
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