If we were to pick one category of online casino slots whose popularity is on the continuous rise, then video slots would be the ones. From terrestrial casinos to Internet-based facilities, these games are loved by players from all over the world, and chances are, they will always be. What represents the very essence of video slot machines, how do they work? Basically, the mechanism is more than simple- you have some rows and reels filled with colorful symbols, and various command buttons to initiate them. All it takes is to press the “spin” button and the action is on. But, there’s much more to these machines than it meets the eyes, which inspired us to dig deeper and explore this category of games. If you are curious to get to know video slots closer, stay with us and enjoy!
Video Slots Introduction, Facts and Guide
Looking for the simplest way to define, video slots represent the digital replica of traditional land-based one-armed bandits. While the original machine had mechanical components, this one is completely digitalized and even capable of functioning independently from a player- thanks to the auto-play option.
Now, you probably wonder who invented the first machine ever?
The “guilty one” was Charles Fey, and he probably didn’t have the slightest idea how popular his invention will turn out to be. It happened a long time ago, in 1895, when Liberty Bell was presented, featuring Liberty Bell (hence the name), card deck symbols, and horseshoes.
Realizing how ingenious this device was, many tried to copy it, and the next one which stood out from all the imitations was Operator’s Bell. But this one was no ordinary gambling machine, as it featured quite a peculiar attachment- a bubble gum dispenser.
This addition was optional, and those bubble games flavors were in relation with the symbols on the reels. So, if someone would align the same fruit symbols, as a reward, he/she would get bubble gum with such flavor.
So, in case you have ever wondered how come fruits symbols are so widely spread as symbols in slot games, now you know the answer- it’s the bubble gums’ fault!
Furthermore, the manufactured continued the copycat trend, but each one of them tried to upgrade the machine and the entire mechanism. Following Operator’s Bell, the next device which attracted the attention was Money Honey presented by Bally.
Step by step, as the modern technologies’ popularity exploded, the world was presented with a new form of entertainment- digital gaming products. Microgaming’s Cash Splash was the first online slot with Jackpot and it was launched in 1988.
What came after that revolutionary product are video slots we know and play today. Having in mind that the process of development is continuous, the providers of online content keep pushing the limits all the time, treating players with amazing achievements.
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Video Slots vs. Land Based Machines- What’s the Difference?
The first and most obvious difference is the appearance. Those good old one-armed bandits exist in the form of physical machines with all the accompanying elements including the lever to pull and activate the reels.
A bit more contemporary variant sees a bunch of buttons, and even an auto-spin option, but just like its senior counterpart, it’s a machine.
As for the most modern variant of video slots…
…the ones we play in online casinos, they exist only in this digital form, naturally. You just “enter” any virtual entertainment establishment by pressing “join”, “register” or something similar, and you start playing the games.
And this is where we come to the first of a couple of significant distinctions- demo mode!
There’s no such thing as “I just wanna see how it works” with land-based slot machines. To spin the reels, one is required to insert a coin or use some sort of ticket.
However, Internet-based games DO offer the opportunity to check the games out without being obliged to make a deposit first. This option is known as demo mode, trial mode, or free play.
Not having to pay to play is already more than great, and it’s an excellent opportunity for newbies to play video slots for free see how it work. Check our online slot reviews for more informations about top video slots and casino games in general. Previous experiences of players shared on our platform will help you to pick the best option for you.
The next difference- win calculations.
What both of these have in common is the random outcome of each spin- there’s no way to know what will the next round bring, as everything is random.
Even though this is more or less the first thing that players learn about this sort of games, still that didn’t stop them from trying to find the way to cheat on slot machines. As for the digital version, a random number generator (RNG) is used to determine the results.
A machine having full control over such an important part of the game?
This, expectedly, raised numerous suspicions, and players were doubtful about the fairness of the game. For that reason, various testing labs appeared, to ensure consumers that the system is not tampered with. Making sure safety and fairness are at the highest level possible, these checks are performed on a regular basis- at least that’s how reputable operators do.
Video Slots Payouts Explained
So, aside from selecting games in casinos who have their RNGs tested regularly, what is the next aspect to pay attention to when picking the right video slot for you?
It’s the return to player (RTP) percentage.
This percentage describes how much money a machine will return taking into account all the wagered money. Let’s use an example to explain this more precisely- if someone places $100 worth bets (in varying amounts like 100x $1, 50x $2, or whatever else), and the selected machine has an RTP of 94%, this means one can expect $94 in winnings.
Of course, it’s not like those juicy wins will be delivered the very moment you place a bet. You need to be aware that the RTP is THEORETICAL and it is calculated over a longer period of time.
So- you, some John, a Mary, each one of you from his/her own country can play the same game with RTP of 96%, and place the same bet of $100, but that doesn’t mean that the three of you will end up with $96.
Cooperating closely with RTP is hit frequency.
As the name itself indicates, this represents the frequency of winning combination. Let’s say a game has hit a frequency of 11%. This means that of all time you spend spinning its reels, 11% will be “reserved” for some winning combos.
In terms of hit frequency, it’s video poker that leads the way, as the percentage is surprisingly high, approximately 45%. When it comes to slots, it can be as low as 3%, but some average is between 20 and 35%.
One more crucial element is volatility AKA variance.
This serves to explain how often can a punter expect a game to cash out, and how big those rewards will be. There are two major divisions- slots with low and high variance.
The ones with low variance are famous for producing frequent winnings, but the payouts are rather small. Opposite from that, high variance titles have larger but less frequent payouts.
For that reason, former ones are particularly consumed by low-rollers, while those who like placing somewhat bigger bets will try their luck with high volatility video slots.
To summarize, when selecting a video slot for yourself, you need to analyze its return to player (RTP) percentage, hit frequency, and volatility.
Which are the Most Important Elements of Video Slots?
All the above-mentioned elements represent some sort of “backstage” of video slots. Those are the components we cannot see, but they have a great impact on gameplay and winning potential.
The layout before us comprises of reels and rows, as well as paylines. What all of them have in common is that their number can vary, not just from one title to another, but even in a single game.
When it comes to reels, video slots usually three to five, at least that’s how the majority of traditional games look like. But nowadays you have some extremely powerful features which can boost the number of reels and expand the entire grid.
As for rows, those are displayed horizontally and represent the number of potential winning combos. Just like with the reels, the most common number is 3 to 5, but this can undergo the same growing transformations thanks to versatile features.
Wanting to come up with more winning opportunities…
…developers got the idea to construct paylines. So, instead of just three, you could have as many as 100 potential combos (or even more), depending on how creative the producer was when it comes to the shapes of those lines.
But why stop at that, when you can have MORE ways to grab some rewards?
That’s right, the next achievement were ways, but not just in one direction but in both as well. Those both ways pay gradually evolved in Megaways, which can provide jaw-dropping 531.431 ways. Or even more!
Be sure that the list of achievements won’t end with these, as developers are constantly seeking more and more new ways and options to leave players speechless.
Any other elements?
Of course, there’s a plethora of them, and just like with all the previously mentioned, their number and powers are continuously being upgraded.
Among the first ones to appear were Wilds and Scatters. Wild acts as a replacement for all the other symbols (excluding Scatter), and together with other symbols creates winning combos. Scatter is somewhat mightier, as it can trigger other features, such as free spins and multipliers.
And, yes, that big one you’ve been expecting all along- Jackpot.
Making the action even more challenging is the fact that there are multiple types of Wilds (Sticky, Expanding, Walking, Stacked, Colossal to name a few), and other symbols also come with some expanded properties.
To make it simpler for punters to find them, operators will usually categorize slots by these features, or even by themes, if the portfolio is gigantic and colorful.
So, even though we are witnessing some indeed memorable and authentic achievements, we are still merely scratching the surface. We can only assume how breath-taking some future improvements in video slots will be.
Which Themes Are Used in Video Slot Games?
As we’ve already told you, fruits and card deck symbols were the ones to break the ice but to make sure players don’t get bored with the same visuals over and over again, providers needed to diversify it.
This led to the immense versatility of topics, and the most common ones are:
- Games inspired by ancient cultures and civilizations (China, Japan, Egypt…)
- Animal themed games
- Slots featuring celebrities, or scenes from popular movies and TV shows
- Titles dedicated to some holidays (Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, etc.)
- Alien and space-inspired releases
- Mysteries and adventures
These are just some of the most frequently present topics, but the new ones keep emerging all the time. From quite simple illustrations and a modest spectrum of colors, video slots gradually transformed into true works of art, bringing a fully immersive experience and life-like characters.
Spicing up these stories additionally is music and sound effects, which contribute to an overall exciting atmosphere. You will even encounter slot games that feature genuine soundtracks, with some of the members of worldwide famous bends as main characters. Needless to say, such installments look and sound spectacular.
Final Thoughts - Play Free Video Slots Online
Now that you know all there is about video slots, you probably expect us to give you some sort of secret winning formula. “How to become a slot machine millionaire?” comes to your mind.
The last thing we want is to burst your bubbles, but do know that no one can tell you that, because- it’s all pure luck!
In the end, the only thing you can do is inform on all the crucial components so as to understand better how video slots work and find the one which fits your demand. We’ve got you covered with the former part, now get down to business and explore some of the best online casinos from our directory to find the perfect video slot for you. We hope you enjoyed our insightful guide on video slots, their elements, features, and themes!