In a word, yes. Ever since the first online casinos began to emerge in the mid-1990s until now, their games – especially slots – have become even more exciting and crammed with more features and rewards, just like video games, to keep players coming back.
To answer the question of if is slots gamification the future of gambling, look no further than the slot collections of most online and mobile casinos. While most still offer players a handful of classic 3 reels, single pay line slots, the majority comprise video slots.
Video slots typically have 5 reels, multi-pay lines (15 lines up to 243 ways-to-win) with fun and engaging themes, sound effects and music to match. Most have an abundance of 3D graphics, animations and a wide range of lucrative as well as interactive features.
The Gap Between Video Slots and Video Games is Closing
Just a few short years ago the gap between traditional video games and gambling games was much wider than it is now. In fact, that gap has almost closed completely, which can be ably demonstrated by the enormous and ever-growing popularity of social casino games.
Virtually identical to traditional online casinos games in look and feel, playability and return to player (RTP), the only way that social casino slot games differ is in the way their revenue streams are generated. In other words, how they make money.
Where online casino games rely on deposited funds that can be gambled, lost or paid out as winnings, social casino games rely on the ‘in-app purchase’ of coins or credits that can be used to play games and access new games, levels and rewards. However, they can never be cashed out or redeemed for real cash no matter how many have been acquired or accrued.
The Gamification of Virtual Slots is 100% by Design
Despite this intrinsic difference between these two types of casino games, however, what these igames have in common is that these days they resemble video games more than ever which is no accident or coincidence. The gamification of virtual slots is 100% by design in order to entice players to sign up and keep playing for longer.
Even though the almost hypnotic lights, colourful symbols and noisy sound effects (ringing bells, sirens and clatter of coins as they fill the slot machine trays) are as old as Las Vegas itself, today’s virtual slots are purposefully designed to be even more enticing and hard to ignore, as inspired by features long present in video games.
For instance, ever noticed how an ever-increasing number of modern online video slots flash the words “Big Win” across the screen when you win a notably larger than average amount, usually accompanied by virtual fireworks and some loud, upbeat music?
Many New Online Video Slots Have Multiple Screens
Or how about how many new online video slots contain multiple screens or rounds that can only be unlocked and accessed if you fulfil or achieve certain requirements, targets, levels, bonuses etc. Sound familiar?
The challenge of trying to reach these new screens, coupled with the opportunity to win potentially huge pay outs and the sheer entertainment factor, is exactly what keeps players motivated, interested and ultimately playing for longer and spending more money.
Don’t, however, think this isn’t a ‘win win’ situation for all involved. Casinos win because their games are a hit and they can turnover more players and cash, while players win as they get to satisfy their need to gamble and play games simultaneously, and in doing so, release more dopamine, the chemical in our brains responsible for us feeling pleasure.
Slots Gamification Driven by Players and the Industry
But slots gamification doesn’t end there. In fact, it’s only just getting started because it’s not only being driven by a new generation of players eager to improve their chances of winning using their skills, but also by the competitiveness of the global online gambling industry.
When online casinos first emerged way back in the 1990s, there were only a small handful of online software vendors i.e. casino game developers, many of which are still going and thriving like Microgaming, Playtech, Cryptologic and Realtime Gaming to name a few.
Today, however, there is a long list of top-rated online casino software firms in operation (such as NetEnt, Betsoft, Play’n Go and Vivo Gaming), each trying to design and develop the next most popular, attractive and lucrative games for online casinos and players alike.
Online Video Slots that Don’t Stand Out Get Ignored
The result is that slot games must be bolder, brighter, louder, more graphically rich, feature-laden and interactive than ever before, or they risk being ignored by players. In the highly competitive global online gambling industry, video slots that don’t stand out are ignored.
This is why developers of online and mobile slot games are constantly seeking out new, exciting and innovative ways to make their games superior to those of their rivals, and (hopefully) instant and long-lasting hits amongst players based all over the world.
Many even market their games together with the online casinos they supply by sending out mailshots to players announcing their upcoming new video slot releases. These usually have a screen dump of the game with a description of its features, benefits and pay outs.
A Big Drawcard to Video Slots is Free Spins
For instance, one of the biggest drawcards to video slots is free spins. Most online slot fans tend to go crazy for the chance to win a number of free spins that allows them to sit back, relax and watch as the reels spin for free and their winnings (hopefully) pile up.
Since the very first video games were launched in the 1970s, many have included the facility where players can boost their lives if they reach certain milestones or accrue a specific point total. In many ways free spins at online casinos is the gamification of that concept.
Many online casinos offer no deposit free spin bonuses which is why players are eager to learn the truth about free spins bonuses. But spinning reels and winning combinations are not enough keep players interested, as most want extra bang for their gambling buck.
Slots are Increasingly Contain Challenges, Targets or Goals
And due to slots gamification most players are getting it, particularly at the world’s best online casinos. Slot games are increasingly populated with challenges, targets or goals for players to achieve to progress in the game or win the biggest pay outs and/or jackpots.
Not only are many of these ‘new wave’ slots more interactive and exhilarating to draw in new and experienced players alike, but they make sure to ‘shout it from the rooftops’ to congratulate the player for their achievements and encourage them to keep playing.
For instance, whenever players win big, reach a new level or unlock a new challenge, more often than not their game erupts in a bright display of visual splendour and thunderous sounds. The purpose of this is to act like a ‘cheerleader’ to the player’s ‘quarterback.’
Winning in Slots Releases Dopamine in the Brain
Players feel like they the slot game is almost rooting for them to win with all the fanfare when they rack up the winnings or successes, which in turn unlocks a sense of achievement and extreme well-being as a result of all the dopamine being released in their brains.
Not only that, but if players experience the vibrant sights and sounds associated with winning on a particular slot, naturally their very human nature makes them want more of it, especially when they’re no longer winning. They want to recapture that winning feeling.
In fact, it’s true to say that drive to recapture the feeling you get when you rack up a big win is strong in many slot fans, and casinos are all too aware of this. That’s why their slots send up the fireworks when you win so you get used to seeing fireworks and feeling good.
Gamified Slots Often Allow Turbo Play
The same drive is another reason that so many online casinos have added gamified slots to their game portfolios with turbo play. Consider Pac-Man, one of the most prolific video games of the 1980s. Some Pac-Man variants came with a turbo feature to ‘speed up the action.’ For most players, however, the turbo button only ate up their credits.
The same concept has been carried over to online slots with a turbo function, where players can increase their spin (and thus their spend) rate as they attempt to chase down the big wins, jackpots and paydays, and the resulting sense of euphoria and well-being .
Arguably one of the biggest examples of slots gamification can be found in the ’arcade-style’ bonus games standard in most video slots. Typically unlocked when players land 3 or more bonus symbols on their reels, bonus games or rounds are always simple and fun.
Slot Bonus Games are Driven by Player Choices
Most, for instance, require players to make a series of choices, where chosen objects or items either reveal cash prizes (of varying size) or booby prizes in the form of an ‘end bonus or play’ token or button, that stops their bonus round or session in its tracks.
Some bonus games have a number of different levels, where the longer players manage to avoid the booby prizes, the more levels they’ll reach and the greater their prize total.
In this vein, during the last few years, slots gamification in the United States has made particularly great strides. There, gaming regulators have recognised the need to make regulatory and legislative changes to welcome a new generation of skill-based slot.
Skill-Based Online Video Slots on the Rise
Rather than rely purely on the outcome of random number generator (RNG) spinning reels, players who have honed their skills to advance and excel in regular video games can use those same skills to increase their chances of winning in skill-based online video slots.