Game Developers and RTPs: What You Need To Know
By Alex Smith, Last updated Feb 2, 2023
There’s been a lot of discussion in the forum recently around RTPs – specifically, that certain online casinos are choosing to offer lower RTPs than others. Despite many players thinking the RTP is insignificant over a short space of time, you’d be surprised to learn just how much difference a lower RTP can make – and in this post, we’re going to be taking a look at some things you need to know when it comes to RTPs.
We’ll kick things off with a look at what the RTP actually is – and why it matters – and we’ll then be showing you a breakdown of some mainstream game developers that offer varying RTPs. We’ll also cover some of the top RTP slots from a few of the leading game developers, so you can easily identify the best games to play, if you’re in search of high RTP slots!
What Is RTP And Why Does It Matter?
RTP stands for return to player, and it’s a figure you’ll see in virtually every online and offline video slot on planet earth. In short, it’s meant as a way for players and iGaming operators to determine how much money a slot machine will take from them/make them over the long-run. For example, a slot machine with an RTP of 97% will – on average – payout $97 from every $100 wagered. This means the casino can expect a profit of $3. A slot machine with an RTP of 90%, on the other hand, will pay out – again, on average – just $90 for every $100 wagered.
When you consider many players put thousands of spins through a slot in a single session, it’s not hard to see how these figures can end up becoming quite significant – and with the general cost of doing business in the iGaming industry increasing, some operators have been looking to offer lower RTP versions of slots to increase profit margins. However, there’s been reports of shady behaviour around this; some sites, for example, have lowered the RTP of popular games without informing players – while one global bookmaker was actually running games at a lower RTP than they were advertising!
It’s clear the iGaming industry is changing – but do all developers offer different RTP versions of their games? Thankfully not, and below, we’ll take a look at some of the ones that do.
Which Developers Offer Different RTPs?
Arguably the biggest game developer in the “lower RTP controversy” is Play’n Go, and for many years they’ve offered virtually all of their games in a number of different RTPs. This allows operators to choose the game version that best suits their business model. While many online casinos do still try to offer the best RTP version, many are now opting for lower RTPs (especially casinos licensed in Curacao, where they don’t even need to display the RTP), and this is a worrying trend, especially for lovers of games like Book of Dead and Reactoonz. Play’nGo offer (generally speaking) 5 different RTPs on all of their slots, ranging from 88% to 96%.
That’s a significant difference, especially when you consider some of the larger online casinos will see millions of spins put through these games every single week. For example, a casino running Book of Dead at 96% can expect to make $4 from every $100 wagered, while those running it at 88% can expect to make $12 for every $100 wagered – three times as much money.
Red Tiger Gaming are another developer who offer variable RTPs, and again, they offer a sliding scale for operators to choose from. Thankfully, it appears – at the time of writing – that most UK-focused sites tend to run the high RTP versions, but to bring up Curacao once more, they appear to be running some of the worst RTP versions.
StakeLogic, Pariplay – and more recently NetEnt – also offer varying RTPs for operators to choose from. Some of the game developers who don’t include Big Time Gaming, Microgaming, Quickspin, 4ThePlayer and Elk Studios.
Thunderkick would have been included in that latter list too – although their most recent release, Pink Elephants 2, was released with two RTP settings; 94% and 96%. This is a shame, and it signifies the developer may be “testing the waters” for the future. It remains to be seen whether Thunderkick’s future releases will come with varying RTPs or not.
So Why Should You Care About Lower RTPs?
In short, because – even in the short term – lower RTPs give you far-less play time (which, in course, means you have a worse chance of hitting a big win.) For example, imagine Book of Dead running at an RTP of 96%. Assuming you start with 100 times your total bet, you should – on average – expect to get 2,476 spins before your balance hits zero. (Of course, variance plays a BIG part here – it’s quite possible you wouldn’t make it past the first 200/300 spins!) However, that’s the expected average number of spins.
Now, if we take that same Book of Dead game – but look at the one running at a 91% RTP, the number of expected spins drops dramatically, to 1,101. That’s an incredible change, and it’s more than HALF. In fact, it contributes to a reduction in playtime by a whopping 55.53%, with 1,375 fewer spins.
It can be incredibly tempting to look at RTP and think “oh, well it only really matters in the long run”, but it really can affect your play – even if you’re just putting a couple of hundred spins through the game. Then, you’ve also got to remember that hitting a bonus round on a lower RTP game means you’re less likely to win the top prize too.. so…
Always Try And Choose The Highest RTP Games You Can Find.
Thankfully, all reputable online casinos (including those licensed by the UK’s Gambling Commission and the Maltese Gaming Authority) must display the RTP of every game they offer. This information can usually be found within the game’s help files. If you are struggling to find it, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the customer support team – they should be able to provide you with the information you’re looking for.
Which Slots Have The Best RTPs?
Below, we’re going to be giving you a rundown of the top 10 slots, offering the best RTPs currently on the market. Please remember though; always double check the RTP of a game before you play. Software providers may end up changing their RTPs at any time, and it doesn’t appear as though casinos have any legal requirement to inform customers when switching to a lower RTP model, so it’s worth the few seconds it takes to check and ensure you’re playing the highest RTP version possible.
#10 – Jack Hammer II – NetEnt – 97.1%
Jack Hammer II: Fishy Business is the first NetEnt slot to appear on this “top 10” list (and it won’t be the last!), and this is a timeless classic from the developer. The slot’s base-game offers action on any winning spin, as all winning symbols lock in place, before a free re-spin is awarded. Once the re-spin has completed, any new symbols that form a win are also locked in place, and this re-spin feature continues until either the screen is filled or no more wins are formed. Landing five or more of the Claw scatter symbols will also trigger the free-spins feature, where wins are multiplied by 3X! With an RTP of 97.1%, Jack Hammer II offers great play time, and it’s a fun, exciting game, too.
#9 – Couch Potato – Microgaming – 97.43%
Microgaming may be best known for their hit titles like Immortal Romance, Thunderstruck II and Six Acrobats, but they’ve released a few pretty decent slots under the radar too – and Couch Potato may just be one such game – although it’s more of a classic fruity-like game than a video slot, so be prepared! With an RTP of 97.43% the game offers great play time, and it’s packed full with wilds and multipliers, multiplying wins up to 5X. Couch Potato isn’t up everyone’s street (and indeed it’s not even available at all online casinos), but for those in search of games with a great RTP – it’s a good choice.
#8 – Retro Reels Extreme Heat – Microgaming – 97.5%
Next up is another slot from Microgaming, and Retro Reels Extreme Heat is a 5-reel, 3-row video slot with a total of 30 paylines. The RTP of this game is 97.5%, and it’s one of the software provider’s older titles, so expect some somewhat less glamorous graphics than you may be used to. The main attraction of Retro Reels Extreme Heat is the free-spins feature, activated by landing three scatter symbols on the reels. You will then receive up to 20 free rounds, and during the bonus, your wins are subject to a 2X multiplier – not bad, when you factor in the RTP too.
#7 – Kings of Chicago – 97.8%
In our opinion, this is one of NetEnt’s most underrated games, and it’s built to emulate the look and feel of a poker table. While it is built around a 5-reel, 3-row format, and there are paylines (just five, to be precise), it really does feel as though you’re playing a game of cards – and it’s really good fun, especially if you’re somewhat into Texas Hold’em. If three scatter symbols appear anywhere in view you’ll trigger the main bonus round, during which all wins are multiplied by 2X. Plus, with an RTP of 97.8%, what’s not to love?
#6 – Starmania – NextGen Gaming – 97.87%
We were surprised to see NextGen Gaming making an appearance on our list (a developer who, recently, have become known for offering some pretty low RTPs in their slots), but Starmania is one of their classics – and with an RTP of 97.87%, it offers fantastic bang for your buck. An outer-space theme sets a dynamic mood, and the 5-reel, 3-row game comes complete with 10 fixed paylines. You’ll also find a bonus round and a gamble feature, both of which can lead to some decent wins if luck’s on your side!
#5 – Blood Suckers – NetEnt – 98%
Blood Suckers is one of the most well-known slots of all time – and not because it’s a great game, but because it offers one of the highest RTPs in the industry. Indeed, many online casinos do not allow you to play Blood Suckers using bonus funds, as the chance of clearing bonus wagering requirements is simply too likely. (That’s also the case with most of the remaining slots on our list.) Blood Suckers is packed with action, and you’ll find a relatively decent free-spins feature, and there’s also the Vampire Slayer bonus, where you’re tasked with wiping out vicious creatures in return for cash prizes.
#4 – 1429 Uncharted Seas – Thunderkick – 98.6%
Another game that’s almost always excluded from casino bonus wagering, 1429 Uncharted Seas by Thunderkick is actually a pretty decent game, and it’s also capable of delivering some big wins too, especially during the bonus. Landing three or more scatter symbols anywhere in view activates this bonus round, and it’s possible to start with as many as 50 free spins! During the bonus, all wilds expand to fill the entire reel they land on, so it’s technically possible to land a full screen of wilds here!
#3 – Jackpot 6000 – NetEnt – 98.8%
Yet another NetEnt slot to make the list, Jackpot 6000 was “brought back to life” when the developer decided to release their “touch” version of the game – a mobile-optimized version of the slot that can easily be played in both portrait and landscape modes from mobile devices. It boasts an RTP of up to 98.8%, depending on how you play it. In the name of fairness, however, we should also point out that the RTP can drop to 95.10%, if you’re not playing optimally.
#2 – Mega Joker – NetEnt – 99%
Mega Joker has long been seen as one of NetEnt’s greatest creations – despite looking relatively basic. It’s a classic 3-row, 3-reel game, and with just five paylines it’s reminiscent of the kind of slot machine you’d find in a bar 50 miles outside of Vegas. However, with an incredible RTP of 99%, Mega Joker has long been favoured by players, and it’s also very much capable of dishing out some big wins – and ideal “go between” for those wanting some good win-potential on a slot with a high RTP.
#1 – Goblins Cave – Playtech – 99.32%
You may not have expected to see a Playtech slot offering the highest RTP – but here we are, and Goblins Cave tops our list of the highest RTP slots you can play in 2020. (We should point out that in order to achieve the top RTP you’ll need to be playing at the maximum coin value. Failure to do so will see the machine running at an RTP of 94.5%.) The game is relatively basic, built around a 3X3 layout, but it offers a theme we don’t see all that often, and there’s also a relatively decent bonus game which is triggered by landing three of the Lantern scatter symbols on a payline. You then enter a “pick me bonus”, where you simply pick from different treasure chests to win cash prizes. It may not sound too exciting, but with an RTP of 99.32% – can you really complain?
Conclusion + Something To Remember
One thing we should point out is that – generally speaking – games with higher RTPs (like the ones we covered above) aren’t going to be capable of dishing out those 1,000X+ wins. It’s why you don’t see the likes of Bonanza, Dead or Alive 2, Jammin’ Jars or Montezuma in there – games which we commonly see discussed in the forum.
We should also point out that – again, generally speaking – the higher a games RTP, the lower in volatility it will be. This means you can expect to see quite frequent wins, but the size of these wins will be quite a bit smaller.
The games shown above are also certainly not the norm; in general, 96% or above is relatively good for an online video slot, and some players may consider playing a 95% RTP game if they have a particular attachment to it. However, going much lower than that means you’re potentially jeopardizing both winnings and play time, so it’s worth doing your research and always checking the RTP of the slot machine you’re looking to play.
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