Online gambling has exploded in popularity over recent years. It already reached a value of $45.8 billion in 2017 and is expected to double in size by 2024 – reaching a staggering $94.4 billion. The freedom of play casino classics from the comfort of their own home on a computer, or on-the-go via mobile devices, has resulted in a boom period for digital gaming. And with new games, more immersive experiences and bigger prizes on the horizon, this looks set to continue.
Slot games have played a huge part in this golden age for online gambling. It’s estimated that they generate around 80% of the total income for online operators, making them a huge cash cow that companies and players alike have embraced.
We’re looking at how online slot game technology has improved over the past few years and what goes into creating some of the most popular games.
Slot games through the years
Since Charles August Fey invented slot machines that paid-out automatically in 1895, there has been a constant evolution in design, play and rewards. The first machines to use the classic three-reel slot design arrived in 1898, called the Card Bell. It used a handle that the player pushed down to set the reels off, which were emblazoned with playing card suits, which would align to form poker hands. The iconic BAR symbol, a hallmark that is still found on slot machine reels today, was added in 1907.
But as the designs of these early slot machines changed over the years, perhaps the biggest revolution in the game happened in 1964, with the arrival of the first electro mechanical slot machine. Reels were now activated mechanically, rather than being set in motion using the handle.
As traditions and tastes changed, the pathway for a completely mechanical slot machine was paved, with the advent of the first ever video slot in the mid-1970s. These early electronic machines used a colour screen to display the reels and a board which included a guide to the winning combinations. With slicker gameplay came improved security, as additional cheat-proofing systems to prevent unscrupulous players from gaming the new systems.
This step into an electronic age eventually transformed how slots could be played. The internet era meant slot games moved from the casinos to online platforms, with the world’s first virtual online casino opening in 1995. Gamblers could now access their favourite slots by visiting online operators, a trend which continues to this day, with the rise of more online slot games and increasingly sophisticated gameplay.
The tech behind the fun
Behind the glitzy glamour of the new era of online slots, there’s a plethora of tech to power the games on offer and create an immersive experience.
Online slots rely on a special algorithm called a Random Number Generator, to determine where the reels fall. This is a piece of software that, when activated, generates a constant stream of random numbers which relate to where the reels land.
This perfectly recreates the old-style mechanical spinning reels, but allows for a far more accurate determination of how much a slot game will pay out. It makes determining the Return to Player (RTP) rate even easier for developers. This is where the creators decide how much a game will pay out every time the jackpot is hit – making it easier to target the right audience, from hardcore gamers to casual players.
Developers must also think about how easy the game is to play, again, catering it to those likely to be spinning. How easy a game is to play is determined by where it falls on the variance system. This is split into three categories:
- Low-risk – lots of winning combinations, appealing to a wide audience
- Medium-risk – both high and low payouts on offer, a middle-ground
- High-risk – offering huge jackpots that are difficult to win
Once the game is built, and the features and bonus rounds have all been programmed, gaming companies have to decide how the game will look. 3D rendering software is now frequently used by designers to create the theme of a slot game.
This type of software can create animated sections, colour schemes, fonts and other visual aspects to inject an element of flair to the online gaming experience. It’s perhaps no surprise to see that with this depth of technology and design behind their development, online slots are among the most popular of all games. Simple to play and with a wealth of choice on the web, gamers are spoilt for choice.
But to find the very best slot games, it makes sense to start with the highest quality online casino. You’ll have a wealth of choice, with a selection of high-quality games, covering several themes and genres, making it the best place to play slots on the market.
Some of the best include…
A must for any players who want to combine old-style Vegas action with a high-tech playing experience. It has five spinning reels and no less than 243 different ways to win. But the real secret behind this game is in the name.
The reels can split into one set of three, and two others which spin independently, potentially unlocking the doors to all kinds of other great gameplay features. From a simple game design-wise, it proves to be a far more involving experience than you might expect.
Nightmare on Elm Street
Freddy Krueger made sure we were all too scared to go to sleep throughout the 1980s and beyond. It’s only logical that the iconic horror movie monster should make it onto his very own slot.
There are all the symbols you’d expect from the movie, as well as ways to stop you falling asleep, for example by drinking a black coffee and phoning a friend. But the most impressive thing about this game is its progressive jackpot that grows by the second. It’s a fantastic example of how multiplayer technology can work to generate some scarily big prizes.
For an example of a slot that’s obviously taken video games as its cue, look no further than Gonzo’s Quest. Based on the real life adventurer Gonzalo Pizarro who ventured to Peru in search of the legendary gold city of Eldorado, he’s on the same mission here.
The game first caught the attention for its 3D animation. But now, its designers are going even further by producing a Virtual Reality version.
As we head into the future, the technological development behind the world’s most popular slot games is set to continue. Designers and creators are tirelessly working to create new ways to win and even more interactive features to ensure the boom period of online slots continues – and there are millions of fans looking forward to it.Follow us on