Video slots gained international popularity on casino floors in the mid-1990s, although they initially appeared some twenty years earlier. The major shift in usage was due in part to the incorporation of dozens of pay lines; where in the past it was limited to one. Additionally, bonus slot rounds and advanced, immersive graphics and music helped fuel the widespread interest.
Today, video slots constitute the majority of slot games; in online casinos and on traditional casino floors. The hottest new games are invariably video slots. Promotions coupling popular TV shows and movie releases with the slots are enticing and pervasive marketing tactics.
How Are Video Slots Different?
Video slots were distinct in many ways from their predecessor, the well-known, “one-armed bandit” models replete with symbolic fruit or the number seven on the pay line. While these three-reel slots were electronically controlled with random number generators as early as the 1970s, the principle remained the same; to line up three reels across one central pay line. Since possible aggregate combinations were not tremendously high, players won fairly often. So casinos, in turn, kept jackpots small. Ultimately, slots lost their appeal and gamblers sought out the more complex rule sets of table games and the socialization that accompanied them.
Video slots made slot machines complex and attractive again. The first significant development was the increase in pay lines. Twenty-five pay lines are now standard on video slots, but some go as high as 100. Why are more pay lines important?
First, they increased the player’s probability of recouping part of the original wager, which reduced the number of “pure loss” spins. So players who gamble for comps might profit with partial-win spins in the end.
The increase in pay lines also added the possibility of much larger jackpot amounts. For example, the Wheel of Fortune games contained jackpots that start at $100,000 and regularly increased into the millions of dollars.
These lucrative jackpots generated an excitement and crowd enthusiasm that the relatively small jackpots of classic slots never did.
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Most importantly, the computerized nature of video slots made it possible to link machines together to feed progressive jackpots. In some cases, jackpots were linked between different casinos and different parts of the world!
Slot Bonus Rounds
Bonus rounds added another layer of player interaction. This development enticed players to spin in a variety of ways. While the odds were longer than in the base game, hitting the bonus round let the player recoup losses or move even faster through the game levels. Bonus games also added a social element when slots were strategically linked together on the floor. With this configuration, all players entered the bonus round simultaneously, increasing floor excitement.
Finally but not to be discounted, there are the sensory stimulation video slots afforded. The graphics and videos were modern, the music was appealing and some players even picked games based solely on the sound effects.
One challenge video slots presented, especially to a novice, is that the presentation was a lot more confusing than traditional three-reel slots. It's was not immediately clear what constituted a pay line, or what the payouts were to the player. This information was typically displayed prominently on the old machines. Video slots also didn’t give information on bonus rounds initially which forced players to educate themselves.
This was a significant advantage for online slots gaming. In a traditional casino, there was no way to experiment with a video slot game other than placing money into it. Online casinos almost always offer a free mode where one has unlimited access to the game without placing a bet. Clearly, there was also payout, but it increased the player’s fluency.
Odds and Return to Player (RTP) Percentages
The house always has an advantage regardless of which video slot game is played. It's also more difficult to calculate the payback percentage of video slots since the house can hide a lot of crucial information. Online players have more information of this nature available to them than players on casino floors do, but you will find many online slot payback percentages can only be roughly estimated at best.
There’s Nothing Old-Fashioned About Today’s Video Slots
Slot Machines have come a long way from the iconic fruit and bar one-arm bandit. Today, they are a multi-media, super-powered gaming system. Ultimately, video slots supply excitement, enjoyment, and fun. Their variety is their strength and their appeal depends entirely on the player’s perspective. Since the risk is minimal to investigate the different options, a wise player will search around for the game that suits him best.