The 10 most important trends for online slots over the last few years

CasinoWizard loves slots of all shapes and sizes.

He loves old-school slots, modern video slots, online slots, and land-based slots.

CasinoWizard wolfs down slots, especially when there is something new and unique to experience. A fantastic theme worked out perfectly. Or if a new game mechanism is introduced, with new ways to win and innovative bonus features.

At CasinoWizard, we’re always alert for new slot releases and play for real money before reviewing them.

That is the only way to experience how fun and exciting a new online slot is.

What are the most important online slots trends of the previous years?

Over the last 10 – 15 years, online slots underwent stormy development. From simple slot machines with 3 or 5 pay lines to the modern video slot with 100 pay lines, bonus features, and much more.

It’s high time we made a list of the most critical trends for online slots over the previous years.

1. More and more pay lines

Where the first online slots often had 5, 10, or a maximum of 20 pay lines, it’s becoming more and more common to have 40, 50, or even 100 pay lines on a video slot.

Australian online slots provider Big Time Gaming takes the cake: their Megaways slots often have over 100,000 ways to win.

And they booked enormous successes: their slot Bonanza is one of the most popular slots of all time and has a maximum of 117,649 ways to win.

Another inventive way to increase the number of ways to win is Nolimit City’s xWays feature, which can expand reels with extra identical symbols, opening the gates to enormous win potential.

most important trends of online slots

2. More bonus features

The average number of bonus features for online slots also increased significantly over the last few years. There might have been a maximum of 1 or 2 bonus features in the past.

Now some slots have up to 8 different bonus features. For example, the Guns N’ Roses slot machine by NetEnt has three main bonus features and three mini-features, which all rock pretty hard.

And what about Planet of the Apes, also by NetEnt: four mini-bonus features and two free spin bonuses?

The days when every slot machine had a single bonus feature consisting of 10 free spins with a 3 x multiplier are far behind us.

3. Film, tv, and music franchises are still popular as ever

Popular films, musicians, and television shows are increasingly used as a theme for online slots. It’s the best possible marketing for an online slot machine: millions of people are already familiar with the theme. The more fans a film, rock band, or series has, the more people will be eager to try out the video slot.

These are some examples of video slots with a famous film, music, or television theme: Jimi HendrixTerminator 2, the super fun South Park (which can’t be played anymore, unfortunately), Guns N’ Roses, Halloween, Paranormal Activity and even Beverly Hills 90210.

Furthermore, they also made a James Dean slot machine, an Inspector Gadget, and even a Spinal Tap slot.

Play’n GO has steadily been releasing rock and Pop-themed slots, with world-famous bands such as
NSYNC Pop, Twisted Sister, and Def Leppard.

In 2018, NetEnt published slots based on the popular Netflix series Narcos and Vikings and even managed to get foul-mouthed superchef Gordon Ramsey on board the Gordon Ramsey Hell’s Kitchen slot.

Microgaming also released a slot machine starring The Village People in 2019.

CasinoWizard can’t wait!

4. The rise of online casino streamers on YouTube and Twitch

With the rising popularity of online casinos, there’s also increasing attention to online gambling on social media. YouTube and Twitch, especially, host more and more videos of casino players filming their gambling adventures on video slots and (live) broadcasting them.

These streamers often have large groups of fans who follow their every move. This provides this type of YouTube and Twitch star with commercial value, which slots providers and online casinos then utilize.

For example, the new NetEnt slot BerryBurst Max had its exclusive global launch via the Twitch channel of the famous streamer LetsGiveItaSpin.

Incidentally, casino streamers have a clear preference for high-variance slots.

It’s much more interesting to net your stake in a bonus round on Book of Dead or Donuts multiple thousands of times than it is to win 20x your stake on Big Bad Wolf.

And that is an excellent segue to the next trend, the high variance slot.

slots trends

5. There are an increasing number of slots with higher variance

The variance of a slot is an indicator of the risk profile. The higher the variance, the higher the prizes you can win, and the more capricious the game is.

Fed by the sharply increasing popularity of slots streamers and the success of the high variance specialist Big Time Gaming (who made White Rabbit, Bonanza, and Extra Chilli, among others), we see more and more slots with enormous variance.

Push Gaming even changed its entire strategy; where it used only to make low-variance slots, they now only produce high-variance slots like the brilliant Fire Hopper, Jammin’ Jars 2, Fat Rabbit, and Fat Drac.

NetEnt is also opting to publish a MAX version alongside the regular versions of new slots, which have an increased variance.

Even the king of low-variance slots, Quickspin, changed its ways and published the high-variance slot Eastern Emeralds in 2018.

And what about Nolimit City slots? Their slots often have max wins of 30,000 x the bet or higher.

Their biggest max win game, Tombstone RIP, has a max win of 300,000 x the stake!

6. Buy a Bonus

An enjoyable trend we’re seeing is the so-called Buy a Bonus option, which is also known as the Feature Drop or Bonus Drop.

This offers players the chance to immediately buy a bonus feature and skip the entire base game. Of course, that’ll cost you a lot more, but you can go straight to dessert without struggling with all the main courses.

The first online slot with a Buy a Bonus was Wonder Woman by Bally. Unfortunately, the feature didn’t work well on this slot because it’s a low-variance slot.

Luckily, it was introduced on many other online slots more successfully.

Slots including Rocket Reels, Sweet Bonanza, Money Train 2, Extra Chilli, and White Rabbit offer you the option of buying the bonus immediately.

Extra Chilli buy a bonus gamble

7. The explosive growth of the number of slots providers

Slots are by far the most played game in casinos, regardless of whether they are online or land-based casinos.

Although slots have significant startup costs (design, programming, mathematical models, testing, brand rights, promotion), popular slots can be a cash cow for both the casino and the game provider for years to come.

When online casinos were still in the early stages, there were precisely three slots providers: NetEnt, Microgaming, and Playtech.

Nowadays, there are hundreds of slots providers who all want a piece of the pie.

Other important slots providers are Thunderkick, Quickspin, Play’n GO, Push Gaming, Relax Gaming, iSoftbet, Nolimit City, Hacksaw Gaming, Pragmatic Play, Nextgen, Elk Studios, and Big Time Gaming.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

8. New slots are promoted like they are Hollywood productions

The slots-playing casino crowd is always hungry and looking for the latest, most fun, and most entertaining video slots.

The game providers’ marketing department makes smart use of that by promoting new slot releases in all kinds of different ways.

That way, they ensure that the smoldering fire of an early announcement grows into an all-devouring forest fire.

By promoting slots at exhibitions, through social media, with actual trailers and casino portals, the game providers hope they can get as many people as possible to play the new slot.

They have no choice: an online casino only has a limited number of spots on the “New Games” page, and if you lose that spot, the chances that players will find your new release will only decrease further.

Starburst xxxtreme slot best rtp

9. The payout rates are decreasing – but there is still hope!

Unfortunately, there has been a negative trend for the players in the past years – decreasing payout rates of online slots.

More and more providers are releasing new slots in multiple payout rate configurations. Ranging from 84% to 96%.

The online casino then chooses which version they want to offer their player. Some online casinos will choose to offer the best-paying versions of the slots, maar most will choose to further increase their profits by offering low-paying versions.

It is in the player’s best interest to always play slots in the best possible RTP configuration.

You can even beat the online casino by using a slot’s RTP to your advantage.

CasinoWizard has made it his mission to seek out the most reliable online casinos that offer your favourite slots in the highest-paying setup.

Just visit the slot’s review page and select one of the highlighted casinos. That way, you are ensured that you are not playing online slots at subpar payout rates.

If you want to play the best-paying version of Book of Dead or the highest payout version of Starburst XXXtreme, use CasinoWizard’s wisdom to guide you.

10. More and more slots are released exclusively to online casinos

An exclusive slot means that a particular slot release can only be played temporarily at one online casino (or the same group of casinos).

This is usually during a period of 6 months to a year.

Where slots were previously only rarely linked to one casino exclusively, we’re seeing more and more exclusive collaborations now.

And where NetEnt was the only one to use exclusive slots for years, other providers like Yggdrasil, Microgaming, and Red Tiger are also joining in on the fun.

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