Online Slot Machine Games
Perhaps it may seem like a basic question to ask, but we don’t ignore the possibility that for new players faced with the hundreds of choices of ‘slots’ offered at the best online casinos, it might not be 100% clear what constitutes an online slot machine game. And is an online slot different from the slots in a land-based casino?
To address the first point, there are a few elements that are common to all games that can be classed as ‘slot machines’. All slots share a common DNA that goes back to what is now recognised as the game that kicked it all off – the Liberty Bell machine invented by Charles Fey in 1899. This machine had three independent reels of symbols and paid prizes when fixed combination of those symbols lined up horizontally on a payline having been spun.
From this basic recipe, all future slots followed the same core principle that they are games of pure chance, where a player is hoping to find specific patterns of symbols presented at the end of an event where a fixed number of symbols are jumbled.
Physical reels being spun were the traditional way to ‘jumble’ the symbols, but most modern slots emulate this mechanism with virtual reels rendered digitally. The composition of symbols on a slot machine’s reels directly affects the mathematical probabilities of specific combination appearing on a payline, and so rarer combinations are given higher prize values and vice versa.
For decades after the invention of the Liberty Bell slot, casino slots followed pretty much the same format, however with the advent of video gaming technology from the 1970s onwards, slot machines were able to throw off the limitations of electro-mechanical reels. From this moment on, slot game developers could add more reels, special symbols and bonus features impossible with earlier machines, and the near exponential growth in consumer computer use and power brought with it new opportunities to innovate with the presentation and delivery of slot gaming.
Another milestone moment, was the realisation of the World Wide Web, which made the Internet both easily accessible for the public and a global playground ripe for online gaming. Early online slots were hampered by the snails-pace speeds of early dial-up access, so were often very basic games not that far from the specification of the first Liberty Bell machine. However the rise of broadband and increasing sophistication of online software technology soon saw the development of online slots unlike anything seen before.
Returning to our earlier question, is there a difference between land-based casino slots and online slot games? Not much is the current answer, since there is now tremendous crossover between the two sectors and you’ll find that physical slot machine makers like Scientific Gaming, Novomatic and WMS have all their games available at online casinos too.
One difference you may find is that land-based casino slots have traditionally been set to deliver lower RTP percentages (in the 70-80% range as a rough guide), whereas online slots (including online versions of land-based games such as Wolf Run and Zeus slot) are routinely paying with RTP figures set in the mid 90% range.
Playing online slots can therefore offer players better value for money than the equivalent games in a real-world setting, however there is still a little extra magic to playing slots in an authentic casino setting that makes it a fun experience if you get the chance!