Tips Understanding the difference between base game and feature


Meister Member
Noone can change the fact that there will be features that pay almost nothing. But in order to be able to set up the proper expectations, based on the posts and questions related to this topic in the forum, I thought it would make sense to write a short note about understanding how the payout percentage of a particular slot is put together from base game and feature payout.

The background behind this is the following. The overall variance of a slot which you can roughly judge by the paytable will not tell all the facts about that game. You need to look at more aspect about how the game will play. There are some games which have high variance in both the base game and in the feature, and there are some other games which would pay out a reasonable chunk if not the majority of their overall return in the feature. By choosing the right game, you can find a slot which is closer to your expectations and gambling habits.

Here are some Microgaming examples for games that have overall high variance, but there is not that much of a difference between the base game and the feature variance:
Lucky Witch
Break da Bank again
The Grand Journey
In general, games which have stacked wilds or high multiplier in the base game and do not have a reasonable extra feature in free spins tend to fall into this category.
What does it mean for you?
Select these slots if you think a slot should pay out nice hits even without getting the feature. Do not get disappointed if you spend hundreds of spins getting the feature that pays less than a nice hit in the base game.

Examples for games that will pay out poorly in the main game if you do not get the feature.

Santa's Wild Ride
Avalon and clones
Isis and Clones
Loaded and clones
In general, games which have a high free spins multiplier or have a significant extra like stacked wilds in the free spin will tend to fulfil your expectations in the feature.
What does it mean for you?
Select these slots if you think that the heart and excitement of a slot is the feature. You tend to play a game until getting the feature, and expect the butter on your bread there. You are OK if you need to get more features until you hit the big one, but the big one should worth the ride.

Examples for slots without free spins offering picking games with high potential
Bars and stripes
Pharao's tombs
What you need to know about these games. The fact that there is no free spins feature built in will save some of the potential payout to the picking game and the base game. If you like features, but rather prefer to have the excitement of a big payout in the picking game or a nice hit in the base game without waiting for all the free spins to complete, this is your choice. But do not forget, in order to offer you the big one in the picking game, many times if will need to give you less.

Games with multiple bonus rounds

Lumber cats
Games which have two bonus rounds and do not have stacked wilds
Since two reasonable bonus games needs to be offered with enough excitement in the base game play as well, payouts in the bonus games cannot be extraordinary. Do not forget that at the end the slot needs to pay out a fixed percentage. If the way you would like to enjoy a slot is to get more bonus rounds in a sequence with a medium payout, these might be your choice. However do not expect mega-wins in the bonus for these type of slots.

I hope you found this note useful. I can continue the list for each category if there is a concrete question about your favorite game.


Well-Known Member
I play mostly High variance games and a HUGE part of the RTP is actually concentrated in the Free Spins. What you must take note as well is that many of the games in the Class of Santa's Wild ride will pay poorly in the base game and in the feature for long streaks.

DOA from NetEnt is a perfect example. The Sheriff badges pay roughly 100X+ bet but they are very very rare in normal spins. The feature on this occasion forms a massive chunk of the RTP.


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