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Online slots are the most popular gaming vertical in the world. They are based on the traditional casino slot machines and are delightfully enjoyable. Casino fans love to play slots online for at least several reasons. 

The gameplay is dynamic yet very easy to follow through. The payment potential is huge, and every month people hear about someone who has won a pile of money. More importantly, slots are provably fair, and they come with the necessary player protection mechanisms.

Today, we will examine what types of slots exist, what the most common characteristics of slots are, how reels form winning combinations, what’s the fun play mode and how you can play for real money – among other things.

A Short History of Online Slots  

Online slots appeared about the same time the first Internet casino launched around 1994 – or at the very least, the first regulator appeared. Barbuda and Antigua began issuing licenses to companies willing to launch operations online.

The first real operator to benefit from this was InterCasino in 1996. That was a turning point for the industry and developments followed quickly. Microgaming (1994) and NetEnt (1996) set up shop around the same time.  

From this point on, online slots came to dominate the online segment. They were largely based on Flash technology and sometimes even needed installation. In the 2000s, more casinos chose to offer an instant play option.

 Then the iPhone arrived, and gaming underwent a small revolution. Flash was gradually phased out in favour of HTML5. Even in 2019, however, at least half of all online slots are based on Flash, but the good news is that developers are applying hotfixes.

 Meanwhile, all new games are developed for HTML5, making them compatible with all types of devices. Today, you won’t have any issues playing from an Android phone or tablet, iPhone or an iPad or any desktop computer. 

Types of Online Slots

When browsing any casino website on the Internet, you will notice that not all slot games are necessarily under a category named specifically “slots.” Throughout the years, several main categories of slots came to be. 

First, there were the classic slots – which at the time were referred to as slots. They usually came with three reels and a single payline. Developers began to improve, though to attract newer players. That is how video slots came to be. Let’s take a look at each type separately.

The Classics

Classic slots are famous as the “one-armed bandits” – or at the very least designed to emulate them. They come with three reels and a single payline which makes for very straightforward gameplay, which many slot fans appreciate – even to this day. Some popular choices include Bar Bar Blacksheep, Break Da Bank, Chinese Kitchen, Couch Potato, and others.  

Video Slots

As the industry began to develop rapidly, new technological opportunities arose. Video slots began replacing classic games, offering some innovative features, multiple reels and even bonus levels. 

The graphics were touched up to reflect players’ appetite for flashier and neater visuals better. The 5-reel slot emerged as a result of the video slots. Even today, these games are the most popular version of games you will find at any online casino. Some of the biggest casino brands still refer to their slots as ‘video slots’. Excellent titles in this category include:

  • Book of Ra
  • Avalon
  • Gonzo’s Quest
  • Starburst 

3D and Augmented Reality

So, here comes an entirely new type of experience – the 3D slot. Shortly after video slots entered the mainstream, 3D slots arrived with the help of established companies, such as NetEnt, Playson, Microgaming, and especially Betsoft and Yggdrasil.

In fact, every slot maker began introducing some three-dimensional elements to keep up with demand. Therefore, some slots will fall under both popular categories, i.e. 3D and video. As it turns out, there are very few casinos out there will have a separate section for these games. The good news is there is usually a filter available. 

 Meanwhile, you will probably want to keep your eyes open for augmented reality slots. Oh, yes – this is happening. NetEnt used virtual reality and augmented reality to showcase Jack and the Beanstalk not so long ago. The only hurdle right now is that not many gamers own a VR set, but as this technology continues to increase, this is bound to change.  

The Best for the Fans

Branded slots are usually video slots that have been developed based on some famous franchise. You can have Dead or Alive or Jurassic Park as a branded slot. In fact, both of these have been developed into slot titles.

NetEnt recently released Ozzy Osbourne Video Slot (you see just how popular video slots still are) and Microgaming secured the rights to develop the Game of Thrones slot not so long ago. Branded slots are a great way to convert fans into casino players, and developers are quite happy to spend a pretty penny on this.

Progressive Jackpots

Progressive jackpot slots are another important category we will cover here. Playtech and Microgaming are the first companies which coined the concept and boosted awareness for the jackpot games. 

Microgaming has come up with quite a few time-tested titles, including Mega Moolah, King Cashalot, Major Millions. These games offer to pay out huge sums that often begin at one million and soar up to millions more worth of cash. 

The longevity of the jackpot determines its size. So, the longer the jackpot has been out, usually the bigger the prize. 

Skill-Based Games for Millennials

This is the newest type of games out there, and they are not exactly mainstream yet, but never fear. Skill-based games are a-coming, and companies such as IGT, Gambling Gaming, and Next Gaming are pushing their products.

In such slots, the premise is that the better you are, the higher the wins you could hit. For instance, popular arcade games are being re-developed as slots. The concept is very new so that you won’t see these games much just yet.  

Go the Megaways

As casino game makers got more ambitious, so did the paylines grow. At first, there was only a handful, but then things quickly started to grow. From 16 paylines, players then had 243, 560, 1024, and beyond. 

In the end, Big Time Gaming said that it would be much better to just push the total paylines count to 117,649 ways to win. Not too bad, right? If you ever feel like you aren’t playing with enough paylines, the best thing to do is to pick one of these games. Here are a few great ones, in fact:

  • Safari Gold
  • Wish Upon a Leprechaun
  • Luck O’ The Irish
  • The Big Wizard
  • Bonanza

Each of these titles’ name comes with ‘Megaways’ in the end, as some games have regular versions as well. They are just as fun to play! 

Online Slots: Symbols

Slots contain several important features that need to be understood in full to have an enjoyable experience playing one. Here is a list of all that you need to know about the slot experience.

Symbols

Slots come with two main groups of symbols – basic and special. This category can be subject to interpretation. The basic category consists of all low and high-paying symbols. Usually, these symbols appear as letters and numbers, such as 10, J, Q, K, A and a few other symbols designed specifically for the theme of a game.

If you take a look at Book of Dead, you will see different Egyptian-themed symbols, such as the Sphinx and Pyramid whereas in Finn’s Golden Tavern, there the better-paying symbols will come in the form of jugs, overflowing mugs, and more. Apart from these symbols, there are three others you might want to keep in mind. They are:  

  • Wild – The wild symbol plays the role of a ‘substitute’, and it fills in for any missing symbol in a winning combination. Sometimes wilds can pay out by themselves and on other occasions – they have no value, but just help other symbols create successful combinations. The wild symbol may not replace the scatter. 
  • Scatter – The scatter symbol can come handy in a few scenarios. Usually, you will need to land between 3 and 5 scatter symbols on the reels to trigger some free bonus games in the form of free spins. The scatters also have better payout by themselves. 
  • Bonus – The bonus symbol reveals a special level that is part of the game. In NetEnt’s Jumanji, the symbol will introduce you to a second-screen board game where you can access multiple and well-worth-your-while perks. 

There are other symbols to consider, such as special wilds and even second bonus symbols. As the slot experience becomes more sophisticated, there will be quite a few novelties for players to experience.

Ever Wondered How to Play Slots?

After you have familiarised with the concepts, it’s time to actually get to the point where you are playing. As mentioned at the beginning, the gameplay is very straightforward. All you need to do is adjust the bet size and hit the spin button. Here are a few things you ought to know, though. 

  • Check the paylines – All payouts are determined according to the paylines. Just look for the “i” in one of the corners and click on it to bring a full table of all viable payouts.
  • Adjust your coin size/bet value – Some slots no longer include “coin size,” as it might confuse some gamers. Instead, modern slots appear to have a simple bet value which immediately translates into hard currency. 
  • Choose how many paylines you want to activate – Certain games will allow you to select the number of paylines you want to activate. As it turns out, that affects your maximum bet. In other words, the more paylines you have on, the bigger the bet you make. Just set the limit to reflect what your budget can support.
  • Go a-spinning! – Once you are all good to go, just press the ‘spin’ button and let the reels click into place, hopefully bringing you juicy wins on the way, too!

It’s that simple! Just tinker a bit with the paylines and see what works best for you. Once you are ready – press spin. If you aren’t entirely certain about a game and its potential, remind yourself to check the free play version. Developers are delighted to give you a shot at the real thing without charging you a penny! 

Looks Matter: What Themes Are There?

Oh, yes – slot makers have gone completely barmy with their selection of plots for the games they create. There isn’t a single figment of the imagination that hasn’t transformed into a standalone title. 

And so, you get your hand on Ancient Greece and Egypt, space exploration, pirates, adventures in the lost cities of the Mayans, and fairy tales. There are leprechauns, dinosaurs, and even gladiators.  

All the spooky slots come out around Halloween, but then the more lightsome Christmassy versions arrive. That is but a taste of what you can discover when looking for a new slot. There are well over 15,000 titles out there, and you have your pick.  

Are You Looking to Boost Your Wins?

Everyone is wondering how to get more wins for their spins. Well, it has to do with the casino you end up choosing! There are a few tricks you can leverage to boost your winning potential, of course, but make sure to double-check your casino. 

It seems like making a smart choice at the beginning will save you a lot of trouble. Not sure what to look for? Well, this is easy! Look for whether a website has a license, check the forums to see what your fellow gamers think and not least of all – see if you like what you see. With a bit of digging, you can find yourself a neat place to play!  

Bonuses for Slot Players 

Regardless of what game you want to play, having a bonus is always a great idea. The best casinos will always offer you large promotions – in the form of money or free spins. And so, slot players know to always check if a good promo is available before they play.  

Each casino will have slightly different T&C’s to accompany the bonuses they offer. To pick the best, you simply have to do your due diligence and read the fine print – no more, no less. 

How about a Slot Tournament?

The slot tournaments are an opportunity to make your slot gameplay an even more exciting adventure! Organised by casinos all over the place, the goal of these events is to keep players entertained. 

Plus, there is a clear competitive element to it all. How the slot race – or indeed tournament – works is simple. You will have to amass the most winnings and top a leaderboard. Once the race is over, you will be awarded a share of a total pot. 

These events can run weekly or monthly. Sometimes they are even a seasonal treat, so there is always something new to explore!

Volatility and RTP 

If you play the slots or any casino game, you will inevitably come across two terms – volatility and RTP. 

Return-to-player (RTP) is a constant used to express the theoretical return for the player. Each game will have its RTP listed somewhere – either on the website or the developer’s website. A while back, the average RTP was around 95%, but these days it’s closer to 97%. 

Theoretically, you will get 97 units back for every 100 units you bet. However, this is only through over 10,000 bets. Anything can happen in the time up to the hypothesised 10,000th bet. 

You may end up losing slightly more – but then again, you may win over 100% of your investment.  

What about Volatility?

This is a great question! Players have probably heard the term volatility thrown around so careless they might be inclined to believe it isn’t a big deal at all! Well, let’s put a pin on this and explain why we think it’s in fact very important.

Volatility stands for one thing alone – the frequency of the overall payout. Put simply: low volatility means you will be paid more often, whereas high volatility would make payouts less frequent.

Alright, but where’s the catch? Well, it’s very simple – high volatility will come with bigger payouts, whereas a low variance – or volatility game – will pay you every other spin and provide you with smaller wins.

Note that there isn’t a rule for how often a game has to pay out and everything is just a theoretical approximation.

Going Mobile with Your Favourite Slots

It will come as a relief to find out that the slot adventure is fully compatible for mobile. No surprises there! As mentioned, this only became the norm in the 2010s, when HTML5 began to prove itself a worthy alternative of any flash game. 

The upshot is that you can enjoy a stellar mobile gaming experience. You can play on the go wherever you are so long as you have a solid connection. The good thing is that even if your Internet connection cuts for a moment, you can reconnect instantly. 

The Best Game Makers

Out there a whole world awaits. The question is, can it offer you what you need when it comes to great titles and excellent moments playing the slots? As it turns out, it can. This is not hard to imagine either when there are so many great brands creating slots these days.

In fact, there must be well over 100 developers. Now, some have been acquired by the bigger brands, so you may see them as standalone brands or listed under other names. Nevertheless, we have put together a brief list.

  • NetEnt – These guys are some of the absolute best. They have coined many unique features that no other studios have, including avalanche reels, cluster payouts, swirly spins, and more. Their top games include Starburst, Finn’s Golden Tavern, Gonzo’s Quest, Narcos, and so many more. NetEnt has the highest standards for game quality as well!
  • Microgaming – You will know them for their progressive jackpots, but Microgaming’s developers have created so many excellent titles. Lara Croft, Avalon and Game of Thrones are just a handful. They have been porting every game they have to HTML5, and as you can imagine, players are having a blast playing from a handheld device!
  • Yggdrasil – A relatively new studio in the slot space, Yggdrasil innovates in ways unimaginable. The studio makes use of exquisite designer’s features along with awesome features. Some of their top games include Lilith’s Inferno, 9k Yeti, Aldo’s Journey, and quite a few others
  • Betsoft – Betsoft has a penchant for creating awesome 3D titles. You will definitely find all titles by the brand to have distinct three-dimensional animation and beautiful graphics. The design is almost surreal, so you will have no trouble recognising a title Betsoft created. 

Naturally, going through the list of 100+ slot makers would be a bit of a challenge. However, there are many flagship brands you ought to keep an eye out for. Red Tiger, Wazdan, Quickfire, Aristocrat, and Dragonfish are just a few.

Each company has developed a unique attitude towards online slots. Distinct visual styles separate one from the next. In terms of gameplay features, all slots contain nearly the same options.

However, it’s an open market out there, and it helps to know you can actually benefit from quite a few great twists. Don’t hesitate to try the play mode options as well! This is your way of finding out what title suits you best!

A Final Thought 

Slots are so much fun to participate in. They provide players with an opportunity to explore new themes on top of an easy-to-follow-gameplay. Each title has its own unique twists to make the experience more entertaining for the player.

Overall, slots offer quite a bit of innovation you can enjoy on your own time. You needn’t be tied down to a desktop computer either, thanks to the flexible mobile feature. Have a great slot title on your mind? Go right ahead and have a blast playing yourself.[:de]

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