What started as a simple concept, the slot machine has blossomed into something quite vast and diverse.
Slot machines continue to be a driving force behind casino revenue, both retail and online, for Michigan markets.
The gaming trends have changed over the decades, but current slot styles seem to have found their footing and are expected to be in place for years to come.
Still, new ideas are always coming up and the hottest new trend can spark from anywhere.
Today’s prevalent trends in slot machines
According to gaming directors, there are two themes to slot games that are most prevalent today.
Hold-and-Spin: In hold-and-spin formats, players are collecting symbols that lead to an ultimate goal over a set number of spins. The more symbols that are collected, the more of a prize is won.
Persistent State: A player chases for credits, multipliers, progressive or other potential rewards over a set amount of time.
“With Hold-and-Spin, you spin your reel, you have coins up there, and they stay on the screen for those next spins. So that’s kind of your Hold-and-Spin feature, where the Persistent State is more of like a bonus pot. You are collecting your pieces that fill a puzzle, and if you get up and walk away, those pieces are still there for the next person,” Gary Fagone, Director of Slot Performance at FireKeepers Casino and Hotel, said. “There’s different variations of it, of course, but they’re all just copying each other or versions of the same basic style. So those are the current trends, then holding true since probably late 2018-2019.”
Fagone credits Lightning Link, an Aristocrat game, as the first game to begin this latest trend. It first debuted overseas in 2014.
What slot games are trending?
With the current gaming style trends being what they are, which games are finding their way to the top?
BetMGM Michigan has been the dominant force in the state when it comes to online casino gaming revenue. It also leads the 15 online markets in available games.
“We’re pleased to offer players arguably the most diverse selection of new games on the market, especially as they remain receptive to the new titles we launch week after week,” Oliver Bartlett, Director of Gaming at MGM, said. “While there isn’t a particular game theme or slot type that resonates more than others, attractively designed games with entertaining themes always prove to be favorites. We’re pleased to be able to continue to deliver content from both our in-house studios and our strategic partnerships with the industry’s brightest and best content suppliers.”
Bartlett notes the following games as being near the top of their rankings:
- MGM Grand Millions
- Hyper Gold
- Fa Fa Babies
- Cash Machine
- Capital Gains
- 88 Fortunes
At FireKeepers, Fagone noted the following games as being most successful:
- Cash Express
- Dollar Storm
- Lighting Cash
- Dragon Cash
- Colossal Diamonds
- Ultimate Fire Link
- All Aboard
- Buffalo Gold
- Rakin’ Bacon
Previous slot trends
Prior to today’s two primary slot trends, companies were focused more on themed-based trends.
“If you went back in time, it was more theme branded slots that were prevalent. There were Asian themes, Egyptian themes, Africa themes. That led into the Hold-and-Spin and the Persistent State styles that we see now,” Fagone said.
Back before digital technology was such a big part of slot gaming, it was the classic stepper slots that were what players relied on. Three mechanical wheels with your classic cherry and 7 logos.
Hold-and-Spin and Persistent State started to dictate the market a few years before the pandemic and have been holding strong.
“Persistent state has around since about late 2018,” Fagone said. “88 Fortunes was one of those first, coin spill in the bowl kind of games, and it really stuck. (The trend), it’s got legs. I see it still going a few more years.”
What could be the next trend in slots?
Trends don’t last forever in most industries, and the same can be said for slot machines.
So, what can we expect on the horizon?
A growing trend appears to not be so much about a new theme, but more about giving the players more gaming options at the same time. That includes playing multiple games at the same time.
“One of the things that’s coming up right now is players select-ability, or player-configurable games. So you’re allowing the player at the game to choose between different line bets, or max bets based on denominations,” Fagone said. “A player can now go up to a machine and say, I want to play a nickel, but I want to play it at the nine-line version. But, I also want to play four different games at the same time at that nickel. So, they’re making games with a lot more player configurability. We can put a ton of options on the cabinet and let you as the player sit down and decide what line version, what max bet, what denomination you want. In some of these multi-game screens, you decide what configuration you want all, or six of those screens to be.”
BetMGM is going to continue to offer older and newer options for their players. They feel there are plenty of available trends for all types of players, no matter their gaming preference.
“We know that there is a core group of slot players who know what they like to play, and we love them for it,” Bartlett said. “Now, that isn’t to say that they’re unwilling to try new titles; it’s actually quite the opposite. Through our proprietary in-house engagement tools, we’re able to recommend new games based on an individual’s previously played games. This engine is a powerful instrument in our arsenal and helps our players discover more of what we know they already like or might like, when served it.”
Between the current trends, upcoming trends, and revitalized games to a current technology, the slot machine world appears to be on very strong footing for the future.