Despite a recent (and unexpected) contraction during Q1 last year, there can be little doubt that the iGaming market in the UK represents big business. After all, this thriving sector generated a total GGY of £5.3 billion for the year ending March 2019, now accounting for 37% of the gambling industry as a whole.
This success has been built largely on the back of several market-leading game developers, including dominant players such as Microgaming and NetEnt.
Both of these entities were launched at the beginning of the iGaming revolution during the 1990s, with Microgaming becoming the first operator to launch an online casino back in 1994.
Since that time, we’ve seen exponential growth in casinos offering games from both of these providers. If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’ve already partaken of a few Microgaming no deposit bonuses and free spins along. The same can be said for Netent fans, who aren’t short of a promo or two.
But which of these two rivals is the better casino software provider, and why should you care as an online gambler? Let’s find out!
Let’s Start with the Basics – Quality vs. Quantity
While Microgaming dominated the early marketplace and blazed a trail for other software houses to follow, NetEnt were quick to carve their own unique niche barely two years later in 1996.
Despite launching within 24 months of one another, Microgaming has definitely stolen the spotlight in terms of the number of games produced for the iGaming market.
Although both companies boast game libraries that are dominated by slots (which currently account for nearly two-thirds of the total online GGY), Microgaming have developed more than 850 unique casino games for the contemporary marketplace.
There are also an estimated 1,200 variants of these games, including various iterations of blackjack, roulette and baccarat.
This comprehensive list includes iconic titles and cult classics such as Thunderstruck, Immortal Romance and Jurassic Park – all themed and immersive slots that combine excellent gameplay and competitive return-to-player (RTP) rates.
Conversely, NetEnt has produced closer to 500 unique casino games, including in excess of 300 slot titles.
The latter collection also features some of the most popular and seminal slots on the market, including Gonzo’s Quest, Dracula and Starburst. Starburst being the most commonly used slot by online casinos worldwide as part of their welcome bonus offers.
While Microgaming may dominate in terms of numbers, however, some may argue that the NetEnt brand prioritises quality over quantity when developing its library.
This is partially borne out by the sheer popularity and graphical quality associated with games such as Gonzo’s Quest, with this title the first to be relaunched as a 3D slot back in 2018.
However, the perceived difference in quality between Microgaming and NetEnt titles remains negligible at best, while the sheer size and diversity of the former’s range definitely affords them a competitive edge.
Variance and RTP Rate
We’ve already touched upon RTP rate, which must be published for every online casino game and indicates how much a machine pays out for every 100 units of currency paid in.
In this respect, low-variance slots tend to be the most popular among casual players, as they often offer RTP rates in excess of 96%. All of which enables casual gamers to manage their bankrolls more effectively.
Interestingly, many people consider NetEnt to be the best provider of low-variance games, but this has more to do with the popularity of specific titles and the developer’s focus on creating multiple bonus rounds.
In fact, many of the products in their library tend to boast mid-variance gameplay, whereas Microgaming offers a huge number of understated low-variance titles that provide frequent (if relatively modest) base game returns.
We’ve also seen Microgaming launch a range of new low-variance slots over the course of the last few years, with many of these performing exceptionally well at online casinos throughout the UK.
Take Cool Buck, for example, which can be played for as little as £0.09 per spin in pursuit of an impressive jackpot prize of 10,000 coins.
This title also follows the classic Microgaming template by offering a single yet immersive bonus round, which can be unlocked in one of two ways – by collecting a specific number of pink stars, or by landing three or more Cool Buck scatter symbols.
Ultimately, we’d argue that Microgaming remains your best bet when searching for low-variance games that offer optimal RTP rates, but you should always compare what’s on offer to find the most suitable titles for your preferences and gaming style.
What About the Other End of the Spectrum – Who Offers the Best Progressive Jackpot Games?
At the other end of the iGaming spectrum sits progressive jackpot games, with titles such as Microgaming’s ‘Mega Moolah’ and NetEnt’s ‘Mega Fortune’ having dominated this space for years.
Both software houses offer huge and impressive collections of progressive jackpot games – titles belonging to Microgaming and NetEnt having produced some truly staggering jackpots in recent times.
For example, NetEnt’s brilliant Hall of Gods title paid out €7 million to one lucky player in 2017, while Microgaming’s iconic Mega Moolah broke its own record for online payouts by delivering a whopping $21.7 million jackpot 12 months later.
Despite the fact that both developers have plenty of tried-and-tested progressive jackpot games in their arsenals, some argue that Microgaming offers a wider choice of titles and potentially bigger jackpots.
Microgaming having paid out more than €600 million in jackpots during its history, which is a pretty impressive figure to say the least.
The Last Word
As you can see, there’s little to separate Microgaming and NetEnt. Although it could be argued that the former holds a slight advantage in terms of number of games on offer, diversity of gameplay and payouts on offer.
Of course, there’s also a strong argument that NetEnt holds a distinct advantage in terms of real-time gaming. Credited with developing an advanced Mobile Live Casino that has taken the industry by storm, NetEnt as well on its way to stealing the spotlight from the legendary Evolution Gaming brand.
Across the board, however, Microgaming is generally considered the dominant provider for today’s market. A trend showing no sign of abating anytime soon.
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