Evolution Acquires The Edgiest Name In Slots Design, Nolimit City

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B2B gambling giant Evolution is growing bigger still. It announced today that it would acquire the unique slots developer Nolimit City.

The deal is worth an immediate €200 million ($210 million) in cash, plus additional payments contingent on performance. If maxed out, these could make the deal worth €340 million ($358 million) in total.

Evolution’s chairman, Jens von Bahr, said in a press release:

With the addition of Nolimit City to the Evolution family we extend our portfolio of truly innovative and cutting edge games from the top brands and game makers in the industry. We have followed Jonas, Emil and their team for a few years and been impressed as they have established a completely new style of slot games. I am proud that yet another of the very best minds in our industry has chosen to join the Evolution network.

As it stands, Evolution is already the world’s second-biggest gambling company by market capitalization, after Las Vegas Sands. Worth roughly $19 billion, it’s the biggest in the supplier space. For comparison, Aristocrat Leisure has a capitalization of about $15 billion, while Light & Wonder (formerly Scientific Games) and IGT are in the single-digit billions.

Nolimit City is a tiny company by comparison. However, it has carved out a niche by taking risks no other developer is willing to, with gritty themes and a stark art style that runs against the grain of mainstream slots design. In an industry where differentiation is tough to come by, the acquisition of Nolimit City seems like a relatively affordable, longshot bet for the much-larger Evolution, with the potential for a considerable payoff.

Evolution’s Impressive Catalogue of Slots Brands

In the US, the Evolution name is most closely associated with live dealer casino games. It enjoyed an effective monopoly on that space for many years and remains the dominant force even in the face of competition from Playtech.

However, many of the top slots titles in the US also come from Evolution and its subsidiaries. Most of those brands also came to Evolution by way of acquisition. Topping the list are NetEnt and Big Time Gaming.

NetEnt is responsible for several slots titles you’ll see featured prominently at most US online casinos. Examples include:

  • Divine Fortune
  • Gonzo’s Quest
  • Starburst

Big Time Gaming, meanwhile, is responsible for the popular Megaways, Megapays and Megaclusters mechanics. These feature prominently in BTG’s own games but have also started appearing in those of other Evolution brands.

No Rainbows and Leprechauns for Nolimit City

At the moment, most American players will be unfamiliar with Nolimit City’s games. To the best of our knowledge at Bonus, the developer doesn’t currently have a partnership with any online casinos serving regulated markets in the US.

Evolution, on the other hand, has a deal with almost everyone. Whether that means Nolimit City’s games will start appearing stateside is yet to be determined. If they do, however, the company’s approach could work out very well with at least a subset of US gamblers.

Nolimit City’s style is, in a word, dark. The color palette of its games’ graphics tends to be muted, and their soundtracks moody. Its themes run a wide gamut but include things other studios wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. Topping the list in that regard is Remember Gulag, which is precisely as bleak as it sounds. There’s even a licensed title based on the Coen Brothers’ True Grit (2010).

The company’s games aren’t all prisons and gun duels. However, Nolimit City’s grittiness shows through even in its lighter themes. For instance, Kitchen Drama: Sushi Mania features adorable cartoon-character food items, but winning combinations get sacrificed to the chef’s knife. It’s cute, but darkly cute.

These games might not go over well with a traditional slots audience. They do, however, seem meant to appeal to a younger crowd raised on similarly gritty video games. They might therefore make a good fit for the likes of DraftKings Casino or FanDuel, whose audiences skew younger and more male than a traditional casino.

Cartoon carnage in Kitchen Drama: Sushi Mania
About the Author

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon is the Casino News Managing Editor for Bonus. He’s a former semiprofessional poker player and has been writing about online gambling professionally since 2014. Prior to his current position, he was Managing Editor at Online Poker Report and, before that, the GameIntel Poker Update, a subscription newsletter for industry executives. Alex provides insightful content on the regulated online casino and poker industries, with an emphasis on legislation, regulation, responsible gambling and business strategy. His writing about poker has earned him multiple nominations for the American Poker Awards over the years.

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