Caption: It takes a lot of work to transform an old-time slot machine into a future-proof digital game!
Slot machines are one of the oldest methods of real money gaming, as this globally popular form of entertainment goes back to the early 1800s. Far from fading away with the times like other forms of dice and card games that were popular back then, slot machines have survived and are as popular now as they were back in their heyday. These games have even adapted to reflect the changing times, and here in the 21st century, we have a thoroughly modern version, online slots.
Online slots are a core part of today’s online and mobile casino gaming. Although online casino platforms guard the exact numbers, it’s estimated that online slots games generate higher profits than the classic ones do for brick-and-mortar casinos. With several leading platforms offering slots games that are free to play, it’s little wonder that this vertical has become one of the most popular and lucrative in the iGaming industry. Unlike other online games such as poker, online slots are also incredibly simple to play, so they’re accessible to people who wouldn’t ordinarily find themselves in a casino. Despite their simplicity, however, the development of these games is quite complex and can even take as long as a year to complete.
It’s All About Teamwork
Did you know that it takes a comprehensive team of game and graphic designers, server developers, front-end developers, software engineers, animators, configurators and testers, mathematicians and project managers to produce leading slot titles like Game of Thrones and Age of the Gods? Building an online slots game is, after all, a serious software development process, and there are quite a few stages that these games go through before they release into the market.
Research is the first task that the development team has to complete, especially since each new title needs to be something original, and not a re-hashed version of something that already released many times over. Once they settle on an idea, the team will then develop things like storylines, themes and characters, graphics and animation, audio and set the machine algorithm. All that work before even generating a single line of code!
Then it’s onto the difficult task of developing the game. Because it’s so crucial that technical details like playability and game mechanics are perfect, developing a game is a constant refining process that involves extensive testing from the prototype to beta stage. There are even final tests conducted before the game releases, which ask real gamers to try out the product and give their honest feedback. Most of the time, these UX tests are a formality to ensure no errors have slipped through, but can you imagine how stressful it would be for the team to have to go back to the drawing board if their game wasn’t up to scratch?
How They Work
The way in which an online slots game works is no happy accident. During the development process, the team building the game have been meticulous about things like variance and random number generators or RNGs. From the beginning of the process, they keep in mind an ideal end gamer, whose preferences determine the risk variance level of the game.
- Low-risk variance games appeal to a wide demographic due to their lower jackpots and increased winning combinations.
- Medium-risk variance games feature both high and low jackpots and are ubiquitous. These are also typically the games that have plenty of bonus features and in-game opportunities to wager and win more money.
- High-risk variance games include progressive jackpot games and games with wild multipliers. They are the most challenging to play, but they also generate the highest payouts.
Then there’s the RNG, which is a proprietary algorithm that the team first decided on and set at the beginning of the development process. The RNG is at the heart of every online slot game, as it randomly chooses numbers connected to the symbols the player sees on their screen. They exist because they keep the games fair; although humans (including the mathematicians on the team) may have set the algorithm, they randomly produce numbers, which means that players or even the casino platforms themselves can’t manipulate the outcome.
Not a Magic Formula
There’s no magic formula for developing an online slot game. Ultimately, it all comes down to creating the most engaging, entertaining and all-around best player experience, but how the development team gets there is entirely in their hands. Due to their online nature, these slots games also need to meet the needs and requirements of tech-savvy players and keep up with technological advancements. Once a slot has officially released and is in play, developers still need to make improvements and tweak the game — especially when it comes to new or updated platforms, browsers and devices.