Game developers are working harder now than ever before to create titles that engage players and immerse them in various worlds and narratives.
In recent years, this task has become much tougher thanks to the rise of entertainment behemoths like Netflix and social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram.
This has certainly been felt by slot game developers, who are also having to compete with popular video games like Fortnite, Call of Duty and PUBG.
This has led developers to push the boundaries, and in recent months we have seen some build highly innovative features into their games.
Here are some of the latest trends in online slots you can look forward to.
Slots with Narratives and Characters
Slot developers are taking inspiration from video game developers to create titles centred around stories and narratives with several characters.
Some are even giving players the ability to choose how the narrative unfolds, which in turn transforms the betting experience into a more stimulating one.
Betsoft, for example, has developed an interactive action adventure game – Max Quest: Wrath of Ra – where players win cash prizes by defeating enemies.
Players aim their crosshairs at enemies instead of a slot machine’s spin button, and beyond paylines, bullets strike targets and pay out in coins.
Big Time Gaming’s latest slot release, Holy Diver, is also based around a narrative with a central character that appears at the bottom of the reels.
The game is powered by its Reel Adventure™ mechanic which has been used to create three different worlds with varying levels of volatility which can be controlled by the player.
The idea behind both games is to give more control to the player over their experience by moving closer to a video game environment.
Building on the above, slot developers are now creating multi-player titles so that players can compete with their friends.
RealTime Gaming has done this with one of its latest releases, Fish Catch. In this game, players find themselves in a vast ocean where they shoot fish to win prizes.
Players can either go it alone or compete with up to three friends to see who can shoot the most fish and land the biggest prize.
Max Quest: Wrath of Ra is also a multi-player game. Players can team up with five other players to kill as many enemies as possible.
By working together, players can increase their chance of winning big while also ramping up the fun factor that comes with playing with friends.
Virtual Reality Slots
Virtual reality (VR) is taking the entertainment world by storm, from bringing movies and television shows to life to transporting us right to the heart of major sporting events.
In recent months, VR has become more accessible thanks to devices such as Google Daydream View and Samsung Gear VR technology.
Online casino operator and developer, ALEA, teamed up with Pragmatic Play back in 2017 to launch Sugar Rush VR.
Sugar Rush is a popular Pragmatic Play title, and by joining forces with ALEA the two developers were able to launch a mobile VR version of the title.
As long as they’re wearing compatible VR hardware when playing the game, players can look around a bold and bright 3D world while spinning the reels.
They can also interact with 3D characters, which really lurches them head-first into a life-like experience.
ALEA also operates the world’s first 3D virtual reality casino, SlotsMillion. The casino is set in a sleek skyscraper and players can walk around the gaming floor and play various slots.
The attention to detail is fantastic and is the first “otherworld” of its kind in the online gambling sector.
Other big-name developers such as Microgaming and NetEnt have also been developing VR versions of popular titles like Jack and the Beanstalk.
In recent months, slots developers seem to be coming to terms with the fact that their games must offer anticipation and thrills in equal measure.
Targeting the same audience as video and mobile game developers, slots developers are trying to program their games to deliver the same levels of excitement.
To achieve this, some developers have increased the variance or volatility of their games. This means they pay out less often, but when they do the wins tend to be much bigger.
This keeps players on the edge of their seats as they’re unsure when the next win is going to come but they know that when it does, there is potential for it to be massive.
These are just some of the trends we are seeing in online slot development. The shift in the land-based casino industry is already being felt, and the digital space will provide further opportunities for more creative slot games to be unveiled.
As a rule of thumb, developers are taking inspiration from video games to provide players with a superior experience.
It’s an exciting time for online slot games and the wider online casino industry, with slots now appealing to a much broader audience and becoming more sophisticated as time goes by.