When online casinos first emerged in the 90's, software providers like Microgaming offered full software suites and online casino operators simply used these to run their entire gaming platforms. This was the case for the greater part of a decade and it meant that players had to sign up at multiple casinos if they wanted to enjoy games from the various providers.
This was inconvenient for players and annoying for online casino operators as it meant that players moved around a lot and a great deal more effort was required to keep them loyal and playing at the same online casino on a continuous basis - as such, online casino bonuses and promotional offers, as well as player loyalty programs were born. Yet in spite of the added efforts and expense that online casinos incurred in the necessary player retention models, this model endured for years as there was simply no other option for either players or operators.
In more recent years, however, we've seen the various major software giants as well as independent gaming providers offering solutions to this problem by developing independent software platforms. These platforms offer administrative packages without the games and games from various providers can then be incorporated into these platforms. In turn, the software providers could also upsell their own games to a wider market as was the case with Cryptologic's Marvel Comic themed slots, and so the hybrid online casino was born.
While Microgaming originally stuck to offering only its own software packages and games, it later realized that it could not lose out on revenues in a changing market and so it developed the QuickFire platform to offer its games to operators not using their complete gaming suite, as well as to offer existing operators access to games from other developers.
Nowadays you'll find casinos like Betsafe that offer games from multiple software providers, including Microgaming, NetEnt, Cryptologic and Evolution gaming, which means that you can play many of your favourite online casino games at a single online casino from one account.
Playtech is still one of the last major software providers offering only dedicated software suites. Operators like William Hill have however found a way around this by offering an exclusive Playtech powered online casinos as well as an additional Games portal that offers games from multiple developers.
As a player, where you play is completely up to you - if you're a fan of solely Microgaming or Playtech games then playing at casinos powered by these providers will serve you well as they always have. If on the other hand, you are someone who likes to try new games often and likes a number of games across platforms then playing at a hybrid online casino may just be for you.