When Branding Goes Wrong

If there is one type of game players love, it is a branded game. It provides a sense of familiarity with the characters and ideas within the game even before you play it. However, as we are about to find out, branded games don’t always work out in the way you might expect.


Perfect examples of branding gone right


When a branding agreement is reached between the copyright holder and the slot machine developer, it opens the way to one or more slot games players are going to love.


There are tons of examples of branded slots we could give you, but here are a few successful ones:


  • Anchorman
  • The Monopoly series of slots (yes, branded slots don’t always involve TV shows or movies)
  • Wonder Woman Gold
  • The Goonies
  • Top Cat (based on the famous cartoon)


When things work out, the players can enjoy some great slots based on familiar characters, settings, and stories. So, what if things don’t work out?


What happens when branding goes wrong?


Licensing rights come into play when slot developers want to create games based around famous characters and stories. The owner or developer of a character owns the rights to that character. The software company must therefore reach agreement with the owner to ensure they can legally create the game they want to develop.


Remember the Lord of the Rings slot?


A classic example of what can go wrong with branded slots occurred a couple of years ago. Warner Bros reached a settlement agreement with the Tolkien estate. JRR Tolkien created The Lord of the Rings novel, of course – perhaps one of the most famous novels of all time.


The novel was turned into a series of films. Eventually, Microgaming created an online slot based on the film and featuring familiar characters seen on screen. This was done in association with Warner Bros under licence from the company.


Tolkien’s estate claimed the licensing rights did not extend to slot games


The author had come to an agreement to grant licensing rights to United Artists many years ago (acting as a distributor for Warner Bros at the time). However, his estate claimed these rights did not extend to slots and similar gaming opportunities.


The legal tussle carried on for five years. Eventually, an agreement between the two parties was settled out of court. No amount was given for the settlement, so the story – for us, at least – ends there.


Patent infringements can occur in other ways too


Another example of how things can go wrong in the world of online gaming concerns a series of slots released by WMS. These slots contained a re-spin feature whereby winning symbols were held in position while everything else went through a re-spin.


This was said to infringe on the patent originally granted to Michael J Dietz in 2003 for this re-spin facility. No solution has yet been reached on this legal battle, but it shows how important it is for software developers and associated companies to make sure they are not treading on anyone’s toes.


Branded online games are still extremely popular


When things go right, it is easy to see why players love branded slots:


  • They are familiar
  • They inspire lots of special features and bonuses
  • They provide another way to interact with popular characters and storylines
  • They switch things up from standard slots
  • They use themes that have already proven popular, albeit in another medium


If you like branded slots, it is good to know there are lots of them to choose from. If one suddenly disappears from your favourite casino or bingo site, however, you might now realise why!