Observant industry show-goers at ICEi and the Microgaming Casinos stand last month would have noticed an intriguing but fleeting insert in the large-screen presentation of visuals from the gambling software company's top games - the iconic inscribed ring from Tolkien's world famous Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Microgaming staff on the show stand wouldn't reveal more than the fact that a new branded game agreement with a major film studio had been signed, but this week all was revealed in a press release from the prolific games developer.
The deal was a multi-year licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, to create a series of cutting-edge, graphic rich video slots, based on the popular The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, for Internet gaming for adults in countries where online gaming is permitted, the software developer announced.
The agreement gives Microgaming permission to develop online video slot games using animation material, themes and characters from the motion pictures The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
This week a company spokesman said that the agreement with Warner Bros. illustrated Microgaming's commitment to license the right brands, at the right time.
"It is a strategic and timely decision to secure exclusive, online video slot game rights to a trilogy that generated $3 billion in worldwide box office and was nominated for a total of 30 Academy Awards; of which they won 17, including Best Picture," the spokesman said.
Roger Raatgever, the chief exec at Microgaming said, "We're excited about creating state-of-the-art video slots from the best movie trilogy of the decade. We look forward to bringing The Lord of the Rings into the online gaming sphere, where our expertise in game quality and speed to market will ensure its success.
"The Lord of the Rings has a huge entrenched fan base with over 97 percent awareness of the film franchise, as well as phenomenal and unprecedented home video success."
Not content with such a major announcement, it is believed that Microgaming will shortly be releasing its regular monthly tranche of new games, which is said to include three video slots.
Winter Gold is a 5 reel 10 pay-line slot themed in time for the Winter Olympics due to start in Vancouver, British Columbia on February 12.. Despite the relatively low number of pay-lines where anything between 15 and 50 can be regarded as the norm, the main game offers major achievable payouts. Winter Gold also features some pretty hectic bonus action; the Spin the Bonus Wheel round offers some worthwhile rewards. There are additional opportunities to virtually participate in one of four key Winter Olympics events - speed skating, the biathlon, bobsleighing and ski jumping, where players can win up to 24 000 credits in the bonus round.
Valentines Day this month will again be marked with an appropriate games launch from MGS; last year it was the Burning Desire slot, and this year it's a new video slot titled Love Potion. Beaus, beauties cherubs and other symbols of romance and undying love populate the reels in this game, where payouts of up to 62 500 are possible. There are two scatter symbols that trigger two different and interactive bonus games redolent with spins and multipliers up to 5x
Hot Air is the third new slot, which is themed on an aerial adventure aboard a hot air balloon that has sky high achievable prizes of up to 155 000 credits. This is a 30 pay-line game with the usual generous MGS helpings of free spins, bonuses, wilds, scatters and multipliers. Watch out in particular for the pilot, who is wild and can trigger triple payouts.