New Innovations in Gaming Machines
Slot machines are arguably the biggest staple of casinos, pretty much only rivalled by the roulette wheel in terms of being the definitive gambling symbol. When a movie wants to show the viewers that the action takes place in Las Vegas, all they need is a few seconds of slot reels spinning down to that magical 777. But, believe it or not, those mechanical slot machines we’re all familiar with have been outdated for over a decade now, replaced almost entirely by digital equivalents operated by computers, with the spinning reels replaced by symbols on a screen.
While controversial at first, this shift has since become incredibly popular with consumers, giving rise to hundreds of games, both in the physical world and in the world of online slot games, as seen on free-spins.net. These digital slots have allowed for fancy graphics, smooth animations and bonus rounds literally impossible on their mechanical grandparents – and with the basics perfected, the only thing left to do was innovate! As millennials have gradually replaced boomers as the main casino-going demographic, the slot machines have evolved with them, giving rise to some truly unique and awesome experiences that would have been unthinkable only a decade ago!
In Japan, the concept of a “pachi-slot”, which combines a slot machine with a pinball-esque Pachinko machine, is very well known and extremely popular, but in the West, we tend to think of slots as games where winning or losing depends entirely on chance. Young players who grew up with videogames, however, find chance-based games to be rather boring, and the gambling industry has scrambled to amend that.
Their solution? Skill-based slots, which combine traditional reels with skill-based bonus rounds. Most slot machines these days offer some sort of bonus round should you be lucky (or persistent) enough to unlock it, but most tend to be fairly basic, like picking a gift box randomly for some extra cash. Skill-based slots, however, place you in a minigame where how much you win depends entirely on your own skills. For example, “Space Invaders” by Scientific Games, an adaptation of the beloved arcade classic, will let you play a round after a lucky spin, giving you cash for every invader you shoot down.
While they’re not legal everywhere yet, skill-based slots are quickly gaining an audience, and they’ve already found a home in several US states – finding them in the rest of the gambling world is just a matter of time at this point.
VR Slot Machines
If you’ve never tried VR before, then you’re probably wondering just what the fuss is about – isn’t this just a screen you press against your face? However, anyone who’s actually put on a headset will tell you how truly revolutionary this technology is. We’re already seeing its effects on the gaming industry, with Meta/Facebook creating a formidable gaming division specifically to explore VR games, and popular platforms like the PlayStation 5 being built from the ground up with VR in mind.
It was only natural that VR technology would make its way to gambling sooner or later, and several online casinos already offer you the option to plug in a headset and play blackjack or roulette from within the virtual world. But most recently, developers have started showcasing slot machines that come with a headset alongside the screen, allowing you to become fully immersed into the world of the slot. One demo shows the symbols represented by large stone blocks falling dramatically in front of the player – and this, combined with the already superb sound system of most slot machines, has the potential to truly make every spin look and feel spectacular.
Of course, these VR slots aren’t publicly available yet, and probably won’t be until the price of headsets lowers significantly. However, the demos are promising, and just the fact that notable slot developers are looking into the option should be enough to make any slot fan very excited for the future!
Electronic Table Games
What if you enjoy the idea of slots, but don’t actually like the randomness of the reels? What if you like the creative visuals and larger-than-life cabinets of modern day slots, but simply find gameplay that consists of pressing one button boring? Well, worry not – slot manufacturers have heard you, and they’ve started using their technical know-how to build cabinets for non-slot games, such as blackjack or roulette.
While this approach has been rather common in the poker space (where video poker is a tried and true genre of games), it has never been successfully attempted for other popular table games, where having physical cards and a real life dealer have been practically unbeatable by technology. However, a real life dealer most of the time has to deal with numerous players – usually a dozen or more at once when it comes to roulette, and with COVID still a concern, not everyone is comfortable being in close proximity to such a large group of people. These Electronic Table Games (ETGs) can eliminate that concern by giving each player their own individual spot, with the virtual dealer’s full attention. On top of that, they can also be placed in gambling institutions that don’t normally have any dealers at all, such as bookies. Last, but not least, they can use animations and characters to make the game much more entertaining to watch – imagine sitting down at a blackjack ETG, and James Bond is looking at you from the monitor so he can act as your dealer.
Simpler ETGs have already started making the rounds of many casinos, and they’re only going to grow more and more popular throughout the 20s. For the first time ever, table games can grow with technology just as much as their slot brothers have, and that’s a very exciting thought!