Sometimes, software providers are born from the ashes of previous companies. This can happen when a previous developer sees its reputation decline, or simply can’t make its business financially viable, but still has some good games or other assets that might be desirable to investors, who feel like they can incorporate what’s left of the studio into another company that might be more successful.
That appears to be exactly how Pragmatic Play was born. Created in 2015, the company will be very familiar to those who have played at TopGame casinos in the past. That software was first launched in 2007, and was best-known in the American market, as the studio primarily focused on providing games to grey market jurisdictions.
However, TopGame also picked up a reputation for being associated with some very poor casinos, some of which were even rogue operators that took advantage of players who deposited with them. That wasn’t necessarily the software’s fault, of course; unfortunately, bugs were common as well in the early days, including some that were detrimental to players.
As a result, the firm fell out of favor and eventually closed up shop entirely, being purchased by investors in 2015. They relaunched the software under the Pragmatic Play banner, once again targeting the US and other grey markets, and hoping that the maligned software could get a fair shake with a new generation of players who would judge it for what it offers now, rather than its questionable past under other ownership.
Huge Selection Mixes Classic and Contemporary
One of the first things that will strike you when you take a look at the Pragmatic collection is the sheer size of it, particularly when it comes to their slots selection. This is where it’s important to remember that the provider isn’t quite as young as their 2015 launch makes it seem, since it still has the assets and games that came from the old Top Game collection.
There are more than 100 slots in total to be found here, with the majority of those being part of the video slots collection (the others, about 30, are included as part of a “classic” line of mainly three-reel machines). The quality of these titles varies, and it is clear that they have been made over a number of years: some look rather dated, while others look like they could be found in any high-end modern collection.
Let’s take a look at a few specific games in order to get an idea of what this developer has to offer. Our first game is Beowulf, which definitely fits into the category of the better looking games in the collection. The ancient lesson is brought to life against the backdrop of a fortress at night while dramatic music plays. It’s a 40-line, five-reel machine that uses a variety of Norse theming in its symbols: beyond the basic low-value wins (thankfully these are the card suits, rather than the queens, kings, and aces that are so often overused), you’ll see horns, longboats, and royalty, along with Beowulf himself, who triggers the biggest wins. Our hero shows up stacked on the reels, and can even trigger a respin feature that can lead to a huge number of Beowulf symbols showing up on all five reels.
One of the most famous games in this collection is Sugar Rush, a title that’s all about sticking as many different kinds of candy on the screen as once as possible. You’ll see gummies, hard candies, cookies and cupcakes strewn across your winning paylines in this five-reel game. A gingerbread man acts as a wild, while scatters can help you earn as many as 20 free spins and a bonus round will see you earn as much as 3,000 instant credits added to your balance. With bright colors and a sickly sweet theme, this is a title that has inspired a number of spinoff machines: Sugar Rush Summer Time, Sugar Rush Winter, and Sugar Rush Valentine’s Day.
To give you an idea of the overall range here, we’d also like to spotlight one of the classic slots included in this portfolio. Many of these titles come in three versions, featuring one, three, or five lines respectively, but we’ll focus on a machine with just one option: the three-line, three-reel game known as Russian Attack. The basic symbol here is a Russian guitar-like instrument known as a Balalaika, which will earn you a prize if you can hit at least one anywhere on the screen. Three bars (in single, double, and triple versions) or accordions are worth bigger rewards, while the hammer and sickle serve as the jackpot symbol, worth as much as 6,000 coins. With a bold red theme, this is definitely a game that evokes a heavy Soviet atmosphere.
With more than 100 slots on offer, you should be able to find at least a handful of games that offer a mix of gameplay and theming that you like. A few more of the more interesting machines include:
While slots are the strongest part of the Pragmatic Play collection, there are other games offered. In terms of table games, the company has created a number of different versions of both roulette and blackjack, including a double exposure blackjack variant. Beyond that, you can also try Casino War and baccarat. These games are perfectly fine recreations of the action you’d see in a live casino, though the graphics are far from impressive; they feel just a bit stiff and blocky at times, but get the job done.
Four video poker machines are also included, including some of the most popular versions of the game in the world. These include the following:
- Jacks or Better
- Deuces Wild
- Joker Poker
- Deuces and Joker
There are also a series of three specialty games, including keno and a scratch card known as Weed Whackers. But the most interesting of these is Go Monkey, a game in which you bet on a race between six monkeys. Hit the top two winners and you’ll win a prize, with plenty of ways to earn some bonus cash, like random multipliers, a baccarat side bet, and the potential for more monkeys to pay out. It’s an interesting twist on the old “virtual horse racing” genre, and with crazy graphics and music, it’s a lot of fun to play when you want to take a break from more intense games.
An Improved Product with Worldwide Appeal
When you consider that they still have a bit of the stink of the old TopGame name on them, Pragmatic Play has actually done a good job of getting their software used by a wide variety of operators around the world, and improving their reputation along the way.
It’s easy to see why many site owners would turn to this provider. Not only do they offer interesting games, but they do so in nearly 80 countries around the world, with products that are ready to be rolled out in 16 different languages. More than 80 of their titles are also available in mobile versions, which is critical in many markets where smartphone and tablet players are quickly eclipsing desktop users.
Apparently, the iGaming industry is also taking notice of how well Pragmatic is doing with their offerings. In 2016, the company was nominated for several industry prizes. At the Asia Gaming Awards, they were a finalist in both the Best Online Supplier and Best Mobile Solution categories, while eGaming Review included them in their shortlist in the Software Rising Star Category – clearly showing that they feel the developer is doing an excellent job of moving past the reputation of TopGame and bringing their software and casino portfolio to new heights.
Better Management, But Partners Deserve Scrutiny
Overall, Pragmatic Play has done an excellent job of taking the assets of TopGame and rebuilding this into a software package that deserves to get a fresh look from players. They seem to be a trustworthy operation, and the fact that the industry at large has started to notice them is a great sign that their reputation should remain better than that of their predecessor.
However, there is still one outstanding problem: many of the casinos that choose to use this software are less than reputable operations, and that is likely to leave many gamblers with a bad impression of the company. That’s enough for us not to recommend jumping into a Pragmatic-powered site without doing a little research first.
The good news is that we’re more than happy to recommend some trusted casinos that include Pragmatic Play games, and we’re confident that you’ll enjoy playing at any of these safe and reputable sites. With a large and interesting game selection and an improving profile, this may well be one of the better software options in the United States and other grey markets – just be careful where you choose to play.