The last decade has seen the reappearance of superhero cartoon characters, marked by block buster films that have become worldwide hits. Superhero-themed movies have proven to be guaranteed money spinners, but there seems to be a growing trend of using superhero brands in perhaps the most inappropriate sectors. Recent developments have seen the use of superhero themed slot machines in online casinos. The use of children’s cartoon characters in such an environment raises certain ethical questions. But has that line been crossed?
Cryptologic’s Intercasino has been promoting cartoon-based slot machines for several years. The slot games on the maha168 site have featured characters from various Marvel comics. One of the newest slots to be launched on their site includes ‘The Amazing Spider-Man Jackpot Slot’.
The business motive for using comic book heroes seems pretty clear. Online slots branded by superhero characters tend to be more attractive to online slot players than unbranded games. Players will easily be able to identify branded slot games, and new games introduced are likely to be picked up more quickly by online casino players.
Other online gaming companies have recognized the opportunities that branded games provide. In early 2008, Party Gaming, the FTSE publicly traded company, announced plans to tie slot machines to blockbuster movies. The slot based on the movie ‘Saturday Night Fever’ recently launched with great success, and the next slot based on the cult movement ‘Top Gun’ will be released before the year ends.
Even television seems to be getting a remodel of online casinos. PKR Poker, the UK-based online 3D poker site recently launched PKR Deal or No Deal, a popular UK-based Saturday night family entertainment program.
Online gaming companies justify their actions on the basis of a general shift towards mainstream entertainment. However, caution needs to be taken, and online gaming companies need to ensure that appropriate age verification processes are in place to ensure children are not attracted to the sites behind these well-known branded games. Online gaming companies insist that such controls and procedures be implemented. Despite such assurances, many observers believe that ethical issues still need to be addressed.