What is a ‘Video Slot’?
A Video Slot is a gaming device very similar in principle to that of a slot machine. You play a video slot in the same way you would a traditional classic slot machine, with the same goal, and that is to have fun trying to win some money.
Video slot machines are onscreen graphical representations of slot machine reels. Because they are not actual mechanical devices, video slot developers can be more creative in their game design than their electro-mechanical counterparts. The technological development of video slot machines have given more scope for the use of multiple paylines, amazing animations, and 3D graphics, and an array of additional bonus features.
‘Video Slot’ Explained
Compared to the electro-mechanical reel slot machines, video slots offer a mind blowing number of paylines, with some having more than 1000 paylines. It would be impossible to accomplish in an electro-mechanical slot machine.
Video slots are a good example of how remarkable microchip technology has changed the gambling industry. Advances in technology have enabled the development of slot machine animations and 3D graphics to enhance the player’s experience with immersive game play.
Video slots were not instantly accepted when they started being introduced to gamblers, because they did not trust a virtual slot machine where they could not actually see the reels spinning.
In 1975, Walt Fraley invented the first video slot machine, called Fortune Coin, and IGT; the world-famous slot machine manufacturer bought the patent for Fortune Coin in 1976. Clever marketing and further development of the video slot machine secured the public’s acceptance of this new kind of slot machine, and Fortune Coin became a big hit with players.
Video slot machines have continued to evolve at an exponential rate, and by their very definition use onscreen video displays rather than the electro-mechanical system. The goals in the game play remain the same, and that is to create winning combinations as much as possible to win cash prizes.
Today’s video slot machines typically include a variety of feature games to add to the overall gaming experience. This includes free spins, mystery prizes, cash trails, gamble game features, multipliers, wild symbols, expanding wilds, scatter symbols, sticky wilds, and more. New features are always in development as market competition increases, and the player’s expectations grow.
Las Vegas casinos house more than 2,000 video slot machines, due to the increasing popularity. One advantage for the casinos is that with no moving electro-mechanical parts, there is less chance of experiencing technical issues.
Video slot machines are available in both land-based and online casinos, with a variety of themes and bonus features that make them extremely popular with players. Players can expect to find excellent graphics and sound effects to add fun and excitement to an already enjoyable entertainment experience.
Online ‘Video Slot’ Games
Video slot machines account for a large portion of the online gambling sector, and are the largest contributor when it comes to what players like to play at online casinos.
Technically, all online slots are video slot machines, because they are virtual slots, however the term video slot references a specific kind of online slots. These are the multi-payline slots that typically have more than 9 paylines. More and more online video slot games are coming out with well over 1000 paylines.
It wasn’t all that long ago that slot machines offered only a minimal number of features. There were 3 spinning reels with anywhere from 10 to 20 symbols on each reel, and when a specific combination of these symbols lined up on the center line, you would win candy or a stick of gum. These prizes are still remembered in the fruit and bar symbols in slot machines today. The fruits represent the flavor of the candies that were won, and the bars represent the sticks of gum.
Today, slot machines have a vast array of extras, and slot machines with all these extras are known as video slot games. There are multiple paylines, free spin features, gamble games, autoplay features, varying denominations, and options of how many coins to bet on each active payline. Symbols are not simply symbols anymore either. There are symbols that represent specific bonuses, multiplier symbols, scatter symbols, and wild symbols that do all sorts of tricks when they are activated. The most common types of video slot features are:
1024 Ways to Win: 1024 Ways to Win video slots abandon the traditional paylines and grant wins on any left to right symbol combo. As long as a matching symbol appears on an adjacent reel there is a payout, and the symbols don’t necessarily ‘line up.’
243 Ways to Win: Instead of adding more paylines, 243 Ways to Win is a game format that offers wins for 3 or more matching symbols on adjacent reels from left to right. This type of video slot also abandons the traditional payline wins like the 1024 Ways to Win video slot game, and works in the same way, only with less ways to win. Casual slot players enjoy this type of video slot because of the low variance, which simply means there is a higher number of spin wins with lower payouts.
Win Both Ways: While most video slots award payouts for winning combinations in the traditional left to right lineup, the Win Both Ways video slot awards payouts for the winning combinations from left to right and right to left. These types of video slots are also known as Two Ways Pay slots.
Autoplay Features: The autoplay feature is activated by clicking a button located on the game interface, (usually at the bottom). The game will actually spin the reels for you a certain number of spins that you specify when initially setting the options in the game. This is a handy feature if you find yourself needing to get up a stretch your legs, or take a bathroom break maybe. Once you set your preferences for how you want the autoplay feature to play, it is completely automated.
Gamble Game: Many video slots today offer this feature after every winning spin, and you can choose to activate the feature by clicking the ‘Gamble’ button, which is usually located at the bottom of the game interface.
The most common type of gambling game gives you the option bet some or all of your most recent win, and to predict the color or the suit of the card to be revealed from a stack of common playing cards. Correctly guessing the color of the card pays you double the amount of your stake, and correctly guessing the suit pays you quadruple your stake. You can also choose to play another round if you win, but if you guess incorrectly not only do you lose your stake, you lose the option to play another round, so the gamble feature closes.
Bonus Games: These are special games in a video slot that are unlocked by a certain number of symbols appearing anywhere on the reels, or another way to unlock a bonus game might be a ‘fill meter’ located somewhere on the game interface, and when you have a specific symbol appearing on the reels or in a winning combination, the meter will fill to a certain level, and then when the meter is full, the bonus game is unlocked. There are a number of different types of these bonus games, and the bonus game depends on the game played.
Multiplier Symbols and Multipliers: These are symbols that, when activated, will multiply winnings by the multiple specified in the symbol. For example, if a multiplier must be present in a winning combination to become activated, let’s say it is 2X, then the regular payout for that winning combination without the multiplier will be doubled when it is present.
Another common way mulipliers work in video slot games is during a free spins bonus round, where all the wins are doubled, tripled, or quadrupled. There are some that even go higher, depending on the game played.
For obvious reasons, players love to play video slots that offer multipliers in any form.
Scatter Symbols: For most symbols in a video slot game, the typical way to achieve a winning combination is for the symbols to line up on an active payline according to the paytable. On the other hand, Scatter Symbols can appear anywhere on the reels to be activated. Depending on the video slot game played, just the appearance of 3 or more Scatter Symbols can not only activate a Free Spins bonus round, but can award a payout which is generally double the total bet per spin.
Scatter Symbols get their name because they do not have to be lined up on an active payline to become activated, they can be ‘scattered’ on the reels anywhere.
Coins: The coins display on the game interface represents the coin denomination of the wager per payline. For example, if your coin denomination is represented as $0.01, the wager per payline is a minimum of one penny. If there is an option for the number of coins to wager per payline, then that would be multiplied by the value of the coin and then multiplied by the number of paylines. For example, betting 5 pennies per payline and there are 25 paylines, then the total bet per spin is $1.25 on that video slot.
When playing any video slot, the best practice is to play the total number of paylines at a lower coin value, if you have a limited wagering budget. This is especially true when playing any progressive jackpot video slot. You are not in the running to win the jackpot if you are not playing the maximum bet.
Paytable: Every slot machine, including video slot games have a paytable, which covers every aspect of how to play the game, including all the bonus features the game offers. There are instructions on how to trigger certain bonuses, and information on what to look for.
Free Spins: These are spins of the reels that you don’t have to pay for. Free spins are activated in various ways, however the typical way involves 3 or more Free Spin Scatter symbols or Scatter symbols appearing anywhere on the reels. Often, the Free Spins can be retriggered during the Free Spins bonus round.
Retriggering: Essentially this is launching the bonus game again, during the bonus game. This is a feature that has the potential to lead to some very big wins. Free Spins are retriggered when the same 3 symbols activating the game initally appear anywhere on the reels again during the free spins round. Retriggering can be activated on consecutively, leading to successive bonus rounds.
Cascading Reels: Once the spinning reels stop, and symbols are in their places, winning combinations explode and disappear, allowing the symbols above to fall into the open spaces, and then new symbols fall into the open spaces at the top of the reels. Any new winning combinations that form also explode, and the cycle repeats until no winning combinations are formed. This feature is an exciting addition to the game play action.
Wild Symbols: These work in the same way wild cards in card games work, substituting other symbols on the reels when winning combinations can be formed. Many video slot games also feature mutipliers on regular payouts when a wild symbol appears in the combination.
Expanding Wilds: This is a popular video slot feature with a twist on the traditional wild symbol, where the wild symbol expands to fill the entire reel that is appears on. This feature can lead to big wins by creating several new winning combinations.
Stacked Wilds: These are typically in a variety of stacks, ranging between 2 and 5, depending on the reel layout of the video slot. Stacked wilds are used in different ways, depending on the game played. Whatever form they are used always leads to bigger and better wins.
Sticky Wilds: These are wild symbols that hold their position on the reels when they appear, and when they do appear the feature usually involves a free respin of the reels. If additional wild symbols appear on the free respin, then those wild symbols become sticky, and another free respin occurs.
These are just some of the online video slot features available, and many of them also involve progressive jackpots that can be won. The bonus features also have some of the most incredible graphics and sound features in the industry. These features add real excitement and big wins to any video slot game in both land-based and online casinos.