Evolution of Online Slot Games

September 24, 2015

New players at online casinos accustomed to wagering on recently released online slots may have little idea how simple these games once were. This article traces some of the landmark developments in the evolution of video slots over the last two decades.

The earliest video slots had nine paylines. Winning combinations occurred less frequently, so payouts tended to be greater. They usually had a wild symbol that substituted to make winning combinations, but it was a simple, no-frills wild symbol. Sometimes wild symbols were multipliers but there were no expanding wilds or stacked wilds at that time. Many video slots had scatter symbols, but these only awarded scatter payouts. The wins were indicated by a different and more pronounced audio without any animations.

The free spins feature was among the first of the bonus features to be introduced. It was triggered by three or more scatter symbols appearing anywhere on the reels. The number of free spins was fixed and given in the rules. Sometimes the wild symbol was given a multiplier property in the free spins and sometimes all free spins wins had multiplied payouts. Over the last two decades, the free spins feature has become increasingly complex. Different number of triggering symbols award different number of free spins. The triggering mechanism has become more complex in some slot games. Sometimes you are asked to choose between different sets of free spins.

The bonus game on the second screen also used to be a simple affair in the beginning. You just picked one of the objects on the second screen and won bonus credits. Then you began choosing a number of objects till a booby appeared. Multi-level bonus games were introduced. If you chose the right object, then you would proceed to the next level where greater payouts awaited. Online casino software providers began to combine the second screen bonus and the free spins. You selected objects on the second screen to determine how many free spins you have won.

All these developments still had the software totally in control. These choices were essentially random and so your decisions did not influence the outcomes. In some of the video slots introduced in the last few years, your choices give some real control as in Microgaming Respin slots. Some slots allow you to activate an extra bet. You pay an amount more than the normally calculated total bet and this creates the potential to activate a bonus feature, which will not be available to players who do not pay the extra amount.

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