While the public perception of slots may still have one foot stuck in the past, the reality of slot gaming is much further from this belief. We’ve come a long way from blue-rinsed seniors packing Vegas pits clutching at rolls of quarters to a more modern reincarnation of slot play that is as dynamic as it is innovative, and most importantly, now rocking HTML5.
We’ll be taking a look at the evolution of slots, from payment systems to present-day releases where the best online slots are now packing online casino lobbies to the brim. And the good news? The best is yet to come. If you’re looking for everything you ever wanted to know about the evolution of slot sites, you’re in the right place.
Slot platforms have been through a limited yet impressive evolution since their nascent appearance from the downloadable (via dial-up nonetheless) to a browser-based outing. Then, Flash held the gaming software reins for nearly 30 years and was knocked from the top spot by the go-to video slot software HTML5 bursting onto the scene in 2014.
From frustratingly slow download speeds to the mobile-friendly, Usain Bolt-challenging loading times, let’s take a look back at the timeline of slot software implementation:-
Top pick for players back in the day that were struggling with connection speeds, downloadable casino software was the only option in the emerging online casino scene for users facing the uphill struggle of an ADSL line.
Innately unreliable due to connection dropouts or patchy coverage, the online casino industry flipped the lacklustre download environment on its head and instead offered players the option of installing their gaming software themselves. Posted out in the thousands, compact discs were provided so players could pop the CD-ROM into their CD drive, install the casino software and enjoy slot games without the pesky issues of download snags.
Also known as a ‘web-based app’, online casino browser software was simply played through a browser window, when browsers came in but a slate grey and Google hadn’t yet changed the game with Chrome. Here’s what each had to offer:-
First launched in the 1990s while HTML2 and HTML3 were still cutting their teeth, Flash was the golden boy for giving slots a harmonic spin with high fidelity audio playback, animation, and video integration. Sounds peachy, but Flash came courtesy of the Adobe plug-in. Brilliant freeware but patching required overly-regular updates which caused confusion, annoyance, and worst of all, gaming timeouts that could span hours.
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the standard code used for creating websites and rendering web content. HTML4 faltered due to the lack of multimedia support which opened the gates for Flash to flood the market.
Coming out in 2014, HTML5 was a literal game-changer for online slot sites, even if it did take devs six years to twig that this was the software (so far) tailor-made for genre-bending video slots. Maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3), the WC3 does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to developing web standards and ensures that HTML5 performs optimally.
Here are a few tips for seamless slot play with HTML5:
- Best mobile browser – Samsung Internet 6.2
- Best desktop browser – Chrome 66
- Best tablet browser – Edge 17
The crowning glory of HTML5 instead of Flash comes down to a simple case of compatibility. By leveraging the power of the mighty HTML5, multimedia content is supported across 94.5% of all browsers, plug-in free, with breezy processing demands that Flash had always struggled with.
Players are soon to witness significant changes in slot backend development. The clairvoyants among us will no doubt see HTML6 appearing in our crystal balls but with the emergence of virtual reality (VR) casinos, the metaverse and NFT gambling, the tech powering your favourite games is both unpredictable and exciting.
The formerly diminutive gaming cult introduced in the ‘90s was encouraged by the popularity of analogue slot machines and the introduction of the world’s first video slot. Usually coming in the form of popular land-based slot reboots, video slots opened the doors for cracking visuals, and high-def bed music. Also, the development of online slots welcomed features such as cascading reels, bonus rounds, wilds, and pocket-stuffing progressive jackpots.
Gambling, for many, is a solitary pastime, so, live casino slot development was one of natural progression, bringing a much-needed touch of (albeit virtual) human contact to games. Live casinos are massively popular with blackjack, poker, and roulette players, so slot players seemed the next sensible demographic to attract.
While gameplay is slower, this is to the player’s advantage as the speedier all casino games are dealt, the closer to the mathematical average they’ll become, meaning an elevated house edge.
This is called velocity hold (VH). A slower game minimises VH but unless you’re playing slots 24/7, 365 (and we sincerely hope that you’re not), the impact on house edge/RTP is negligible. The best aspect about playing live casino slots is the opportunity to meet other like-minded players. Live slots and live casinos are, in general, responsible for not only facilitating a more engaging, human gambling experience, but also helping build a community of players.
As all marketing casino bods are aware, it’s easy to quit a casino but harder to leave a community.
The expanding world of slot sites doesn’t just end with HTML5 and fancy tech. The slot industry has also been greatly influenced by the integration of new approaches to online casino payment systems.
E-Wallets revolutionised slot sites (even if Skrill and NETELLER are usually exempt from promotions), providing players with an opportunity for swift transfers without having to dig out a debit card each time you deposit. If you’re shopping about for an ewallet compatible with online gambling, the following providers are best suited for slot site payments:
Crypto slot sites offer players enhanced security, privacy, and avoids the use of the Random Number Generator (RNG) used in video slot architecture. With these features in mind, the following are the most suitable cryptocurrencies for use at slot sites are:
February 2022 saw the UKGC reel in wagering requirements, stating the following:
- That all licensees review their terms in regards to bonus wagering, ensuring they comply with LCCP (Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice), consumer protection laws while also taking into consideration the Commission’s updated guidance. If requested, licensees should be able to provide evidence of how, precisely, their terms are both fair and transparent
- Welcome bonus offers – and in particular – wagering requirements should be reviewed. A requirement of the LCCP is that bonus mechanics are created in a manner fit for a socially responsible gambling environment
The UKGC also stipulates: ‘that it does not expect conditions, such as wagering requirements, to encourage excessive play.’
With a potential autospin ban on the cards, regulation of slot sites is becoming tighter with the player’s best interest at heart.
The most contentious topic for operators, providers, and local lawmakers alike, responsible gambling is also influencing the way slots are played. The UKGC highlights the following concerns:
- Prohibiting multiple slot games
- Introducing speed of play limits
- Prohibiting player-led “spin stop” features
- Prohibiting auto-play functionality for online slots
- Prohibiting effects that give the illusion of “false wins”
- Display of net position and time spent
Offers and promotions
Slot site marketing offers traditionally revolve around the following promo mechanics:
- Network-wide promotions based on completing a wagering benchmark
- Operator promotions that could include:
- Free spin offers
- Prize draws
- A bonus for completing an in-game combo, such as a certain number of successive wins
- Wager-based leaderboards
- Biggest win with a single spin
The prize for the majority of slot promos is, of course, free spins. The best news coming from the online casino promotions world is that wagering requirements are being lowered, with some casinos dishing out 0x wagering on winnings with the majority hovering around the 20x mark.
As the vista of online slot sites becomes one of greater clarity, player protection, and games with higher production quality due to the creative mash-up of design, tech, in-game mechanics and features, slot players of today are beholding a panorama of player-focused changes that signal a new dawn for slot sites with gameplay parameters in plain view.