Aristocrat Leisure Limited is a publicly-traded company in the Australian Stock Exchange Market, having gone public in 1996 when it completed its Initial Public Offer (IPO). The company’s history dated from 1953 when it was established.
Based in Australia, it has headquarters in Sydney, where it has grown into one of the global gaming technologies. With a clear vision and expansion path, the company has spread its presence in all corners of the world. It has marketing and development offices in Japan, South Africa, United States, and Russia.
Through years and generations, Aristocrat has invested vast resources to provide leading-edge electronic gaming machines (EGM), distribution of online game contents, manufacturing of interactive video terminal systems, and the creation of complete gaming solutions in Australia and worldwide. Aristocrat slots online for real money can be played with a juicy no deposit bonus. Playable online with no download requirements, these slot machines can equally be played just for fun with no registration. There are insightful leads on where to play online free games with tips to win big.
Through its journey of producing classic pokie machines, Aristocrat adapts its production lines to the realities of the demand side. In the mid-1990s, the company launched the Hyperlink system, a network that links all the Aristocrat jackpot games. The Reel Power system allows players to purchase reels instead of lines and win combinations of classic game arrangements.
Aristocrat has focused on the production of fully mobile-optimized games. Most of its games are freely compatible with Android devices, iOS mobile devices, and Microsoft devices, as well. Lately, Aristocrat is leveraging the idea of microtransactions in its free games.
Microtransactions, often referred to as in-game purchases, are relatively small, online purchases made within video games to unlock extra content. The acquisitions also allow you to access game-related items and the in-game virtual currency. Microtransactions are a creative way of generating revenue through what is otherwise perceived as free-to-play games. Through microtransaction features, players can access high-quality graphics, but at a cost.
Aristocrat’s Big Fish Games Virtual Chips Case
Aristocrat’s expansion plan has seen the Sydney-based company acquire gaming software companies in multi-million dollar deals. For example, in 2017, it bought Big Fish Games social casino game maker, with a deal worth $990 million.
With the deal inching closer to $1 billion, perhaps, the expected huge returns from social games informed the decision. The company’s financial as of September that preceded the deal indicated that Aristocrat had generated $93 million from social casino games, which was a massive leap of 63% from the previous year results.
The acquisition of Big Fish would see Aristocrat generating revenues way above $1.1 billion. The deal pushed the company to position 2 in the worldwide publishing of social casino games. Additionally, Aristocrat will enjoy matchless traffic owing to the Big Fish rich portfolio of games. Its premium mobile paid games to enjoy 18% bookings, social casino games, 42% while social games enjoy 40% bookings. The company’s all-time hit, Big Fish casino features heavily in the to 5 US grossing apps.
Even before the ink on the deal dried, the acquisition of Big Fish from Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) has been faced with a few legal challenges. The aggrieved player, Manassa Thimmegowda, after playing Big Fish casino for two years, allegedly claimed to have lost over $3,000 through the purchase of virtual chips.
A case filed in the Us District Court for the Western District of Washington, Thimmegowda, sought legal redress from CDI, Aristocrat, and Big Fish Games. The case came hot on the heels of another t US Court of Appeal ruled that Big Fish Free-to-Play games were part of illegal gambling in Washington State.
The protracted legal battles led to the declaration of Big Fish virtual chips as ‘things of value’ by the judicial panel. That Big Fish would violate Washington’s Recovery of money lost at Gambling and Consumer Protection Act if it does not redress the Plaintiff.
As a law-abiding entity, Aristocrat agreed to settle the stalemate through an in-principle agreement $155 million to cover the two cases that had been lodged against their virtual chips purchase. Aristocrat agreed to pay $31 million, while the remainder $124 million to be paid by the Big Fish previous owner, CDI. The agreement was reached after a fruitful mediation process among Aristocrat, Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI), and the Plaintiffs.
Learning a Lesson: Microtransactions in Online Slots
If you are a regular player of social or free to play casino games, you may have heard of ‘pay to win’ or ‘loot boxes.’ Like Microtransactions, these features involve real money and an intrinsic allusion to chance. This is why some jurisdictions have labeled Microtransactions in free online slots as constituting an element of gambling.
Microtransactions have been with us from as early as 2006 when Bethesda Softworks released The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for PC and Xbox 360. It allowed players to buy low-cost points and then use the ends to make purchases.
Microtransactions, also known as in-game purchases, are sizeable web-based purchases made within video games to unlock or allow access to extra content in terms of virtual items and the in-game virtual currency. While free to play games are meant to be free, microtransaction features ensure they generate revenue as people would always want to unpack the extra features.
For games like Candy Crush for smartphones Smash Hit, Fortnite for PCs, consoles, smartphones and tablets, microtransaction features allow you to access cutting-edge graphics at a reduced price. Players have the room to decide on the amount they want to spend and try it with different games before settling on their favorites.
Though microtransaction features have been lauded as flexible ways of accessing your favorite games, they have been equally backlashes by players who feel that they are playing an inferior game relative to players that spend money on the game.
The ‘pay to win’ features allow players to access virtual items or points that help them have the edge over the game. They could lead to overspending as players are keen to buy more points to beat the game.
‘Loot Boxes’ is another aspect of Microtransactions in online slots. This is an in-game purchase in which the game’s virtual content is revealed only after the purchase. The item purchased may be valuable, depending on the random chance.
While some have argued in support of the in-game purchases and microtransactions in general, others have likened it to actual gambling. The comparative lines have resulted in the ethical weighing balance of the two.
From a practical approach, it is ethical to include microtransactions features into specified games. The feature allows you to pay for what you want. A pricing model is developed around this concept, where players have the option to extra payments for extra content.
An ethical microtransaction feature should consist of in-game purchases, which are rewarding with an element that would lead to addiction. The completeness of the game and its satisfactory levels should not be affected by the extra purchased content. The additional content should be comparably appealing to make players want to buy it and enjoy value for money. Developers of in-game purchase features must stay away from the temptation to create compulsion-inducing psychological tricks with a keen eye to improving purchases.
From an ethical point of view, the purchased extra content should not make the game less enjoyable to players who are not willing to buy it. It should not confer an extra advantage to the purchaser. Besides, players should not be punished for failing to purchase the additional content.
Apart from generating extra income, companies benefit from increased traffic on their products. It only allows players to pay for what they want, and offer a free-to-play round before spending your cash on the extra content.
With slot developers making the use of microtransactions features in the pokies, online slots are more likely to be labeled as real money games. There are free versions. However, in case you want to win real money payouts, you have to purchase extra features by way of adjusting the real money.
Aristocrat Slots for Real Money
Across the world, Aristocrat is one of the biggest producers of gaming software. The innovative workers and the creative approach through technologically advanced methodologies has seen the company push the quality bars a notch higher. It has over 200 casino games and an own delivery system, System 7000 and Oasis 360, which allow real-time tracking of all gaming events, hence players are secure and safe whenever enjoying their games.
The slot game characteristics, like in video games, have equally experienced a change owing to the introduction of microtransactions features. However, the players’ perspectives in video games and slot games remain different across these types of games. For example, in Aristocrat’s
- Zorro Pokie with a betting range of between £0.01 and £175 per spin, you can choose to buy an in-game feature and activate the random instant prizes feature during the Tornado round;
- Queen of the Nile pokie, instead of waiting to activate the 1,500× jackpot via the 5 wilds appearing on a pay line, you can be offered an instant in-game feature to purchase and trigger the prize at once. Also, through extra purchasing of specific features, you can directly benefit from 20 free spins through the microtransaction shortcut.
The idea of virtual cash in online slots also stems from the idea of microtransactions. Virtual cash comes in the form of tokens that are afforded to players. They could either enable you to play for free or be used to purchase certain in-game features that eventually allow you to access bonus features or other specified features of the game. In Aristocrat slot games like Miss Kitty, Queen of the Nile, Wild Panda, and there are two exclusive options. You either play the game for free in the demo version or play the game for real money by setting the betting range with regards to the preset betting ranges. In the Queen of the Nile pokie, the betting range is 25 pence up to a maximum of £50 per spin, while More Chili has a betting range of £0.01 up to a max bet option of £50 per spin.
Microtransactions can be understood through the bonus buy bonus feature introduced by the Big Time Gaming on its trademark feature drop White Rabbit game. Mainly, the bonus buys bonus option allows you to collect tokens from lowering the price tag of the feature you intend to buy. If you pocket enough tokens, you could even play the bonus for free. You also can find Feature Buy or Feature Drop slots. They refer to slot machines in which players pay a large fee to cheat and take a shortcut to the lucrative bonus rounds and the highest paying prizes of the game. It is achieved by offering an in-game feature for players to purchase. The cost of the feature depends on the different games in question. It ranges from 25 to 100 times your stake. Instead of waiting to get at least 3 scatters to trigger a bonus, you can opt for instant activation of bonus at 100× your original bets. Nonetheless, Aristocrat does not offer these features to its games.
Casino apps operate in a highly regulated global environment in terms of microtransactions or in-app purchases. There are often compliance challenges due to the restrictions on platforms like Google Store or the App Store for iOS. In regions like the United Kingdom, Google Play restricts gambling apps to only domestic apps, Ireland, and France.
To have your casino app on the App Store or Google Play Store, you must be transparent on how the real money gambles, winnings, and losses are used. If the game is just for fun, with no real money stakes, this should be stated upfront. In the case of money prizes, it should not be through betting or gambling. This is informed by the fact that some casinos award winners using individual entries into sweepstakes or specific giveaways instead of converting in-game currencies into real cash.
Microtransactions in video games like Pokémon Go, Star Wars: Battlefront 2, and League of Legends by Riot differ from slot games. Unlike the exclusive free play or real money round in slots, a video game microtransaction model allows the player to purchase virtual items to enjoy extra features, including the ability to win real cash or high-end video graphics.
With the video gaming global industry ranking in over $36 billion according to the 2017 figures from Entertainment Software Association (ESA), and the NPD Group, a relatively significant percentage of the revenue is attributed to in-game purchases and the loot box features across games.
Developers of video games and slots with microtransaction systems, create games with the aim of free-to-play, yet aptly incorporate in-game purchase features to unlock more of them. The ideal has received varied responses from gamers. Some are in support, while others argue microtransactions are taking away the free play features from their screens. Here are some reactions:
- Microtransactions help reduce the high level of piracy, giving a major blow to developers and the traditional retail model. This will revitalize the otherwise dead PC gaming market that has been previously affected by pirated games.
- Most players argue that microtransaction is more transparent compared to regular purchases on retail outlets. A player is given the option of choosing between several features. The properties and the price of each item can be compared as opposed to a retail game, which comes as a whole package.
- In terms of value for money, gamers argue that virtual assets’ utility is only limited to a single game and cannot be transferred to another game. Virtual assets are mostly rented than bought; hence a comparison has to be drawn between the expected gained utility within the time the asset is bought.
- Some gamers argue that instead of limiting them to a time-based rental period, it is possible to offer the game features on a use-based approach. The durability system could be ideal as used in hack-and-slash RPGs. A player just buys repair kits for fixing armors and weapons. The option could come with premium items that, however, deteriorate as you use them, as opposed to renting.
- Developers of microtransaction features might be driven by the notion that cheaper goods might lead to unnecessary purchases hence driving up their sales. In as much as microtransactions have low prices, the discrete values saved on a single purchase is small to the extent that it might not convince non-paying players into buying the extra features.
- To avoid this shortcoming, gamers propose that an investment model should be adopted such that the player invests in the in-game currency and then get a guaranteed return on his investments.
How Microtransactions has Changed Our Style of Gaming
In-game pay features were meant to rope in more low-budget gamers. Though the mission has been greatly achieved, the development has changed our conceptualization of video gaming. In games like Evony, you have to pay a small fee to chat with other players. It may discourage some of your friends from playing hence limited social connections while playing. To a greater extent, it is counterproductive as having online players is believed to motivate other players to play more.
Some gamers also view the EA (Electronic Arts), microtransaction features as unjustified ways of making extra cash. In the earlier gaming days, the company would add extra downloadable content (DLC) to games like the Call of Duty or Battlefield. It was a creative way of offering new goodies, maps, modes, and other features to players who have invested over $60 as the game launch price.
In recent days the focus is shifting, especially on multiplayer games like Battlefield 5, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Star Wars: Battlefront 2. While players are given access to new maps, they have to cough extra cash on the game’s pay-to-win microtransaction feature.
A revolutionary feature like Microtransactions in video games comes with inherent advantages given the diverse interests among players and developers.
- Cosmetic microtransaction systems in games have attracted new gamers to the game as they benefit from new rewards.
- Developers of multiplayer games have been lauded for incorporating microtransaction features that help to shift the balance of competition.
- Microtransactions have proved to be fruitful sources of revenue for developers. The free to play games have an in-play feature at an extra cost that helps the companies to stay afloat while creating more games for players.
- Microtransactions make the game more enjoyable as the player wants to unlock what is in store for them in the play-to-win round.
Going by the extra revenues generated by gaming developers, it is highly unlikely that microtransactions will be dropped. Companies like Activision Blizzard recorded earnings way above $4 billion riding on the success of microtransaction feature sales in 2017. While there are efforts to legislate on the regulation of loot boxes, some jurisdictions like Denmark, UK, and New Zealand have given them the legal green light by arguing that they do not have an element of gambling.