At the beginning of the year, dionysus created a thread in the Casinomeister forum titled: ‘2019 Slot Predictions’ – and they asked the question:
“What do you foresee becoming a new or developing/advancing trend this year (whether it be maths models, games mechanics, bonus structure et c) or any fads or old models you see dying a final death…think: megaways, 9 liners and more)”
We felt it was a great question to ask – and so we collected up some of the most prominent ideas in the thread, and decided to make a blog post, talking about a few of the most likely/desired trends we’re going to see in 2019.
In this post, we’re going to be taking a look at Megaways, Feature Buys, Gamble Slots, and more – and we’ll look at a few of the most popular slots in each category, so that you know how these trends became so popular.
Let’s begin by taking a look at Megaways – arguably the biggest game-changer in the video slots world since the creation of the 243-ways-to-win format.
Megaways have proved to be a hugely successful game mechanic, and it’s completely changed the face of online video slots over the last year or two. Originally developed by Big Time Gaming, today, Megaways technology has been licensed out to Blueprint Gaming, Red Tiger Gaming and Storm Gaming – and other game developers, like Red Rake have built their own version of the clever game mechanic.
— You can read our Megaways guide here.
Let’s take a look at three of the most popular slots that helped push Megaways technology forward:
Bonanza: The game that ‘started it all’. While Bonanza wasn’t the first game from Big Time Gaming to utilise the Megaways game engine, it was an important turning point for the company, as it was their most successful release to date – and the lucrative free-spins round (where each win increases a multiplier) has been responsible for some mega hits, most famously one worth over 14,000X!
Diamond Mine: Diamond Mine was the first slot from Blueprint Gaming to use the Megaways mechanic – and it was the start of what’s proving to be a hugely successful licensing agreement for the developer. Diamond Mine is essentially a clone of Bonanza, with one key difference; during the base-game and the free-spins bonus, mystery symbols can appear on the reels, and these all turn into the same symbol, giving an increased chance of winning big.
Buffalo Rising: Buffalo Rising is one of the newest Megaways slots, and it’s also the first to incorporate a ‘choose your own free spins’ type of format. After triggering the free-spins, you can either take 15 spins, with a 1X multiplier, 10 spins with a 5X multiplier, or 5 spins with a 10X multiplier – or, if you want, you can risk it and choose one from each, giving you the chance of starting the bonus with 15 spins and a 10X multiplier! Clearly, there’s some crazy potential here, and it’s hardly surprising to see this game become one of the most popular releases of 2018.
It’s clear that Megaways games have been a huge success, and 2019 is going to certainly see this trend built on. Even developers that haven’t been licensed the Megaways engine are going to be coming out with their own variation of the technology – so Megaways fans have a LOT to look forward to!
Slots that incorporate a gamble feature (one that lets you gamble your feature, in the hopes of improving it) have proved controversial to players, and many say that they prey on those who struggle to gamble responsibly, while others proclaim that they’re a great way for some to improve their chances of hitting a big win, by ‘improving’ the feature. Regardless of their controversy, there’s no denying that slots that feature gambles like this are popular – and below, we’ll look at three of the most notable.
Extra Chilli: Extra Chilli was the first slot from Big Time Gaming to incorporate a gamble feature – and, essentially, it allowed players to choose the volatility level in the game, as you could choose to take 8 free-spins, or gamble all the way up to 24! The game was an interesting one, as the first two were all-or-nothing gambles, while the latter two offered a safeguard of 8 and 12 free-spins respectively, even if the gamble lost.
Vikings Unleashed: Vikings Unleashed is a game from Blueprint – and it’s perhaps one of the most controversial releases yet, due to the speed at which players can go through funds. As with many slots these days, Vikings Unleashed gives you the option to buy the bonus – and this starts you on 12 spins, with a 1X multiplier. However, you then have the option to gamble both the number of spins, and the multiplier – and you can gamble the spins all the way up to 27, and the multiplier up to 10X! Of course, this is great if you manage to reach the tops – but it appears hard to do so, and it’s not always worth the risk, so play this game with caution!
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: One of the most hyped above slot releases in recent years, Big Time Gaming’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire allows players the chance of gamble their free-spins, to try and get them up to a maximum of 50! Of course, this isn’t an easy feat to manage – but players that do manage to get their free-spins all the way to the top, can be in with the chance of scooping massive rewards, and this is, of course, thanks to the increasing (and unlimited) multiplier that grows with each win reaction during the bonus.
Games that allow players to gamble their free-spins are clearly popular. Whether or not this will remain true in 2019 remains to be seen, but, for now at least, it looks as though they’re here to stay.
Feature buy slots (i.e. games that allow you to pay a certain amount to enter the main bonus round straight away) have become increasingly popular, and today, a number of developer’s are offering feature buys, including Big Time Gaming, Blueprint Gaming and Push Gaming.
It’s a controversial addition to slots, and many players say that it’s only a matter of time until licensing bodies like the UKGC ban this type of slot altogether…
But, for now at least, they’re popular – and it’s very likely we’re going to see more and more developers building feature buys into their slots in 2019. Below, we look at a few of the popular feature buy slots out there today:
Fat Santa: Fat Santa is is Push Gaming’s first slot to incorporate a feature buy, and this clone of their hugely-successful Fat Rabbit allows players to buy directly into the feature for a total cost of 80X stake.
White Rabbit: White Rabbit was one of the first games to bring the feature buy into the market – and it’s also one of the more expensive, costing players 100X their stake to purchase the feature. Of course, the bonuses in White Rabbit have been known to pay upwards of 5,000X stake – so the feature buys can be highly-lucrative… but it’s a risk, there’s no denying that!
Genie Jackpots Megaways: Genie Jackpots Megaways was one of the most anticipated slots of last year, and many players were happy to learn it had a feature buy built into it. For a cost of 100X total stake, players can buy the bonus, and then, one of four features is awarded. While it’s often hard to win back the 100X cost of the bonus, there exist many screenshots of wins totalling upwards of 1,000X – so it’s not hard to see where the potential lies, here.
Games that allow players to buy directly into the bonus features are popular – there’s no denying that. But do they contribute towards enabling problem gambling? Are they more dangerous, than they are beneficial to players? Time will tell – although it’s likely we will see regulators like the UKGC step in in the near future, as some are already predicting.
We’ve seen in-game achievements used for many years – most famously, perhaps with Microgaming, who have built achievements into many of their most popular games. Still, Microgaming’s achievements never really caught out, purely because they didn’t actually offer players any form of monetary rewards.
This has changed over the last couple of years, and Quickspin are a great example of a provider who’ve created a success achievements engine, that rewards players.
From the Quickspin website:
“The engine makes use of six unique game events that take place in all the supplier’s slots, such as when a scatter appears or when the player has a win with two wild symbols, and rewards players with Quickspin Tokens for achieving them.
Achievements are set over four levels, and pay out at each level. Players can then cash in their tokens to trigger the game’s bonus feature, which is usually free spins but could also be re-spins, side games, and so on.
Players can track their progress, as well as claim and collect their reward on a designated page within each Quickspin slot. It is a relatively simple tool, but one that drives entertainment value and fun by giving back part of a player’s expected losses.”
While not all online casinos will ship the achievement-activated version of games, many are choosing to do so – and they generally prove to be a popular choice with players. Here’s a few of the most well-known games that use achievements:
Sakura Fortune: Sakura Fortune has proved to be one of Quickspin’s most successful releases, and it was also one of their first games to utilize the achievements feature. Achievements include entering the bonus round a certain number of times, landing a wild symbol on the screen, and more. If you manage to collect 720 of the achievement coins, you can trigger a £20 bonus instantly!
Immortal Romance: Immortal Romance is one of the most famous (and popular) video slots in history, and it’s one of Microgaming’s first slots to use achievements. Unfortunately, this never really caught on, as – unlike Quickspin – Microgaming don’t offer any financial incentive for players to hit the achievements; it’s more a bit of fun. Still, it’s worth mentioning as it was one of the first achievement features in slots.
Dragon Shrine: Dragon Shrine is one of Quickspin’s older games, but it was ‘relaunched’ to feature the Achievements engine. Similar to Sakura Fortune, players collect coins when they complete certain tasks, like landing a scatter symbol a certain number of times, and entering the free-spins round multiple times.
There aren’t a massive number of games offering in-game achievements yet – but the number that do is almost certainly going to grow this year – and it’s a great way for casinos to reward players, in an alternative manner to offering bonuses and other commonly-seen rewards.
It’s clear that video slots are changing. Whether these changes are for the better or not remains anybody’s guess.
There are, it’s worth noting, a lot of players saying they’d be happy to see a return of higher-RTP slots – although, unfortunately due to higher taxation rates throughout the industry, it seems unlikely this will be something that we see making a comeback.
Equally as desired is a return to some of the classic 25 or 50-line slots (something that, before the 243-ways-to-win format was released) was a staple of online gambling…
But, again, developers make games catered towards what the market currently wants – and it looks as though it’s high-variance, volatile slots with BIG win-potential that players are in search of.
The next few years will be an interesting insight into consumer drive – and it should also be an exciting few years, in terms of game release, as we see many developers battling it out to try and win over players!