One of the difficulties of starting an online casino software company is getting your games and software out to clients. If you’re a virtual unknown in the industry, few casino sites are likely to want to deal with you when there are so many more established options out there. That’s why so many developers are founded by those with industry experience and connections.
That’s certainly the case for the Skywind Group, an online casino software provider that was established in 2012. Headquartered in the Isle of Man, the group also maintains development centers in the Philippines, Australia, Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, and Cyprus. Like most companies that have created games for the iGaming industry, they have drawn on experienced programmers and artists in order to build their products. But what has most obviously fueled their success is their connection to gaming giant Playtech, a relationship that has led to exclusive distribution agreement between the two firms.
A Memorable Slots Collection
Skywind’s contribution to real money online casinos comes mainly in the form of slot machines. There are about 30 different slots in their portfolio, all of which feature high-end graphics and bright, vivid colors, and strong theming. Many of their games feature Asian theming, though there are also plenty with more universal concepts behind them. These games load relatively quickly and are smoothly animated, making these machines feel at home right alongside the titles of other major developers.
These titles also cover a wide range of gameplay styles, though most do fit into the standard five-reel layout. All games are created using HTML5, meaning that the games are playable on mobile devices as well as just about any operating system or web browser you might be running. Some machines also support progressive jackpot awards. There’s plenty of variety here to satisfy players, especially since these games are typically part of a larger casino selection, rather than offered independently as the complete library of a gambling site.
Game of Queens
One of the Skywind slots that stood out to us was Queens of Ice & Fire, a fantasy-themed game that certainly evokes the name of A Song of Ice and Fire, the series of novels that inspired the Game of Thrones television series. The game uses a fantastic blend of colors on the reels, with blues, reds, and purples that help to provide an otherworldly look to the screen. All of the icons in play are highly detailed and really add depth to the fantasy theme, exemplifying the hot and cold concept.
The gameplay takes place on a large five-reel grid with 50 paylines, all of which can award wins both left-to-right and right-to-left. The symbols start with the classic card suits, but move up to the representations of ice and fire: animals like tigers and polar bears, along with the two queens themselves. Wild keys can help complete winning paylines, or create their own large wins if you can hit a few of them in a row.
Hit three or more scattered lock icons, and you’ll get to pick from three special features. In the Ice game, you’ll get seven free spins with sticky wilds. Choose Fire, and you’ll get 15 free plays with stacked symbols on the reels. Finally, players have the options of taking a chance with the Mystery feature, which will award a random number of free spins with either the stacked icons or the sticky wilds.
A Trip to China
As we noted before, there is a strong emphasis on Asian themes, with games based on Chinese concepts being particularly prevalent in the Skywind collection. For instance, there’s San Fu, a game that references the name for the hottest days in the traditional Chinese farmer’s calendar. San also means three, which helps explain why the gameplay on this machine revolves around three Chinese gods. While the game uses fairly simple graphics, there’s still a fair amount of detail in the symbols, and the theme is instantly recognizable.
Once again, this is a five-reel machine, but this time with five paylines that run left to right. Unlike most machines, players typically only need to match two icons in a row in order to score small wins. Fruits, red envelops, fish, and coins are among the many different symbols that can produce wins for players. Wilds are once again present, and can either combine with other icons to create winning lines, or produce their own very large payouts if you match two or more in a row.
Though this is a pretty straightforward machine, there is one special feature that can be triggered. The three main characters – the deities Lu, Fu, and Shou – serve as scatters. Hit three or more of any one of them anywhere on the screen, and you’ll get to play a bonus game based on these Three Stars; hitting four or five scatters increases the multiplier on your winnings in this feature.
Shoot ‘em Up
One of the great things about the Skywind portfolio is that it offers a lot of gameplay variety. It’s not just that there are a wide range of themes, but the play styles of each machine are also varied, ensure that there’s plenty of replay value for gamblers who enjoy the style of these creations. A few of the other slots titles we found interesting included:
- Rising Samurai
- Symphony of Diamonds
- God of Lightning
- Gorilla Moon
- Heart to Heart
While most of this library is made up of traditional slots, Skywind has also dipped their toes into more arcade-oriented games, the kind that many developers are creating in order to attract non-traditional gamblers to their products. In Fu Fish Jackpot, players are sent underwater to shoot everything from fish to legendary creatures in order to collect prizes. Several players can play on the same game board at once, and players can upgrade the power of their weapons by wagering more per shot.
Prizes are collected every time a gambler lands the killing blow on one of the fish. The smallest fish might only offer up a couple coins as a reward, while larger targets like rays and turtles can earn you larger prizes. The biggest payouts come from a dragon that can float across the screen, earning uses up to 888 coins if they manage to finish it off. There are plenty of special features as well, such as bubbles that can provide random multipliers and a bomb that can kill everything on the screen, potentially granting you dozens of prizes at once. It’s an incredibly entertaining style of play that feels more like a video game than a gambling machine.
A Playtech Partner
Skywind burst onto the iGaming scene in 2012 when Playtech announced a deal to license software from the firm. The agreement caught the attention of many within the industry because Skywind was owned by Teddy Sagi, who was also the founder and largest shareholder in Playtech itself. Regardless of the circumstances, however, one thing is for certain: Skywind has had an exclusive distribution deal with Playtech ever since, with many Playtech clients adding games and software from Skywind in recent years.
The developer hasn’t exclusively dealt with games, as they have built backend software as well. Their Global Management System can cover all aspects of casino management, from payment gateways and wallet integration to affiliate systems and user tracking. Not surprisingly, they also offer a platform for their content, which can stand alone or be integrated into existing systems. Interestingly, they also offer a Virtual Studio product that makes it easier to create games in HTML5. They also offer solutions for lotteries and bookmakers, including full mobile platforms.
A Quality Collection
While it may not be the largest gaming portfolio around, there’s a lot to like about Skywind’s library of games. Their slots feature excellent design both in terms of gameplay and graphics, and there’s a solid variety of options for players to choose from if they want to work their way through the selection. We also love the fact that they’ve branched out into emerging gaming areas with their new arcade-style offering. While Playtech’s own games will always be the main draw at casinos featuring their software, Skywind also has a lot to offer, and you’ll want to check them out if your favorite Playtech site includes their products.