Whether they're one-armed bandits or modern button machines, slot games are played worldwide – from the fruit machines of Great Britain, to the pokies of Australia and New Zealand, to the slots of the United States of America.
In line with advances in video games and networking, slot machines shed their clunky mechanical workings to make way for intricate software and dazzling graphics. The move to online slot machines afforded game developers a whole host of opportunities that were free from the restraints of a physical game.
Types of Slots
Online video slots allow for a diverse range of gameplay: from games that imitate classic slots, to more hi-tech video slots using 3D graphics, and progressive slots, where the jackpot is tied to all those playing the same game.
Whereas classic slots often utilise recognisable symbols from fruit machines, such as cherries, lemons, grapes and the 777, video slots often create their own symbols and icons based on the brand or theme that they're set to, although many still use the card symbols 10, J, Q, K, and A.
A number of video slot developers licence characters from existing films, TV shows, comic books or even video games, like the range of slots based on the characters that inhabit the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This allows them to use characters like Iron Man (Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3), Wolverine (X-Men) or Hulk (The Incredible Hulk) as winning icons.
Recommended Slot Games
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Paylines and Reels
The standard classic slot machines had three reels, with one payline across the centre. Online video slots offered game designers the chance to expand on both of these. Five-reel games have become the standard for many online casinos, while a game can offer anywhere between one to 100 paylines, going forwards or backwards, as well as creating various diagonal shapes. Players can choose how many lines they wish to play and in which combinations they want, as well as deciding how much money to place on each line.
Betting Amounts and Payouts
The amount that players can bet on an online video slot differs wildly, depending on what the games developer has set as the minimum and maximum, the casino that's hosting the game, and the currency that's being wagered. It will also depend on how much the player places on the line bet – not forgetting to multiply this by the number of lines activated. For example, a player may choose a line bet of ten coins, playing 25 paylines, which equals 250 coins per spin.
Depending on the number of symbols scored on a specific line, payouts can range from ten to 2000x the initial bet. If a player is lucky enough to land two wins on the same payline, the vast majority of online video slots will only offer one payout per line, favouring the higher cash prize.
Scatters, Wilds and Multiplier Bonuses
In addition to wins using only standard symbols, online video slots feature a wide array of bonus icons and rounds, which improve a player’s chance of success, while also adding some variety to gameplay. Wild symbols act as chameleons and can be substituted for other icons, which can help turn a losing line into a winning one. It's worth bearing in mind, though, that wild symbols are not usually able to replace a scatter symbol.
Scatter symbols are icons that do not necessarily have to appear on the payline in order to be activated. In most online video slots, the appearance of three, four or five scatter symbols spread out across the reels will generate a bonus payment, or even launch a bonus round or free spins round.
Scatter bonus rounds can take various forms, but ultimately lead to a player trying to progress through several rounds in order to increase their score. This is often then multiplied by the initial bet to reward the player with a much higher cash prize.
Progressive slots are games that are linked together. Those who try one of these high-energy linked games have the chance to win the cash pot that all the games feed a small amount into. One of the most popular progressive jackpot games is Microgaming’s Mega Moolah, which is known for making some of its lucky players millionaires overnight.
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