The first online casino games were released in the mid-1990s. They were mostly replicas of the video slot machines that were already popular (along with a few more elaborate simulations) and table games adapted to the online environment. Over the years, in turn, innovative ideas have been introduced to the industry. Progressive jackpots, live dealer games, multiplayer, and virtual casinos have all emerged – some of them took root, others have disappeared. Innovation in the iGaming industry comes in bursts – a provider invents a new feature or format, and the others simply go with it. Here are the latest innovations that are all the rage in the casino industry today.
“Megaways” is the trademark of Big Time Gaming, an Australian game development studio that’s now part of the Evolution Gaming group of companies. It adds an extra layer of randomness to any slot machine by using variable symbol sizes: any reel can have between 2 and 7 rows of symbols, and over 100,000 potential winning combinations on a screen. The first “Megaways” slot machine was released in 2015. It was soon followed by other Megaways slots, including games from developers who licensed the technology from BTG. Then some studios started building their own responses to the technology: Novomatic introduced “Win Ways”, Light and Wonder introduced “Mighty Ways”, and BTG itself introduced “Megaclusters”, an innovative approach to cluster slot machines.
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“Grid” slot machines
Another trend that is becoming increasingly popular today is that of “grid” or “cluster” slot machines. This is not entirely new, of course – the first such games have been released as early as 2016. But in recent years, this format has become increasingly popular. Instead of traditional reels, ”grid” slots have a grid of individual symbols on the screen. And instead of horizontal combinations of symbols on a win line, they pay out based on groups of symbols touching horizontally or vertically.
Some of the most popular grid slots available today are Play’n GO’s “Reactoonz” and Pragmatic Play’s “Sweet Bonanza”, to name just a few. These are fun for casual players because they are in many ways similar to “match-3” games like Candy Crush and Gardenscapes, and popular among real-money players because they have the potential for big payouts.
With a new generation of potential customers growing, the traditional formats are becoming less and less popular, especially among land-based players. Industry experts say that the public now demands more action, more decision-making, and more “games” from casino games, so they will be more similar to traditional video games. As a result, developers are experimenting with novel formats for games of chance.
Some online casino game studios have already started to “gamify” casino games. One of the most notable ones is Evoplay, a studio based in Ukraine, which has successfully merged dungeon crawlers and third-person shooters with casino games, releasing the titles “Dungeon: Immortal Evil” and “Star Guardians”. With them, games of chance are now as close to traditional video games as humanly possible, opening up a new world of possibilities for the online casino industry.
The iGaming industry is constantly innovating to keep up with the latest technology – and to always provide players with something new. If at first, innovation was about the technology behind the games, today, it’s about formats and approaches to gaming. Between the increased randomness of Megaways or the novel formats that mimic video games, these are the technologies that are all the rage today in casino game development.