Checking out the Different Types of Slots
Slot machines are a staple of the gambling world. These systems enjoy places of pride in many casinos both online and off, often acting as the most numerous machines on physical and digital floors. Having existed for so long, it can be challenging to keep track of everything that’s out there, and what makes the different types of slots stand out.
To help our players, we’ve written this page to help you understand the different forms that modern slot games take, and what makes each version special. From humble beginnings to one of the most popular betting systems on the planet, it’s been a long journey, and we’re only just getting started.
One thing to remember before getting started is that the boundaries between slots, especially online slots, can often be blurred. Many types of slots borrow elements from others, so it can be tricky to fit some titles into strict groups. Of course, as long as the results are more enjoyable games, grouping isn’t really important.
Traditional Hardware Machines
The first slot machines were developed in New York in 1891, by a company named Sittman and Pitt. Existing before the computer chip, these were entirely mechanical but were still advanced feats of engineering. Popular early machines were usually based on poker, offering their symbols over five different reels.
Traditional slot machines were usually found in bars, where players would be charged a nickel to pull a lever. The first machines couldn’t pay directly, so winners informed the owner of their victory for their reward. Prizes would vary by the establishment, where common payouts included beer and cigarettes.
Over time, slot machines simplified to more common systems which offered fewer symbols and three reels. This is where fruit started to appear as symbols, which is why some slot machines are still called fruit machines to this day. Streamlining slots in this way also allowed automatic payouts, creating an explosion of popularity in machines like the world-famous Liberty Bell.
As the years and decades progressed, the technology behind slot machines expanded, and slots would journey across the world. From bars, slots became a mainstay of casinos, and with the later introduction of computer chips, they could become much more complex.
Slot machines have taken over, and when personal computing and the internet started to take off in the 1990s, eager developers were there to test the waters. In 1996, the first online casinos appeared, and traditional slots entered the world wide web.
Classic Online Slots
When classic slots first arrived on the scene, they were limited by the hardware speed of computers and the slow internet connections of the time. Despite these limitations, slot games were not very demanding, so they could still offer fantastic quality to users on their limited systems.
Classic online slots closely follow the steps of their hardware forefathers. They usually involve simple gameplay systems and symbols and don’t often have complex bonus games. Thanks to the flexibility of their software, classic slots can also take their games a step further than hardware machines, with moving graphics and effects, even if this isn’t a major focus.
Online Video Slots
Online video slots are games which take the ideas from traditional and classic slots and bring them to a new level. By leaning more heavily into video and multimedia as a whole, video slots are more visually active. Often containing flashy graphics and sound, video slots can be more of a feast for the senses, though their base gameplay is usually similar.
Aside from adding additional reels, video slots are also more likely to explore more robust bonus games. These bonus games can offer free spins, open up entirely new game modes, move characters along a game board, add or remove symbols, and much more.
Progressive Slot Machines
Slot machine jackpots typically offer fixed payouts that are won when matching the rarest symbols. Progressive slot machine prizes work differently in the size of the prizes that can be won, and how these prizes are often paid out. Sometimes wins in progressive jackpots can be claimed by matching special symbols, while other times they can payout randomly on any winning spin.
The total prize pool in progressive slots grows over time, hence the name. The pool grows by adding a small amount from a player’s bet into the jackpot winnings. This jackpot is added to by many different players, and often in many different games. Over time, progressive jackpots in these types of slots can grow to enormous sizes. Following a win, the jackpot goes back to the minimum and is built on again.
These are slots which offer more paylines than traditional slots. Over time, the number of paylines in slots grew from the starting single payline up to offering five to ten as standard. Many modern types of slots go far above this number, such as those with the Megaways feature.
Megaways slots usually offer between 242 to 117,659 paylines. More paylines mean more ways to win, which is why slots like these can afford to add more reels and more symbols. Balancing the number of symbols and paylines means the odds of winning multi-line slots are around the same as winning traditional slot games.
3D Slot Games
The first types of online slots were 2D by necessity because it was difficult to make early 3D browser games run well on older hardware. 3D slot games evolved as more powerful computers became standard, where they first took over as special types of video slots.
3D slot games play the same as other forms of slot games, only with graphics that use 3D models instead of 2D images. The added third dimension lets developers add another degree of depth to the games, which is often utilised in the type of online slots with involved bonus games.
In regular play, a 3D slot game could offer two virtual enemies facing each other in combat, where wins with certain symbols could trigger different attacks. The bonus game could then take this a step further, creating a more detailed battleground with impressive 3D effects.
Though the use of 3D models makes these games more demanding than their 2D cousins, the power of modern systems means these games usually won’t struggle on even low-powered devices. The different types of slots in 3D are all designed to work on powerful computers or older smartphones, so developers are sure to make their titles well-optimised.
VR Slot Machines
Virtual reality slot machines are some of the rarest types of online slots, but they’re likely to grow more popular as VR technology becomes more widespread. VR slot machines play similarly to other types of slots with the addition of placing the player within the action.
In a VR slot, a player might be able to use motion controls to physically pull a level, or take a front-row seat to the virtual world of the slot game. There’s an immense amount of potential in VR slots, but the rarity of VR headsets means they’re not a big focus of developers, at least not yet.
VR slot machines have potential advantages over other types of VR games thanks to the nature of slot game design. No matter the type of slots, these titles have smaller gameplay systems which place the player in a smaller environment. This is important because VR is extremely demanding on hardware, especially in open-world experiences like adventure video games.
Because slots are smaller, they don’t require the amount of processing power that other VR experiences do. This makes them a great fit for entry-level devices and lower-powered host platforms like mobile phones. These factors could drive VR slot games to grow faster than most other forms of VR gaming experiences.
Possible Future Slot Machines
VR individual titles are becoming more common, but the next generation of virtual and augmented reality could take slot games even further. On the VR front, it might one day be possible for online casino websites to develop virtual casinos inside which their slot games can be placed.
Imagine putting on a headset, and walking through a range of slot games far greater than anything possible in even the largest physical casinos. Players could theoretically even modify the layout of the machines themselves, to place their favourites in prime positions. Going a step further could open up possibilities to engage with the vcirtual avatars of other players, making the experience a social one.
Augmented reality could work by placing virtual slot machines directly in front of a player. This would be like carrying a slot machine in your pocket, creating a new level of engaging experiences at home or out and about. Whether in your own game room or on your favourite bench in the park, AR could let you place a realistic machine anywhere.
The technology and tools to make these concepts a reality isn’t quite there yet, but at the current rate of slot and casino development, it’s just a matter of time before they become possible. What VR and AR could do to the popularity of physical casinos when this tech finally does roll around remains to be seen, but the effect is likely to be profound.
What are the different types of slot machines?
Though the lines between slot machines are often blurred, we can still separate slot machines into a few key varieties. These include traditional, classic, video, progressive, multi-line, 3D, and VR slots.
How do video slots differ from traditional slots?
Video slots tend to involve more multimedia than their traditional and classic cousins. They often feature more reels and symbols, while also focusing more on a diverse range of bonus games.
What are the most popular types of online slots?
Video slots are the most popular types of online slots, but the blurred lines between slot games often come into play here. The biggest video slots today can also incorporate 3D graphics and progressive jackpots, as slot developers try to create titles that leverage the best of what slots have to offer.