Our gambler grandmas find it easy to spot how far technology has brought the reel-spinning games, but sometimes it’s not that apparent to modern gamblers. Imagine the journey from single pay-line slot machines to the astonishing 117,000-odd MEGAWAYS in their online counterparts. These changes have decades of work in between, but since the world wide web launched and online casinos appeared, developers (and their imaginations) shifted a gear, or two.
Truth be told, innovation moves much faster in this generation than ever before as the improvements from the past five years prove. The popularity of online gambling increased to unprecedented heights since 2020 and quite a few countries joined the regulated market. Higher demand and licensing opportunities opened important doors for developers as casino platforms seek content that engages players and boosts loyalty.
Today, we discuss exciting shifts in the online slot space, focusing specifically on what developers do to create thrilling and fresh experiences for gambling enthusiasts. How do they create immersive gaming with players signing in from remote locations? What innovations can we enjoy at this stage? Where may we find our slot-spinning selves in the future of online casinos?
Engaging the Senses
Some punters who frequent online casino platforms have years of experience with brick-and-mortar gambling facilities. Others discovered their affinity with slot games by clicking spin online. While it is easy to create a sensory experience for patrons at a physical venue, implementing this quality becomes tricky in online gaming. This element has punters returning to land-based casinos and platform providers scratching their heads on how to enable player loyalty.
Because it is impossible to engage all the senses with an online experience, igaming developers must employ innovative design principles to focus on the ones they can. The obvious focal points are visual and audio effects. Much like enticing theatre productions or Hollywood blockbusters, an online slot with well-considered sound effects and music leaves the player with an unforgettable experience.
Intuitive developers hit the nail on the head by attracting punters with glorious graphic work and inspiring them with a soundtrack worthy of a volume boost. Others, not so much. Inevitably, there will always be those who enjoy sound effects and those who choose to mute audio, much like some choose to spin on slots and others prefer table games. Each to their own.
Modern software providers who grasp the importance of atmospheric and suitable audio effects have dedicated audio teams allowing them to present awe-inspiring slots. These sound experts navigate the intricate details like file sizes and device adaptability while ensuring the most immersive audio experience possible. Punters on the receiving end of these creations can utilise various tools, such as Dolby headsets or surround sound systems on their PCs. With Silicon Valley having a clear intent to launch the Metaverse, we can only wait and watch in amazement at what game developers come up with to improve audio experiences.
Innovation Beyond Reels
Long gone are the days where punters can only choose between 5 or 10 paylines filled with fruity icons when they feel like a flutter. Games of chance in the golden age of online gambling morphed into a whole new sphere of entertainment with storylines, cinematic artwork, and genres fit for any kind of personality.
If we predict what the next couple of years may bring to our screens in gambling entertainment, based on the innovations from the last half-decade, the prospects are extremely exciting. Six years ago, we could never have imagined innovations like Big Time Gaming’s Megaways mechanics. This created a wave of innovation in the slot market with other leading developers introducing impressive features to boost gameplay.
Slicing and Shooting
In the last year alone, online slot developers broke the mould a few times. In no specific order, Evoplay and Raw iGaming come to mind. The former introduced us to their first-person shooter game, Star Guardians, where punters trade the reels for some action-packed inter-galactic warfare. The latter took the reels to the chopping block and sliced them up, subsequently introducing their SuperSlice slots late last year.
Evoplay’s Star Guardians game is a great success, and the approach is unrivalled. The only downside to the game is that it speaks to a very particular segment of gamblers. That being said, this game has the potential to inspire developers as BTG did back in 2016. SuperSlice from Raw iGaming has the potential to become a fan favourite as the innovation doesn’t move too far off from slot game norms. Both types of innovation have their place in the industry and are equally important.
There is another trend making a mark in the slot scene. A whole new genre. Crash gambling games incorporate straightforward mechanics, but developers use unique approaches to attract players to their crash games and slowly chip away at market share because of its commercial success. Improved RTP rates are another reason these games are popular. Some offer a house edge as low as 1%.
Suitable for punters who enjoy quick plays, Crash games offer players a sense of more control. The original game appeared in the crypto gambling industry first and slot developers like BGaming jumped on the bandwagon to create one for traditional online casinos. The rules are very simple. Place your bet and risk sticking around for as long as possible while the win multiplier increases like stocks on a good day. Cash-out before it crashes and you walk away as a winner.
With the cash-out or crash-and-burn thrill lingering with every increase of the multiplier, the vertical attracts younger audiences and punters that prefer an interactive gambling experience. Crash-style games also offer a higher level of socialising, bringing the human factor closer to remote wagers. Players compete against others in the community, introducing a fresh opportunity for traditionally solo gamblers.
What the Future of Slots May Look Like
The topic on everyone’s lips in the tech world is blockchain. This is the technology that powers decentralised currency like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Blockchain technology is revolutionary, to say the least, and the online gambling industry, especially games like slots, can benefit from it.
Some software providers have cottoned on to the advantages, allowing punters to reap the benefits of features like provably fair mechanics and crypto gambling. Others remain sceptical or uneducated, but experts believe blockchain adoption is inevitable in the technology-driven gambling industry.
✓ Non-Fungible Token Gambling
From the technology that makes cryptocurrency so attractive and unique came NFTs (Non-fungible Tokens), digital collector’s items that are all the rage. These blockchain-based items are as unique as a piece of art from Picasso and, depending on who the creator or owner is, it could be as valuable as one. The authenticity of these digital assets makes them extremely sought after and collectors pay astonishing sums to own one.
With crypto gambling enjoying an increasing share of online wagers, the market shows potential for these types of additions to attract more players. Elia Software is so confident of this that they created the NFT gambling concept, Slotie. Capitalising on the niche of NFTs, Sloties introduced Ethereum investors to Defi (decentralised finance) gambling paired with NFT ownership.
In time, the success of concepts like Slotie will inspire further innovations with blockchain. We are inclined to bet on the NFT reward increasing in demand.
✓ Spinning in Virtual Reality
The adoption of virtual reality in gaming has slowly increased, but the market is still lopsided in this regard. A contributing factor is a high cost of acquiring the right equipment for VR experiences and regarding VR gambling, a lack of suitable content fails to motivate players in this direction.
Recent shifts in the tech world show that an expansive virtual world is closer than ever before, as Mark Zuckerberg and others set out to create the metaverse. This may be a long way off, but the prospect of walking into a virtual world and travelling impossible distances in seconds sounds pretty amazing.
Imagine gambling in an Aussie casino with kangaroos serving you cocktails. Then, with the click of a button, you change venues (and outfits) to Vegas and step out of your limousine into the streets of Sin City. All from the warm comfort of your recliner in your London home. VR presents online players with the chance to get out while staying in and experience gambling like never before.
Anticipate in Wonder
Although some of the ideas seem far-fetched and others may take time to materialise, we can only imagine what the reality of online slots could become. Taking stock of all the impressive changes from the last couple of years makes it seem like exciting innovations await us, sooner than we can predict.