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Focus On: ELK Studios

Focus On: ELK Studios
Paul Clare
by Paul Clare Last updated:

ELK Studios is a bold developer that takes a no-nonsense approach and makes no secret of its ambitions. Their homepage gets straight to the point, plainly stating: “We build great casino games." That's quite a statement, so we thought we'd take take a closer look to see if it’s justified!

Introduction

Founded in 2013, ELK Studios is not exactly a veteran, but it has managed to make quite a splash in a relatively short period of time. ELK is a Swedish company with eclectic tastes in terms of theme, spanning everything from pirate parrots – Pirots – to dystopian cyber dogs – Pug Thugs of Nitropolis.

This team also has an impressive work ethic, having amassed quite a collection of high-quality titles in just a few years.

If you’ve browsed a few casinos in your time, then you’re bound to have come across an ELK title or two (or probably more). Some of their best-known offerings include Wild Toro, which landed ELK ‘Game of the Year’ at the 2017 EGR Operators Awards, and Nitropolis, which spawned a massively successful franchise – and will see a fifth instalment in 2024.

Background

ELK Studios released their first proper slot game, The Lab, in 2014 – which immediately grabbed industry attention thanks to its creative modifiers. 

After spending their formative years proving themselves at home in Sweden, the developers at ELK Studios branched out and reached the UK in 2015, landing a UKGC Licence. 

Wild Toro was a big hit, getting ELK got some well-deserved recognition when awards season rolled around. 

Soon after this, ELK was awarded an MGA licence, extending its international reach even further, ensuring players around the world had access to their excellent range of titles. 

In 2018, at the Sweden Technology Fast50 event, ELK Studios was named one of the 5 fastest growing tech companies in the country!

The first in the Nitropolis series (more on this below) came into being in 2020, with ELK Studios gaining some real momentum off the back of this launch. 

The following year saw the release of X-iter, an adventurous bonus buy function that helped ELK gain international traction.

In 2021 US giant Scientific Games bought ELK Studios – another pivotal moment in their short history and a sure-fire indicator of how well they were regarded globally in the industry. ELK managed to negotiate a favourable deal which gave them access to the US market, whilst retaining creative control and independence – which they continue to exercise today.

Developer highlights

Every developer has their niches and specialities – the things that set them apart from the competition. Here are some of our favourite things about ELK Studios:

The Nitropolis series

The first Nitropolis game was released in 2020, boasting 85,155,840 ways to win and a Nitro Reels feature, as well as a free spins bonus round, sticky reels, respins and scatters. 

Nitropolis is set in an industrial dystopia where 4 clans of creatures are warring for control. So well-received on release it spawned a whole series which went on to pretty much define ELK Studios. 

The fourth instalment, Nitropolis 4, is undoubtedly one of ELK’s finest games. Unsurprisingly, a fifth was soon announced. Additionally, in the run-up to the release of the hotly-awaited Nitropolis 5, ELK Studios released a 4-part mini-series of excellent smaller games. 

The full list of Nitropolis and Nitropolis-adjacent titles now includes:

And finally... Nitropolis 5

Nitropolis 5 Online Slot by ELK Studios
Name:
Nitropolis 5
Developer:
ELK Studios
RTP:
94.00%
Max payout:
50,000x stake
Volatility:
High
Reels:
6
Win lines:
4,096
Theme:
Action, Animal
Release date:
23rd Jul 2024

The fact that ELK Studios would release four games in the build-up to Nitropolis 5 says a lot about how central this series is to them. Any players who haven’t yet checked out the Nitropolis games are strongly advised to do so.

A mobile-first approach

For ELK Studios, “mobile-first content” has played a big part in putting them on the map. 

Recognising players’ increasing desire for portability, as well as the impressive processing capacity of modern devices, ELK has ensured that their titles are fully mobile-optimised.

There are no compromises when it comes to playing ELK’s games on a smaller screen. They function brilliantly, whether through a dedicated casino application or a mobile-optimised in-browser site. 

By leveraging the latest and greatest in mobile technologies such as HTML5, ELK Studios has ensured that its games have longevity, accessibility, and a wide-reaching appeal.

Abundance of features

Most of ELK Studios’ games are practically stuffed with features ranging from bonus rounds to modifiers. 

It has always been the case that this developer’s slots come loaded up with plenty of bonus features. Examples include expanding reels, progressive multipliers, free spin rounds, wilds, cascading reels, symbol upgrades and more. 

The sheer variety of features included demonstrates that ELK Studios knows how much bonuses can contribute to providing engaging and rewarding gameplay.

Premium focus and mathematical modelling

One of the central objectives of ELK Studios is an intention to “combine ground-breaking mathematics with astonishing artwork”. 

This approach produces gripping gameplay that both holds and rewards a player’s attention. It’s one of the main reasons ELK has excelled in recent years. 

By avoiding generic, basic mathematical models in favour of more adventurous, experimental ones, ELK Studios has established itself as an innovative, avant-garde developer. 

The maths-centric approach also feeds into ELK Studios’ “focus on quality over quantity”. They produce slots that feel designed to stand the test of time, rather than disposable, shallow games.

Landmark games

ELK Studios has produced no shortage of highly influential games, but there are a few that really stand out. Here are some that have proved especially important in the development of ELK Studios:

Wild Toro

One of the first ELK Studios titles to gain widespread acclaim was Wild Toro, released back in 2016. Themed around the traditional spectacle that is Spanish bullfighting, Wild Toro charged onto screens and won Game of the Year at the 13th annual EGR Operators Awards in 2017. 

Wild Toro is a characteristic ELK game in the sense that it’s full of fun features, high-end graphics and adrenaline-pumping action. This game quickly stole players’ hearts with its frenetic pacing, fun bonus rounds, top prize of 2,250x, and very respectable RTP of 96.4%.

Wild Toro Online Slot by ELK Studios
Name:
Wild Toro
Developer:
ELK Studios
RTP:
96.40%
Max payout:
2,250x stake
Volatility:
Medium
Reels:
5
Win lines:
178
Theme:
Animal
Release date:
11th Nov 2016

Nitropolis 4

We’ve mentioned the Nitropolis series already, but it’s worth highlighting what is arguably the jewel in its crown: Nitropolis 4. As with its predecessors, Nitropolis 4 takes place in Nitro, an industrial dystopian world governed by warring cyber-critter factions. Players who overlooked this one should seriously reconsider!

In the way of bonus features, there are giant multi-reel symbols, prize multipliers and free spins, but the real attraction is the max win of 50,000x! Whilst the RTP is a little low at 94%, the high volatility and potential for massive wins make the gameplay feel fun and rewarding. Whereas so many sequels fail to live up to expectations, Nitropolis 4 absolutely succeeds. But if the culmination of these fun characters, features and modifiers hasn’t quite convinced you, then perhaps only Nitropolis 5 will! All Nitropolis (and the mini-series) games are available as of July 2024 – there’s something for everybody out there in that messed-up future metropolis.

Nitropolis 4 Online Slot by ELK Studios
Name:
Nitropolis 4
Developer:
ELK Studios
RTP:
94.00%
Max payout:
50,000x stake
Volatility:
High
Reels:
6
Win lines:
4,096
Theme:
Action, Animal
Release date:
23rd Feb 2023

Taco Brothers Derailed 

Another great instalment in another winning franchise, Taco Brothers Derailed is a colourful celebration of all things Mexican. Hunt for gold with the Taco trio while you enjoy various wilds, respins, a balanced medium-high volatility level, and a very respectable max win of 10,000x your stake.

Taco Brothers Derailed came out in 2022 – another chapter in yet another successful series for ELK Studios. In true ELK style, this one promises wild, energetic gameplay, some fun bonuses, and the sort of design that showcases the developers’ passion for quality and attention to detail.

Taco Brothers Derailed Online Slot by ELK Studios
Name:
Taco Brothers Derailed
Developer:
ELK Studios
RTP:
95.00%
Max payout:
10,000x stake
Volatility:
Medium-High
Reels:
6
Win lines:
466
Theme:
Action, Mexican
Release date:
27th May 2022

Alternative games

We’ve touched on a few of the games that have defined this developer, but there are plenty more that are worthy of a mention. Even if you’re familiar with ELK Studios’ output, here are a couple that you might have missed:

Dead Man’s Gold 

With its boast-worthy 25,000x max pay-out, 262,144 different ways to win, and a typically high-end visual design, Dead Man’s Gold is another feature-filled ELK Studios slot that’s well worth checking out. 

Dead Man’s Gold is a pirate-themed title which employs a grid layout with cascading columns and expanding symbols. Players are invited to plunder some big wins, and there are so many bonus features that gameplay can actually become a bit overwhelming. It’s advisable to take a bit of time to familiarise yourself with the bonus features before setting sail for Dead Man’s Gold.

Dead Man's Gold Online Slot by ELK Studios
Name:
Dead Man's Gold
Developer:
ELK Studios
RTP:
94.00%
Max payout:
25,000x stake
Volatility:
High
Reels:
6
Win lines:
4,096
Theme:
Pirate
Release date:
2nd May 2023

Pirots 2

Despite being yet another pirate-themed title, Pirots 2 is quite unlike anything else – except for maybe Pirots. This title is, in many respects, a more polished version of its predecessor, but, whether you played the original or not, it’s got a lot to offer. 

Pirots 2 takes a more comical approach to the pirate theme and was actually quite divisive when it was first released. Pirots 2 is a prime example of how ELK Studios uses ingenious mathematical modelling to their advantage, combining thrilling, volatile gameplay with a decent 10,000x max win. Those who are seeking something a bit left-field should look no further than Pirots 2. To take things to the next level of madness, why not check out Pirots 3? You won’t regret it!

Pirots 2 Online Slot by ELK Studios
Name:
Pirots 2
Developer:
ELK Studios
RTP:
94.00%
Max payout:
10,000x stake
Volatility:
High
Theme:
Animal, Pirate
Release date:
7th Nov 2023

Oxygen

How could ELK Studios count themselves amongst the big developers without having the obligatory fishing-themed slot under their belt!? Oxygen is ELK’s answer to this popular genre, but it’s not just a standard re-hashing of something like Big Bass; it’s an ELK title through and through.

Oxygen has a 25,000x max win, loads of wilds and multipliers, multiple bonus games, and it uses the cluster pays format. The graphics are arguably better than those of most fishing games. This, combined with the relatively low volatility and pleasant underwater setting, makes for an experience which is perhaps a bit more chilled out than other ELK slots, but no less exciting! 

Oxygen Online Slot by ELK Studios
Name:
Oxygen
Developer:
ELK Studios
RTP:
94.00%
Max payout:
25,000x stake
Volatility:
Medium-High
Theme:
Fishing
Release date:
20th Dec 2023

Where to play

ELK Studios’ games are fairly mainstream these days, so you’ll come across them on all sorts of casino sites. Still, if you’re looking for somewhere to begin your journey, here are a few sites which do a great job hosting them:

  • Mr Vegas Logo

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    Up to £200 Bonus + 11 Free Spins

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  • PlayOJO Logo

    PlayOJO

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Summary

With its impressive track record and backing from Scientific Games, ELK Studios has firmly established its place amongst the industry’s biggest developers. Its slots are characterised by rich design, immersive worlds, lots of great features, and world-class graphics. 

Some players utter sighs of despair each time they encounter yet another sequel, but ELK’s titles are more than thrilling enough to justify their existence. As long as ELK Studios keeps up the good work, we fully expect to see them rising even further through the ranks over the coming years. 

Paul Clare
by Paul Clare Last updated:

Paul spent plenty of time in arcades up and down the UK discovering all of the best fruit machines and watching them grow into the incredible online slots we see today. He still loves the basic format but also has a soft spot for games with big bonus rounds that progress as you play. Immortal Romance is one of his favourite slots of all time.