Slots have been the most popular type of casino games for quite some time, and they will most likely keep the top position for many years to come. That doesn’t mean, however, that they are still the same as they used to be five, ten, or twenty years ago.
The industry of slot machines is evolving quite a lot. Some games that fall into the "slot machine" category nowadays would be considered something completely different just a couple of years ago. And the games themselves are not the only thing changing. The entire industry is evolving and changing, bringing exciting changes to the world of online gambling.
Let’s take a look at five recent trends that are shaping the future of online slot machines.
1. Decline of regular reel-spinning slots
Let’s focus on the games themselves first. As already mentioned, some popular slots of the present day wouldn’t even be called "slots" a couple of years back. In the past, pretty much all slots used to have either three or five reels, each of which had most commonly three symbols on it.
The numbers of reels and symbols kept changing, but so did a new genre of slot machines – one that didn’t fit the old-timey definition of slot machines. Nowadays, many slots pay on clusters of symbols instead of regular winlines, and a not-so-small number of games start to resemble arcade games you might remember from your childhood.
Now, if you follow the online slot trends, you might say that the gameplay of Reactoonz is pretty common in 2019. And that’s exactly it. Unusual types of slot machines are getting more and more popular, and even crazier game concepts are being developed by creative game providers, which makes games like Reactoonz feel dated by now, at least for some people.
The second trend in online slots we’re including in this article is closely connected to the first one. Gamification is pretty much everywhere nowadays, starting with the games themselves. A rising number of slot machines is implementing various level systems, in which the bonus features and other things change as you play the game for longer.
But gamification doesn’t stop there. Many online casinos organize various leaderboards and tournaments in which players can win cash, bonuses, or other prizes, if they end up on top of the scoreboard. Participants can battle for extra wins, and casinos benefit from the increased engagement of players, so competitions like these are likely to stick around.
They are already more common than you might think. If you visit the online slots section of any big casino site like 888 Casino, for example, you are likely to find a number of ongoing tournaments and leaderboards for games from various game providers. Collecting achievements often connected to winning smaller or even bigger prizes is pretty common, too. And the number of gamification efforts in online gambling is expected to keep rising.
Truth to be told, gamification is good for both game providers and online casino operators. Operators use it to keep players engaged for longer, while game providers want players to play their games instead of their competitors’.
3. Mobile-first approach
The shift to mobile is already well-documented and known, so we can expect to see more highly-optimized mobile casino websites being created in the future. In the past years, everybody has been talking about mobile catching up with desktop, but that has already happened. Mobile visitors are already strongly outnumbering desktop ones on many markets, including online gambling.
We can expect more and more online casinos to adopt the so-called mobile-first approach, in which mobile visitors and their needs are a priority. Instead of starting with a desktop site and making it usable for mobile users as well, the design process starts with the mobile version. That might seem like a small change, but it really shows in the finished product, and we’d say that it’s good news for the industry overall.
4. Virtual reality slots
VR has been on the lists of ongoing technological trends for quite some time now, and it’s not expected to leave. As the technology develops, virtual reality is becoming easier to use and less-demanding on the hardware side of things, which makes it likely that anything VR-related will keep becoming more and more mainstream.
One of the first real-life examples of VR slots comes from NetEnt. Their virtual reality version of Gonzo’s Quest was announced by the company at the beginning of 2017. More than two years later, VR hasn’t had a major impact on the online gambling industry yet, although that doesn’t mean it won’t revolutionize it in the years to come.
We just have to keep eyes open and wait to see what happens, not just in the area of VR slots, but also regarding virtual reality as a whole.
5. Rise of skill-based games
There have already been some efforts to implement skill-based factors to slot machines, but none of them have taken the industry by storm. Instead, they remain relatively unknown, waiting for their breakthrough.
The idea behind these slot machines is to make the result not rely just on luck, but to include certain factors that players can influence by the decisions and actions they make during the gameplay. Games like these, therefore, don’t have a fixed RTP like regular slots, which has definitely been one of the worries of both game providers and online casino operators.
Skill-based casino games don’t have to resemble regular slots, at all. Take a look at the video below to see a couple of unusual casino games to say the least.