Gaming Under License: How Brands Are Influencing the Online Casino Market in Australia


In 2004, provider Microgaming, headed by Roger Raatgever, released Tomb Raider. This is the first branded slot machine. The main character in a familiar guise attracted a new audience to the game. The new trend was supported by other major casino software providers. And now, in 2021, there are over 440 exciting branded slots online. Marvel and DC comic book characters, popular TV series and movies have entered the gaming industry through the initiative of Microgaming.

What are branded online slots?

During the development of a game, the supplier faces an important question: to create a new intellectual property (IP) or to take advantage of a ready-made property. In the first case, the company must come up with characters, story and other nuances. In the second case, they must buy the rights to use the intellectual property.

Branded slots include all games featuring well-known characters or celebrities (actors). A great example is the Game of Thrones slot machine – it was launched by Microgaming in 2015. This approach not only partly facilitates development, but also attracts the attention of Australian fans of the series.

A similar technique is used in other fields. In movies, it’s easier to promote familiar images. People go to Batman and Spider-Man movies because they know what they’ll get in return. For this reason, the public receives an inordinate number of remakes.

Why do Australian casinos use branded content?

Famous images and characters do not guarantee the success of a product. Many companies have tried to introduce out-of-the-box content, but their attempts have failed. On top of that, the provider has to hand over a portion of the profits – the top online casino sites in Australia take royalties of around 15% of the revenue.

Most often, brand content is done for several reasons:

  • Increased visibility. Every month, around 450 new online slot machines are created. Game operators are not willing to add every new product to the site – however, a familiar brand will increase the odds. Also, these games usually stay in the top longer.
  • Creation of notoriety. The credibility of the audience with a young company will increase if it cooperates with a well-known brand like Disney. Such partnerships have a greater impact on players than regulatory approval.
  • For small studios, licensed content is one of the few opportunities to break into the big leagues. But they don’t always manage to get brand mentions. For example, Gordon Ramsay is unlikely to want to work with an independent studio and would prefer a large provider with an impressive portfolio of hit slots.

The verdict

Favorite music, an engaging protagonist, and recognizable animations encourage players to spin the drum. Players have the chance to touch the familiar story and feel nostalgic again. However, most players are unaware that it comes at a high price.

Big brands require about 15% of turnover. For a branded game to be profitable, casinos need to lower the RTP. In other words, less reward awaits players in branded games.


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