In December 2020, Microgaming’s ‘minion studios’ Triple Edge Studios and All41 Studios both came out with a new slot. Not noteworthy. Each slot also came out with a brand-new game mechanic: Hyper Hold™ with Triple Edge Studio’s Assassin Moon, and Hyper Cluster™ in the Alchemy Fortunes slot by All41 Studios.
That made me excited. I like innovative slots, I like when developers try something weird. Before you know it, you’ve got the next Cascading Rolls or Megaways hype. Not today.
After playing the games, it turns out that both features were all hype, and no Hyper.
Fluffed-up Recycled Features
In short, you knew about Hyper Hold™ and Hyper Cluster™ years before Microgaming did. Hyper Hold™ is the confusing name for a common jackpot bonus, which is unlocked by certain symbols on the reels with a cash amount (usually a multiple of your bet). Getting six of these symbols on the reels gives you 3 re-spins to get more of the same symbol, while the rest of the rolls are empty. Landing at least one symbol resets the re-spins to 3, and when you land no more new symbols, all cash amounts add up to the bonus. Sometimes, some of these symbols hold jackpots, too.
Hyper Cluster™ is possibly a worse “invention”, since the rest of the world knows this mechanism simply as a ‘cluster’: a group of five or more of the same symbols in a (usually) square grid of (usually) 49 symbols together. You’ve seen it in Reactoonz, Gemix, and dozens of clones. If you’ve seen it in the slot Alchemy Fortunes, it was called a Hyper Cluster™. I spent an hour playing the game to see when the ‘Hyper’ part would show up.
These last two “innovations” struck me, because they were introduced in two slots published about a week apart. But these are not the first offenses. If you’ve ever been promised an exciting Rolling Reels™ feature, you know the disappointment of finding out it’s a dumber name for Cascading Reels.
The Problem With Microgaming’s “Innovative Features”
Now, I don’t think it’s bad to use proven concepts in new slots. Not every slot can be innovative and weird. Hell, I think it should be required for any new developing studio to start out with an Irish-themed slot, an Egyptian-themed Book of… slot, and a slot with fancily designed fruit symbols – they’re popular staples for a reason.
But don’t pretend you’ve found something new. On their website, Triple Edge Studios presents the HyperHold™ feature as follows,
“Introducing a new HyperHold™ brand of games based on a very popular land based mechanic.”Someone who’s never visited an online casino, presumably.
A popular land based mechanic? You don’t say. Also a popular mechanic on the internet for years, which all your players know, but you seem to be oblivious to. In fact, before you read about the “introduction” of this amazing feature Triple Edge Studios has finally brought to online players, you can read that they make “Innovative Industry Leading Games”.
And stop trademarking these names, too. Everyone outside of the Microgaming world uses the common names: Cascading Reels, clusters, and ‘jackpot feature’ (I’ll admit, that last one could use a proper name, but it sure isn’t going to be Hyper Hold™).
I imagine there are memos going around at the Microgaming offices where you’re reminded of the $5 penalty for using the ‘unofficial names’ – “we paid a lot for these trademarks, and if the rest of the world won’t use them, at least we can.”
They probably use ‘Sticky Streamers™’ (what you’d call tape) to hang those memos around their desks.
Microgaming, You Don’t Need This
Please, Microgaming, stop bullshitting yourself and your players. Go make great slots. You’re Microgaming. You have the world’s best progressive jackpots. Amazing licenses. A great network.
Microgaming is becoming the fun and rich uncle that always bought you the greatest gifts. But one year, they give you one of those crappy 100-in-1 arcade games you hook up to your TV, because they don’t realize it’s not an actual game console. They just thought they found a great deal on “one of those Eggs Boxes you kids like”.
So, let’s stop getting silly trademarks and get back to making slots that break the internet. Deal?
P.S. So before I could even publish this post, Microgaming heard me and came out with a Megaways slot (Shamrock Holmes) with a decent extra and the very innovative Incan Adventure. My point about the nonsense trademarks still stands, but I’m glad to see I’m being heard.