When online gambling companies think about where to expand their operations, they often look towards markets in Asia. While Internet casinos and other forms of iGaming are well established in Europe and North America, they’re just starting to become popular in Asian markets like China, Indonesia, and the Philippines, and most experts expect that these nations – along with others like Japan and India – will be were the industry grows most quickly in the years to come.
Despite these projections, relatively few major software developers have headquartered themselves in Asia, with most of the big companies instead developing games or alternative platforms for their customers there as a side project. But there are exceptions out there. For instance, Spade Gaming is a company that bases itself in the Philippines and has a number of other offices in nations like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and China.
Given their location, the company has naturally focused on creating games for an Asian clientele, offering up over 100 different games in a variety of currencies and languages. This has positioned the company to become one of the prominent developers in all of Asia, with the potential to expand to other parts of the world in the future.
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Unique, Regionalized Collection of Fascinating Games
A quick look at the library of games that have been produced by Spade Gaming makes it obvious that this is a portfolio designed by developers who are based in Asia and are looking for local players to enjoy their products. This isn’t just because of the choice of languages, but also in terms of the themes used in many of the games, which are distinctive to the area. The art style is also native to the region, as you’ll see lots of cultural and historic icons included in artwork.
But rather than get hung up on where these games come from, we’d rather talk about the gameplay elements in some of the games offered in the collection. There are more than 60 slots in total, many of which cover themes and play styles that will be familiar to users the world over.
Let’s start with a game we couldn’t pass up testing: Pocket Mon Go, a clear effort to capitalize on the astounding success of the Pokemon Go mobile game. Filled with bright, colorful graphics that look like they could have come out of a Nintendo game – in particular, the music and interface reminded us a lot of the Wii – this 243 ways game lets you win by connecting your favorite little monsters from left to right in any combination of positions you can imagine.
You’ll notice right away that most of the symbols look like slightly altered versions of your favorite Pokemon, and the wild symbol bears a striking resemblance to a trainer you may know as Ash. One of the cool things about this game is the way it plays with the theme of evolving your creatures: most of the standard symbols have two forms, and the more credits you play for, the more of these symbols appear in their evolved, higher-paying forms.
In addition, you can take part in a free spins game if you hit three or more scatters (which, again, look just a bit like Pikachu). During these spins, you won’t see any of the lower-paying card rank symbols, making it much more likely that you’ll see big wins. A jackpot system is also in place, where the more credits you play for, the better the chances you’ll have of hitting a legendary symbol that will award an additional prize.
Many of the machines in the collection are based on various cultures, such as Japan Fortune. This is part of the World Wonders series, and there are many different games that explore various regions of the globe. This is a 30-line, five-reel machine that is set against a serene temple set in the Japanese wilderness. Players can match geishas, temples, and some less distinctively Japanese symbols like fortune cookies on their way to collecting large prizes.
Several special features also exist to spice things up. A free spins game come with a bonus of expanded, sticky wilds (in the form of an imposing sumo wrestler) and can give you up to 100 free plays. When you play for the full 30 lines, you’ll also have the opportunity to find your way into the World Wonders jackpot round, where you can earn yourself a shot at the whole jackpot or a portion of it when you see three World Wonders symbols on the screen.
Not all of these games are that complex. Golf Champions celebrates a popular pastime, setting the game against a lush course while asking gamblers to match balls, clubs, carts, and shoes – all of the trappings of this great sport. There are three different scatters out there on the reels, each of which can earn you entry into a bonus round in which you’ll pick your clubs and play for a big prize. What most interested us about this game, however, is that despite having five reels, it is just a five-line game, a very rare combination. However, there are still plenty of ways to win, as you can earn prizes both left-to-right and right-to-left.
These titles give a great look into what you can expect to find in the Spade Gaming slots collection. A few more of the games that you might want to check out are:
- 168 Fortunes
- Space Monkey
- Golden Whale
- Master Chef
- Dragon Gold
- Wong Choy
- The Curse of the Magic Hammer
- Emperor Gate
Because Spade offers up a complete casino experience for their clients, there’s a lot more than just slot machines in their portfolio. When it comes to table games, you’ll see a mix of casino classics and some local favorites that you wouldn’t find in a European or US-focused site. Sure, European Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack, Caribbean Poker and even Sic Bo are popular no matter where you might play. But these other titles are certainly designed with locals in mind:
- Dragon Tiger
- Hulu Cock
- Lucky Cups
Video poker is also represented here, though there are only a few titles to choose from. Jacks or Better and Face the Ace are offered in versions that offer multi-handed play with up to 50 hands at a time, while Tens or Better and Joker Poker are also included, though only in single hand formats.
Finally, there is a selection of options that are included under an Arcade tab, which serves as a hodgepodge of casual and parlor offerings. Some of these are familiar virtual betting games, where you can wager in simulated horse, dog, or bicycle races, of instance.
Others are a bit more unorthodox. Take, for instance, Shinobi Hamster. In this frankly bizarre game, you’ll be playing a version of Whack-a-Mole in which you’re trying to match three prizes of the same size before hitting three “fail” symbols. This is entirely a game of luck, one that’s very similar to playing a scratch off card. But the weird theme and unique way of revealing the results makes it a bit more entertaining that these games usually manage to pull off.
Making Strides in Asia, Still Unknown Elsewhere
At the moment, you won’t find Spade Gaming anywhere outside of Asia – but that’s to be expected given the aim of their games. The sites where you’ll find this collection are generally housed in the Philippines and are aimed at players in China and other Asian nations, regions that are often underserved by casinos that are hosted from other parts of the world.
This means that you won’t see this company’s products on any of the sites hosted by the truly big name operators in the industry, at least at this point in time. Many of these games are thematically broad enough that they could easily be of interest to users around the world, and they are all available in English, which definitely leaves that open as a possibility in the future.
Surprisingly, we haven’t seen Spade show up at any of the major conferences or trade shows like ICE or G2E, though we expect this to change (at least in terms of regional shows) in the near future. Their lack of international profile may also help explain why we haven’t seen the company nominated for any awards, despite their large and interesting library of games.
A Collection We Expect to See More Of
Spade Gaming has found their own niche in the online gambling marketplace, and it is one that they are doing a good job of filling. There are few high quality software developers who cater directly to Asian markets, and their attention to the needs of players in Asia really shows. These are games designed by people who know exactly what their players want, rather than additional side projects that are something of an afterthought for a firm based on Europe or the Americas.
Right now, only a limited number of sites carry this collection, but we expect them to find their way into more casinos as operators in the region look for a more extensive collection of slots and other games that offer up exactly what their users want. If you’ve been looking for a true Asian gaming experience, then Spade Gaming delivers it about as well as anyone in the industry.