Best and Worst Slot Releases of 2018
The forum members are the ones who tasked to decide on the best games of 2018, some of our members have been actively playing casino games online for over a decade – hell some for nearly two decades (old timer over here).
From Dunover – Slotmeister:
Slot Releases & The CM Poll For Slot Of The Year 2018!
Well hello readers!
2018 has certainly been a notable, even controversial year as far as new slots and developers are concerned. Last year Big Time Gaming were the most popular developer and had the winning slot, Bonanza. Prior to this, Play’n Go won in 2016 with Book Of Dead which raised more than a few eyebrows considering it was a barely-concealed copy of Novo’s classic Book Of Ra Deluxe!
This last year has been dominated by high-volatility slots, primarily of the Megaways game mechanic from BTG which has been latterly licensed out to Blueprint Gaming. So the 2018 poll was a surprise in many ways as a Blueprint slot did actually win, but not a Megaways game; a simple 20-line slot of super-high variance called Napoleon – Rise Of An Empire was the clear winner. This was actually created by another Australian developer called Reel Time (not to be confused with the US-facing Real Time Gaming) and is part of their Colossal Payout series. And colossal payouts it most certainly did produce:
Blueprint were also the developer with most points, although as with the Book Of Dead result in 2016 this is somewhat a hollow victory as the bulk of their score was created by Megaways games which they make under the BTG licence. In 2019 Red Tiger will also be developing Megaways games so this could be interesting next year but I suspect that players may rebel against this constant barrage of the same mechanic and demand something more original. We’ll see.
So moving on from Megaways, what other games or developers jumped out as us in the last 12 months? Well, we certainly have an obvious candidate here with Push Gaming who produced relatively few games and all bar one were noticed and given votes by the Casinomeister membership, which is quite spectacular especially when viewed in the context of the big developers mentioned further down this article. Again, these were mainly high-volatility games and these too raised not a little controversy when players observed the bonuses were pre-scripted and running graphics according to a RNG outcome already chosen. Nothing dodgy about that, it’s within the rules and the games are still random and fair but nevertheless many players felt this should have been made more obvious; there was a heated discussion too.
Play’n Go reaffirmed their status as one of the top developers for members here with many popular releases including Legacy Of Egypt and Rise Of Olympus while Big Time Gaming had two of their five releases in the top 10 but were well down on last year’s performance mainly due to the facts mentioned above. They also made the most reviled slot I ever saw in these polls, with their Book Of Gods game getting an unprecedented 11 nominations for the TOSSER award of 2018 (The Overwhelmingly Shittiest Slot Ever Released). This is however very unusual for possibly the most progressive developer of the last few years and I confidently predict their next game Holy Diver will be the total opposite – it’s surely a classic in the making. Here it is – Holy Driver slot
Now I’m afraid the topic invites yet more controversy, a word which figures heavily this year. There has been an explosion in slots using the ‘feature purchase’ system whereby for a multiple of the base stake of say 50 or 100 the player can purchase a feature trigger and then in some cases can actually gamble it afterwards at the risk of losing it all.
An example is BTG’s Extra Chilli where for 50x bet you can buy a trigger for the free games, usually awarding 8 spins, an amount which may not bode well for an increasing multiplier mechanic during the games. You can now gamble this for 12 spins or more and lose everything doing so on the basis of a 50-50 chance. Many players consider this to be irresponsible gambling and the fact that most slots offering this facility state their RTP is slightly higher when exclusively playing via the purchase seems to have inflamed feelings too.
There are of course two sides here – the UKGC has recently prevented FOBTs in land-based bookmakers from having single game stakes of over £2 but then again do not forbid non-feature purchase slots from having stakes of up to 500 or even 1000 a spin. I’ve a feeling there will be more to this tale in the coming year.
The final chapter of 2018 is possibly the most meaningful – what of the major Big 6 developers? Well last year was pretty dreadful as far as their releases went and it’s regrettable that 2018 was even worse with their complacency and lack of invention, alongside some pretty terrible maths models and mechanics again apparent.
There has been a noticeable improvement by NetEntertainment though to be fair, with Vikings getting more than a few player votes alongside Halloween Jack with BerryBurst being a vast improvement on their ubiquitous Starburst. Other than that their games were pretty anonymous. Playtech were the most prolific developer and were ignored in general although along with Novomatic part of the reason for this could well be the limited amount of multi-platform casinos offering their software, leading to limited player exposure. You most certainly cannot use that excuse for the remaining 3 bigger developers though!
Microgaming have had yet another dismal year, with most of their platform releases being those from smaller in-house development teams such as Triple Edge and Just For The Win and they were pretty dire. There is one glimmer of hope for them though (although that ‘controversial’ adjective is again imminent!) with Book Of Oz. While not making the cut for the 2018 poll, I’ve a feeling it will score well next year and the title may well give away the reason – yes! it’s another version of Book Of Ra Deluxe. When a talent show winner gets a Top 5 single with a cover version, is it the song that sells or the singer themselves? I think we all know the answer to that.
IGT seem to have lost many popular online games in recent years such as Super Hoot Loot, Fortress Of Fortunes and of course the classic Cleopatra 2. Yet again they’ve failed to replace them and churned out tens of generic and low-potential games, although sister company High 5 Gaming have attempted to copy one or two of those old classics, if you can find anywhere to play them.
This leads me to the final one, WMS. You find WMS and other developers under the Scientific Gaming umbrella such as Bally and Barcrest at numerous casinos, yet not one of their games was considered in the poll which is rather shocking given some of the stonking good slots they’ve produced before, such as Bruce Lee, Kronos, Montezuma and of course the infamous Rhino. WMS and Bally did both get a mention in the TOSSER nominations though; Bally’s Wonder Woman Bullets and Bracelets slot was a horrible waste of a themed game while WMS’ Zeus 2 can only be described as a waste of bandwidth. I still believe the bigger developers are resting on their laurels and are bloated and lazy as a result. All I can say is “look over your shoulders guys…”
So there we have it. A year where it appears high-variance slots with big potential are king. You may ask whether this is down to player demand for those mechanics, or is it down to the fact they are played so much that developers simply feed the need? I believe the latter to be true as when examining all the games released this year those HV ones are still a minority. Casino customers play them through choice and like to have belief they can win very big but also get a good turnaround on their money and some entertainment at the same time. It’s a demand-led market so I don’t anticipate this changing any time soon, although like many I’d like to see a new alternative to (ahem!) Megaways. Whether this transpires in 2019, we’ll have to wait and see…..
Happy Slotting for 2019 everyone!
For a complete list of the results, click here: SLOT OF THE YEAR 2018! RESULTS!
Thank you Dunover and to the folks who took part in our survey.
iGaming Software Experience Historical Awards
Best iGaming Software Experience 2017 – Big Time Gaming
Best iGaming Software Experience 2016 – Play N Go
Best iGaming Experience 2015 – NetEnt
Best Gaming Experience 2014 – WMS
Best Gaming Experience 2013 – WMS
Best Gaming Experience 2012 – NetEnt
Best Games Award 2011 – Leander Games
Best Software Supplier Award 2011 – NetEnt
Best Games Award 2010 – 3Dice
Best Software Award 2010 – Microgaming
Best Software Award 2009 – Wagerworks
Best Software Award 2008 – Cryptologic
Best Software Award 2007 – Wagerworks
Best Software Award 2006 – Microgaming
Best Software Award 2005 – Microgaming