About the Company
Zonelock is a small online gambling game developer without much of a public footprint or corporate presence. We have never seen them or their games represented at industry trade shows, and they don't seem to have a website.
However, that doesn't mean that the company is completely unheard of.
Someone behind the scenes seems to have inked a deal with Microgaming to distribute at least one of their games on the massive Quickfire network, giving hundreds of online casinos access to their content.
Quickfire operators are most often licensed by the UKGC, Malta, and Gibraltar. We find the Malta Gaming Authority licensing their most well-known game, Mahjong Exchange at online casinos with multiple licenses.
Further distribution occurs over the Softgamings network, a game aggregator and platform provider that supplies various online casinos across Europe, Asia, and the Americas, not including the USA.
One name we find associated with the company in the capacity of the creative director also holds or held top positions with Microgaming and PokerStars.
Additional teams that may have contributed to at least one of the company's games include developers Isle of Man studio, Ingenuity Gaming.
Software and Games
They also have a slot game available but not much can be found about the game. We haven't been able to find it for real money play and we haven't got the data sheets on it so there's nothing to report as far as volatility, payouts, or return to player percentages. It is billed as a "social casino game" and may or may not be available for real money play on the network.
Royal Realms was released in late 2016 and we do find a youtube video of the game.
Rather than having the customary 9, 10, J, Q, K, A as lower-paying symbols, the developers have opted to use playing card suit symbols such as Spades, Clubs, Hearts, and Diamonds along with royal characters.
Simulated gameplay, showing some of the features of the title can be seen in the Youtube video below:
It's unclear if there is an element of skill involved in playing the game, but "spells" can be purchased to "trick the reels" into forcing luck your way.
This game is most certainly a real money gambling game. While our Asian readers will be most familiar with Mahjong, others may have been exposed to the ancient Chinese game of tiles. Some reports indicate the game has been played for as long as 2,500 years.
Worldwide, nearly 350 million people play the game in one form or another. Mahjong Exchange melds the excitement of casino gaming with the mystical symbolism of the centuries-old game.
All of the traditional Mahjong symbols are in play here. The way the matching game becomes a gambling game in this version is by allowing bets on several groupings or individual tiles, much like betting on roulette or the 3-dice game of Sic Bo.
Some observers in the west have even compared Mahjong to rummy. However you look at it, the rules are simple and the game is fun.
Players place a stake, predicting a match when the secret tile is revealed. Winnings are based on the odds of making a match and the bet size, in addition to other factors.
The "exchange" element comes into the equation when players are allowed to exchange the randomly selected secret tile for another face-down tile in the array. This gives the perception of control, even though the odds do not change. Some players really appreciate the chance to determine their own fate rather than always having a random number generator determine the outcome.
The bet level is controlled by the operator carrying the game. We have seen reference to bets as high as 1,000 EUR per round.
As can be seen in the video above, the gameplay is simple and straightforward and the action can go as quickly as a player would like.
As we discover more of their titles or if more are released, we'll review the games in detail. At this point, we are only able to find two games and only one of them is definitely a real money gambling game.
The Final Analysis
We are almost always able to find out quite a bit about game developers through several investigative methods. All of our craft falls flat with this particular developer. In the absence of historical information, ownership, management, or even the location of the developers, we need to simply rely on the fact that the game is licensed by the MGA and we do not find any complaints about the game after several years on the market.
The quality of casinos that carry the game as well as the distributors that have chosen to provide the game, in addition to the Maltese authority's licensing of play, gives us enough information to determine the game is fair and that regulatory authorities and commercial partners have done their own due diligence on the company.
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