Online slots constantly evolve as technology improves and customer demands change with regulatory movements.
For example, who would have thought YouTube and Twitch slot streamers would be the new rock stars of the future?
Besides new and exciting features that providers’ creative teams are always coming up with, there are lots more aspects that constantly drive the evolution of online slots.
We looked closely at the past five years’ 7 biggest online slot trends, so we can get a grasp of where online slots have been, what is happening right now, and where they are going.
1. Lower RTPs
As more markets regulate, which brings new local laws, restrictions, and added taxes to deal with, casino operators and game studios need to find new ways to increase their margins.
Without these added margins, they will find it very difficult to operate in a challenging environment with loads of competitors.
Where can they find these extra margins, you think? -Yes, from your pockets.
This might sound a bit harsh, but how it works is that game studios release their slots with various Return To Player (RTP) configurations, and then it’s up to the casinos to choose which version to offer their players.
For example, Sweet Bonanza from Pragmatic Play is available in the following RTP versions: 95.5% and 96.5%.
What about Book of Dead? – Yes, Play’n Go release all their slots with various RTPs, including the popular BOD slot.
Book of Dead is available in these RTP versions: 84.18%, 87.25%, 91.25%, 94.25%, and 96.21%.
One more example? – Ok, then.
What about Fire in The Hole xBomb by Nolimit City? Oh, yes, three RTP versions to choose from: 90.02%, 94.11%, and 96.06%.
And on it goes. The issue is that you might think you are playing on a high RTP version while, in reality, you are burning through your wallet faster than you should, as you are actually playing on a low-paying version of the game.
This is a recent trend that more online casinos will jump on board, so follow the CasinoWizards guidance by always checking the slot review here on this site before you start playing, as we will lead you toward the highest RTP version of each slot.
2. A Big Influx Of New Providers
The times when a few game studios were supplying online casinos with all their slots, like NetEnt, which started their business in 1996, or Microgaming in 1994, are long gone.
With the increase in popularity in online casinos, specifically slots and live casino games, the number of active new game providers has skyrocketed in recent years.
Today there are hundreds of game studios operating and creating various games and slots for online casinos and us players to choose from.
The high competition makes access to top-rated online casino lobbies tough, as so many established studios are constantly creating new games.
However, one new game studio to keep an eye on is Print Studios, as with their brave and innovative approach, they have a great chance to make a name for themselves.
3. More And More Releases
With more game studios active, there are more releases to choose from.
It could be as with the influx of new game studios, more games are available in the market, but this is not the main reason for this eventual issue.
The problem is that some of the leading game studios want to ensure that their games control the casino’s game lobbies, so what do they do? -They release even more new games faster than ever before.
With this strategy, it is difficult to maintain top quality on every single release, and often a pure copy-paste scheme is used to get the games released quicker.
We players are spoilt for choice, but luckily, there are also loads of new great games available as well.
4. Higher Variance = Bigger Max Wins
With the introduction of online casino streamers becoming popular, especially with a younger base of slot players, the variance of slots has increased.
To create more viewers, attention, and excitement for the streams and simultaneously free marketing for the game studios, a trend where slots have huge max win potentials has become a thing.
However, to offer high max win potentials, something has to give, so these high variance games have to give out fewer smaller to medium-sized wins making the slots riskier.
People also have shorter attention spans and time nowadays, so many players are ok to play on a high variance slot for a short period and either walk away with a big win or quickly lose the deposit.
5. Bonus Buys
Another trend we see lately is Bonus Buy options on slots.
This is another phenomenon that slot streamers have contributed to combined with players’ shorter game sessions.
For streamers, it’s an excellent tool to showcase a slot’s features like enhanced spins or Free Spins by simply paying extra for these mechanics instead of waiting for them to trigger organically in the base game.
Other players might want to try the main bonus game quickly and are prepared to buy it instead of waiting for 200-300 spins before they are triggered.
Buying Free Spins often cost around 100x-200x your bet size but always keep in mind that buying bonuses is risky as there are no guarantees of any wins from these features.
While we see more Bonus Buy options in slots from more game studios, these are not allowed/available in some jurisdictions like the UK due to local laws.
6. Branded Slots On The Way Out?
Have you noticed fewer branded slots in the game lobbies nowadays?
Where are Terminator 2, Narcos, Aliens, Scarface, Planet of the Apes, and Jurassic Park?
Well, those titles are still there among the hundreds of other titles seen in the back catalogs, but we don’t see many new ones of these titles being released anymore.
Because it’s SUPER EXPENSIVE.
It’s costly to pay someone for the right to use a certain branded name together with logos and characters from movies, series, and whatnot.
Then the production costs are huge as well and come with a bunch of demands from the copyright holders as you can’t do this, and you can’t do that in the slot. This branded character can also only be used in a certain way, and for that logo, you have to pay extra, and so on…
It also turns out that although branded slots create attention and are great marketing tools, most players prefer to play unbranded games anyway. Reactoonz anyone?
7. Sequels Are The Way To Go
While game studios seem to avoid these expensive branded titles, they look in-house and focus on their own slots and release sequels of these while making those titles famous instead.
Well, at least famous among us slot players.
Reactoonz 2, Dr Toonz, and Gigantoonz are examples of sequels to a hugely popular slot.
While external branded slots are on their way out, sequels of popular slots are here to stay, and we keep seeing more of them in the game lobbies.