The question as to who’s better when it comes to America versus Australia pops up in so many realms of life. Of course, we’ve got our spelling differences like the color (US) versus color (AUS), recognize versus recognize, center versus center, and gray versus the local color grey to name but a few. Then there are differences in how we call basic things. Like in America one has friends, while here in Australia we have mates. Their use of Barbie is more often a doll, while here it’s a way to eat. And believe us when we say, if you claimed to get pissed on a night out in New York, it would mean a rather different (smelly) thing. Which is better? Only perhaps the British know! But that’s all just semantics you might say.
We also have different accents, different dollars, a different government system, and even different gambling laws. The list goes on. And when you look at it like that, the comparison can legitimately cover almost every aspect of life. Some may be qualitative, while others are incidental and have little impact if any at all.
A question such as American vs. Australian pokies developers – and their most popular games – seems to be somewhere in between. Because as we’ll soon see, each of these countries has bred excellent pokies developers with universal appeal, and as expected, a clear home-field advantage where they persevere. Hence, even upon close analysis (which we’re about to do), there may be no clear victor, at least in terms of the comparison game.
A bit of pokies development history
With pokies being such a popular pastime, it’s hard to imagine life without. Yet, so it was until somewhere around 1890 give or take a few years when a man by the name of Charles Fey transformed gaming as we know it with the invention of the Liberty Bell – i.e. what is recognized by most as the first mechanical pokies machine. With three spinning reels, five symbols, and automated payouts, the Liberty Bell format is basically the classic pokies machine. It quickly became popular in the San Francisco area where Fey lived, and the concept spread so successfully throughout the continental US, that poor Fey simply couldn’t keep up. Plus, he hadn’t gotten a patent (a bad bet indeed!) and his concept was quickly overtaken by others. That meant while he got credit and a place in the books, others went on to profit.
The rest, you might say, is history. Within around a decade or so, the pokies machine had made its way overseas, to all corners of the earth, including here in Australia.
Differences in pokies laws in America versus Australia
In making an assessment of American versus Australian pokies developers it’s also important to note a small bit about the law. That is, in America, gambling is legal in many places. But only in land-based casinos. For the most part, online pokies are not yet legal in America. To our advantage here in Australia, we can legally play pokies both online and offline. That, of course, means we have more access to even begin undertaking this sort of comparison. While this difference in legality hasn’t necessarily curbed American companies’ venture into online pokies development, it does put a damper on their natural audience’s ability to reach their products and could influence how their games have been made.
American pokies developers – The first side of the equation
With pokies having been created in America, it would seem obvious that the US is home to some pretty serious pokies developers. And this is true. US-based pokies developers have created massively popular pokies machines for the casinos of Las Vegas, Atlantic City. and other gambling destinations throughout the country. Their popularity, however, does not end there, easily transcending borders to Macau, Monte Carlo, and of course Australia as well.
So who are the big players in terms of American pokies, or as they call themselves slots developers? These four are the ones you are most likely familiar with, though of course there are many more.
International Game Technology (IGT) – This company has a rather long and complicated history of acquisition and reinvention. But at its core, the International Game Technology name, better recognized by most gamblers as IGT, is one of the best known and loved to pokies players the world over. So while this once US-based company is now more of a London-based entity, it’s hard to change our hearts, and we’ll honestly likely see it as American, wherever its actual ownership or offices lie, for a long time to come. Besides being the number one pokies manufacturer in the entire world (acquired in its day for a total of $6.4 billion!), IGT is also home to many of the world’s favorite pokies games. The foremost amongst them is the Cleopatra machine and the Major Money game. Or for those who like the thrill of a progressive jackpot, Megabucks nicknamed “the richest slot of all” is by far the winner, followed not far behind by the massively playing Wheel of Fortune and Power Bucks machines.
Bally – Bally Gaming International, founded in 1968 is one of the biggest pokies makers in the world. Based in Nevada (where else?), and now owned by Scientific Games Corporation it has a rather long and complicated history as well. But what is certain is that Bally video poker machines are amongst the most popular particularly in the US. It’s a first big hit is considered to be the Game Maker, the first touchscreen machine released in 1994. After that came the popular progressive pokies Trillion and Hot Shot Progressive as well as Cash Wizard and Quick Hit.
WMS Gaming – Although not as big or well-known as IGT or Bally, WMS Gaming has carved a respectable niche for itself. A rather late-comer to the pokies development game this Chicago-based company first gained widespread fanfare in the mid-1990s with the release of its Reel ‘em In video pokies machine and later Jackpot Party Boom and the Filthy Rich game. This leading position was further secured a few years later by its Monopoly-themed games, which add a participatory level to pokies gameplay.
Aruze Gaming – Another popular pokies developer based in Nevada, Aruze Gaming is steadily climbing to secure its place as one of the biggest companies to serve the global casino industry. In addition to exceptional video and mechanical slots, Aruze Gaming is known for its table games and other casino related products. Popular games you might have encountered include Apex Tiger, Sizzling Wheel Mighty Tiger, and the Fu Lai Cai Lai and Supreme Dragon games recently launched in Macau.
Australian pokies developers – The second side of the equation
While pokies were of course invented in the United States, local developers began to close the development gap a few decades later. In time, we not only surpassed American’s love of the game – playing at a far more frequent rate – but we also came up with our own home-grown developers, whose pokies games are considered true superstar’s here.
If you’ve ever played pokies at a local casino or pub, then you certainly know who we mean. There are the original big-time pokies developer Aristocrat Leisure and its almost as popular spinoff Ainsworth Game Technology, each of which is worthy of a few more words.
Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. –When locals think of pokies, and especially if asked to list their top games, they may well begin with Aristocrat Leisure and its catalog of games. This makes sense in a landscape in which pokies and this developer were once more or less synonymous. Today the second-largest manufacturer of pokies machines in the world (after IGT as detailed above) and first in Australia, Sydney-based Aristocrat Leisure also has the distinction of being the first Australian pokies manufacturer period. Its flagship product back in 1953 was the Clubman machine, which was soon followed by the better performing Clubmaster in 1955. While the US has Charles Fey, hence, we have Joe Heyward, an Aristocrat worker who came up with the original. And although it took us nearly half a century to get in on the pokies development game, Aristocrat once it got going quickly closed the market gap with its exciting, feature-rich machines, including the absolutely unique Reel Power system, in which players are able to purchase reels rather than lines in search of a win. Although the Clubman was one for the history books, engraving its place in our hearts forever, the best-loved Aristocrat game is likely the Egyptian-themed Queen of the Nile. Other popular titles include More Chilli and the progressive jackpot games Jackpot Carnival and Cash Express. In recent years the Lightning Link has also become an international hit, making a massive impression on players in casinos across six continents.
Ainsworth Game Technology – Essentially a spinoff of Aristocrat Leisure, Ainsworth Game Technology has managed to carve its own rightful place in the world of pokies machine development since it was founded in 1995 by none other than the founder of Aristocrat, Len Ainsworth. While that may seem a strange thing to have done, the business has its ways, and it’s proven worthwhile as Aristocrat has become a household name ever since the release of its first machine, the ever-popular Ambassador played on an extra big screen. Today Ainsworth’s land-based pokies machines can be found in casinos throughout Australia, and the world. It has a nice showing of themed games, interactive games, and jackpot games in its repertoire. And more importantly, it’s developed a stellar international reputation for innovation, entertainment, and excellent performance, i.e. characteristics of which we Australians can be proud. In addition, Ainsworth has also been making strong progress in the online pokies space now boasting hundreds of variants of titles that are available for play in dozens of online casinos, and have attained the coveted stamp of approval from the UK Gambling Commission.
Online pokies development – The third factor to consider
Pretty much all pokies developers and casino game developers alike these days, also have a foot in the online development space. This makes sense as it is a natural crossover, allowing the developers to leverage existing games in more than one way. Plus, players who are already familiar with a game from the casino will be happy to see it online as well, making it a good recipe for success.
That means both the American and Australian pokies developers that we outlined above are pretty much similarly positioned when it comes to online pokies as well. One small difference is the pokies developers that exist only in the online space. Since the US has more stringent online gambling laws, there seem to be more local Australian companies trying to earn their slice of the online pokies pie.
So who’s better at pokies development? America or Australia?
The truth is, this comparison of American vs. Australian pokies developers is not a zero-sum game. There are huge players on both continents. And both countries have proven to be exceptional at pokies development over the years, creating games that gain international fame and enduring popularity thanks to their outstanding graphics, user experience, bonus features, and jackpot prizes alike. As such, there is no real answer to the versus element of the question. All we can say is that there are winners on both continents. And at the end of the day, that’s a good thing, because more high performing pokies from different minds and mindsets always makes for more fun.
The only real difference is that here in Australia you’re totally free to play pokies at online casinos, while our American counterparts have to make an effort to get out to a local casino. If anything, that is the true Australian pokies advantage.
Besides, the only real judge in the comparison when it comes down to it, is you. After all, you want to find a pokies machine you love. And we are assuming, you don’t really care where it comes from, nor should you, beyond a matter of general interest.
So go ahead and explore the many pokies games around, both online and offline. Wager, spin, collect and spin some more. There is so much opportunity and excitement waiting out there. And you can sample it all.