The last decade has seen the re-emergence of the super hero cartoon character, characterized by block buster movies which have been a hit across the globe. Super hero themed movies have proved to be guaranteed money spinners, yet there appears to be a growing trend of using the super hero brand in sectors which may not be most appropriate. Recent developments have seen the use of super hero themed slot machines in online casinos. The use of children’s cartoon characters in such an environment raises certain ethical questions. But has the line been crossed?
Cryptologic owned Intercasino have promoted cartoon based slot machines for a number of years. Slot games at the site have featured characters from the Marvel comic range. One of the more recent slots to be launched on their site includes ‘The Amazing Spider-Man Jackpot Slot’.
The business motives for using comic book heroes appear fairly clear. Online slots which are branded by a super hero character are likely to be more attractive to online slots players than unbranded games. The player will easily be able to identify the branded slot game, and new games that are introduced are likely to be taken up quicker by online casino players.
Other online gaming companies have recognised the opportunities that branded games provide. In early 2008, Party Gaming, the publicly listed FTSE company, announced plans to tie in slot machines with blockbuster movies. A slot based on the movie ‘Saturday Night Fever’ has recently been launched with great success, and further slots based on the cult move ‘Top Gun’ are to be released before the year is out.
Even television appears to be getting an online casino makeover. PKR poker, the UK based 3D online poker site have recently launched PKR Deal or No Deal, the popular UK based Saturday evening family entertainment program.
Online gaming companies justify their actions on the basis of a general shift towards mainstream entertainment. However, care needs to be observed, and online gaming companies need to ensure that appropriate age verification processes are in place to ensure children are not attracted to the sites on the back of these heavily branded games. Online gaming companies insist that such controls and procedures are in place. Despite such assurances, many observers believe ethical issues still need to be addressed.