No comic fan really wants to get to that last page, reading the final panel and closing the book.
It’s not so bad if there’s another issue coming out next week, but that doesn’t appear to be the case for Marvel slot games in the near future. Soon enough, Marvel themed slots at online casinos will be no more.
The reason for this is the acquisition of Marvel by the Walt Disney Company, a move which was already quite controversial for comic fans. Disney snaps up smaller IPs and studios left, right and centre, always leading to an inevitable alteration of favourite brands as they fall in line with Disney’s family-friendly message.
Disney and online casinos
Not all Marvel fans will know that the Walt Disney Company owns the rights to their famous comics and their characters. For the casual cinemagoer, it makes little difference- the movies get made either way. For video slots‘ fans, it means that the license issued by Marvel to developers like Playtech, allowing them to create games using these famous characters, changed hands to Disney.
Naturally, Disney is a fun, family-friendly brand and doesn’t want to be associated with gambling. This is not a sudden decision- Disney has stated that they long planned to let the licenses for these online casino games expire in due course.
This is typical of Disney, who also resist land-based casinos. The company has objected to several casinos in Florida but then casino resorts pull away a large share of tourism and conference-based revenue.
Looking back at Marvel slots
Sadly, there was no comic book hero on hand to save the slots. Playtech has pulled its Marvel content as of April 1st. This includes a huge set of very popular games, with a lot of fans, so a little walk down memory lane seems fitting.
Playtech produced games based on many Marvel figures, using their iconic images as slot symbols, from Iron Man’s helmet to the Hulk’s green fists. These included some fantastic features, too, using advanced flash animation and sound. Most of them were also gifted with a super-human 50 paylines and four progressive jackpots, so it’s no wonder they stood out. Let’s take a look at some of the hits.
The Incredible Hulk
The Hulk is one of Marvel’s most recognisable characters, thanks to a long history in comic books and on TV. First appearing in 1962, this character explored an interesting theme of duality, as within the Hulk is the mild-mannered Bruce Banner. Since being exposed to Gamma radiation, Banner turns into the Hulk when he feels threatened or angry, becoming the huge, green monster we instantly recognise.
The Playtech slot based on the Hulk had a lot of animation, really making the most of flash capabilities. The Hulk himself appeared as a Wild, a very fitting choice, roaring when he landed on the reels. From here, players could trigger the Smash Bonus and watch the Hulk do what he does best- smash! This simple idea showed that Playtech could still capture the feel of a character within the confines of a slot.
Iron Man 2 and 3
When these two slots came out, one after the other, Playtech were very clearly producing the slots based on the movies, not just a generic representation of the character. Iron Man is another comic character with a long history, who has seen several changes over time. These changes were reflected in the movies with Tony Stark updating the Iron Man suit, which in turn were reflected in the slot games.
The slots were able to use the likenesses of actors from the movies, such as Robert Downey Jr as Stark and Scarlett Johansson as Romanoff, aka Black Widow. The sound effects were ramped up, capturing the electronic noises of the Iron Man suit. The Iron Man 3 game showcased the new Mark 42 suit with its own feature round. To the left of the reels, a 3D image of the characters appeared. This was one of those games that made it clear that video slots were coming on in leaps and bounds.
This classic comic has been represented on the big screen three times now, with perhaps not the best results, yet it remains a fan favourite. Produced by the infamous Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in 1961, there are countless stories about these four heroes. After cosmic rays transformed their bodies, the team became Mr Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch and of course, the Thing.
The Playtech slot captured these characters in quintessential forms, without drawing heavily from the movies. The four characters and their powers were reflected in the feature rounds, with the most notable being Jonny Storm blazing across the reels. Each character would grant different bonuses to the player, showing that even a simple slot game can pick up on the themes and ideas in the comics.
Perhaps the biggest Playtech Marvel slot, the Avengers became very popular as the movies hit the cinemas. This team of heroes comprises Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, The Hulk and Hawkeye, with all of these characters appearing in both the movies and the slot game. A massive team-up like this cries out for epic scale battles and an equally epic slot.
This was achieved by having five features, such as Avengers Assemble which triggered when enough of the team appeared together, multiplying your stake. The Wall of Heroes has four free spin modes themed around the characters, using HD quality artwork which appeared over the reels. The quality of these games just kept going up and up.
Where do we turn now?
Sadly, these games are now gone, along with several others. We never even got a Guardians of the Galaxy game! Marvel slots are not the only ones to fall- Disney also owns Star Wars now, so slots set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away will not be renewed either. Has all hope faded?
Fortunately, Playtech and several other providers still have deals with other comic book producers, namely DC comics. Marvel’s old rival hasn’t thrown in the slot gaming towel yet, so you can play games themed around all their iconic characters- Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman and more. These come in many forms, with Batman in particular having a generic casual slot, a Dark Knight movie-based slot and even several classic 60s Batman games!
There’s more. Playtech have announced that 2017 will see new games based on DC’s Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, Justice League and more Batman titles.
This will include a new progressive jackpot network! Playtech CEO Mor Weizer said: “This is a hugely significant deal for Playtech and we’re delighted to have a wider-reaching exclusive DC film and TV-branded content licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products.
We’ve had phenomenal feedback from our licensees based on the high-quality and calibre of the DC-branded games we rolled out in 2017.”
It seems that a hero has come along for comic book slot fans, even if Marvel won’t be joining this super-team any time soon. DC-branded games will be heading to all the major online casinos, such as bgo, during Spring 2017.
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