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If there is one company we can thank more than any other for the rise in the popularity of online slots since 2012 or so, it's the Swedish slots experts NetEnt. This company rose from being online casino also rans to become the cream of the online slots crop, thanks to its range of stunning, high-quality '3D' online slots. No other company – aside perhaps from Betsoft – has yet come close to matching the wonderful slots created by NetEnt over the last few years.
We're constantly reviewing the latest NetEnt slots, so be sure to come back!
Learn here about NetEnt slots
The history of NetEnt – short for Net Entertainment – goes back a lot further than many people suspect. The company was founded in 1996 in Stockholm, Sweden, and for years they managed to trundle along happily releasing casino games such as blackjack, roulette and baccarat, plus the occasional slot.
NetEnt themselves are an offshoot of a very famous Swedish slot machine manufacturer named Cherry, who were founded in the early 1970s. Cherry were handed a major blow when Sweden banned slot machines in the 1980s, so instead began to export machines to Eastern Europe. When the internet came along in the mid 1990s, one guy at Cherry named Pontus Lindwall recognised the potential of the internet for online gambling. Lindwall started NetEnt with backing from Cherry and an investment firm called Kinnevik.
NetEnt – the king of '3D' slots
NetEnt's rise up the casino rankings really accelerated with the release in 2010 of the amazing Gonzo's Quest. This slot was unlike anything that had ever been seen before. Online slots games at the time were typically computer versions of Las Vegas-style video slots, with five reels, multiple pay lines, wilds, scatters, and the odd bonus game.
Gonzo's Quest completely shattered this online slots blueprint. For a start, when a player opened the slot, they were treated to a thirty-second, cinema-standard animation that showed Gonzo – a pint sized conquistador – making off on his own with a stolen treasure map in search of Eldorado.
The innovations did not stop there. The symbols in this slot did not spin - they fell into place as if they were stone blocks sent from on high. Gonzo himself was your constant companion, standing to the left of the reels and cheering you on when you won big.
Pretty soon, Gonzo had enchanted millions of slots players with his antics and funky dance moves, so NetEnt (and their rivals) soon realised they were on to a winner.
NetEnt – the king of free spins!
NetEnt as a software provider are extremely popular with online casinos. In fact, the number of casinos that use NetEnt's software runs into the hundreds, and NetEnt vie with Microgaming and Playtech as the most popular gambling software company to be found online.
The one aspect of NetEnt that towers over all their rivals is the fact that lots and lots of online casinos offer free spins on NetEnt slots as an incentive to sign up for them. In fact, if you are offered free spins by an online casino, you can practically bet your bottom dollar that the free spins will be on a NetEnt slot.
Free spins are exactly what they say they are – free spins for a player to use on a selected slot, or a selection of slots. The free spins usually have some monetary value (as you can set your own value 'per spin' when you play online slots using your own money), and once your free spins are used up, they're gone.
Free spins are a great way of getting you accustomed to playing online slots, and also a great way of winning some free cash. Some casinos will let you keep any winnings you make from free spins, but others will expect you to wager them a certain number of times first. Once you have completed these wagering requirements, you are usually free to either cash them out, or use them on other slots, or other casino games.
So, why are NetEnt slots so commonly used as free spin slots by online casinos? Probably because NetEnt's slots are so colourful and entertaining. Additionally, many NetEnt slots have high RTP (return-to-player) values. This means that over long periods of play, the average amount of money you lose is low in proportion to the amount you spend.
NetEnt also excels when it comes to mobile slots, thanks to their 'Touch' software system. Every new slot that NetEnt releases is released in both desktop and mobile versions at the same time, and NetEnt are also reverse-engineering their older slots so they work on this mobile platform.
A handful of NetEnt's top slots
When you look at all of NetEnt's slots, it's hard to pick three of the best as the quality is so universally high. Here though, are three of our personal favourites:
Starburst really ticks all the boxes when it comes to online slots. It is fundamentally simple to play, has brilliant graphics and sounds, and is genuinely thrilling. You also get the chance to win some incredibly tasty jackpots. Starburst is all about landing combos, and the bigger the combo, the more you win. What's really thrilling though is when the wild symbols start to appear, as they arrive stacked and trigger free re-spins.
South Park is one of NetEnt's best themed slots, based of course on the irreverent cartoon that has been upsetting straight-laced people and killing Kenny since 1997. The South Park slot features all four of those naughty Colorado boys - Kyle Broflovski, Stan Marsh, Eric 'I'm not fat, I'm big boned' Cartman and the ever-doomed Kenny McCormick. This slot from NetEnt proved to be so popular that it spawned a sequel, South Park : Reel Chaos, in 2014.
In space, no one can hear you play Aliens, NetEnt's awesomely scary slot. This is a slot like no other, and one of the most intense, resource-heavy slots you'll find to play anywhere. It's based on the terrifying movie of the same name, in which Sigourney Weaver returns to the planetoid upon which her fellow crewman John Hurt suffered a bit of a tummy upset. This slot features some truly unique side games where you get to shoot the nasty xenomorphs, and come face-to-face with the Alien Queen herself!
NetEnt - non-stop net entertainment!
Hardly a month goes by without NetEnt releasing yet another amazing slot. It's hard to understand how they can keep it up, but each new slot brings something unique to the online gambling table. If anyone is going to challenge NetEnt as the supreme supplier of '3D' online slots, they've certainly got their work cut out!