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Playtech Muscles In On Marvel Brands

March 9, 2009

Through a news item at their web site, Playtech has announced that “it has signed a landmark, exclusive multi-year licensing agreement with Marvel Characters B.V., a wholly owned subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, Inc., to use Marvel’s motion picture brands.” The release goes on to name some of the iconic brands as The Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Iron Man and Blade. In 2007 Playtech’s rival in the online gaming software business, Cryptologic, had announced a deal with Marvel comics for exclusive use of the Marvel brands for its slots games. That deal was to run through till 2010. More than 15 online slot games based on Marvel superheroes have been released by Cryptologic since then. It is not clear from Playtech’s press release whether their agreement with Marvel Entertainment starts after Cryptologic’s expires or will run concurrently with Cryptologic’s.

The agreement between Marvel and Playtech allows the latter to use Marvel brands on all its gambling products including casino, poker and bingo. The branded games can be delivered on all of its platforms including online, mobile, television and server based gaming terminals. The server based gaming terminals are operated through a subsidiary, Videobet. Today Playtech is perceived as falling behind Microgaming and Cryptologic in the online gaming software industry. This deal with Marvel Entertainment will boost its standing by a great deal. Mor Weizer, the Chief Executive Officer of Playtech, said as much in the press release. “This agreement is a major stepping stone for Playtech, as it will greatly extend the commercial appeal and cross-selling opportunities of our products.” Weizer added that the branded slots will diversify the Playtech product range and thus attract new customers. The marvel brand has a huge mass appeal. With Marvel slots on offer the Playtech online casinos will be able to increase market share in the online gaming industry. Weizer said that Playtech looked forward to working with Marvel.

Playtech is clearly targeting Cryptologic head on. Late last year it snatched one of the leading brands of the online casino industry from Cryptologic. This was William Hill. In a complicated transaction the assets and businesses of the affiliates of Playtech were transferred to William Hill Online, which now operates its casino and poker portals with Playtech software.

It may be recalled that Microgaming was the first online gaming software provider to enter with branded slots using Tomb Raider from Eidos. But last year Cryptologic upstaged Microgaming in the genre of branded slots with a flood of releases based on Marvel Slots. Now it seems that Playtech is all set to upstage Cryptologic.

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