Most Revolutionary Online Slots
Online real money slots have been around since 1996. In 1994, the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade and Processing act, and Microgaming, a gambling software company, sprung up almost instantly when this occurred in the Isle of Man to get in early on this potentially fledgling sector. They were indeed first to the race, as Microgaming became the one to develop the original internet casino software. However, it took two more years for players from all corners of the globe to start laying down money bets, as that only happened once Toronto-based company, CryptoLogic, pioneered their online transaction technology and made remote gambling a thing.
Naturally, given their simplicity, digital reel-spinners were the dominant gaming product on the internet in the 1990s. However, that trend never changed, as they have remained this sector’s cash-cows to this day, raking in around 70% of all industry revenues. Nowadays, their main competition is live dealer tables. Lottery-style products are also making some waves, especially ones boasting the best bingo offers on the Web.
In the start, online slots were nothing more than clones of three-reel, three-row fruit machines found at Vegas gaming establishments. However, as technology evolved, so did their gameplay. Below, we look at four games that redefined this gambling genre and made it what it is now.
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Progressive games build up a prize pool of all losing bets players have made until someone gets super lucky and hits a winning combo that claims this accumulated pot. These are the gaming products that can turn an investment of a few pennies into millions. Before 1999, they were only available at land-based venues until Cash Splash changed that by becoming the internet’s first progressive game. It is a Microgaming title that incorporated a retro slot machine theme, featuring the classic 3×3 grid.
While it is accurate that Cash Splash kicked off the internet progressive slot sub-genre, it did not make any millionaires. That did not start happening until the tail end of the 2000s, thanks to another Microgaming product called Mega Moolah. Released in 2006, Mega Moolah features a jungle theme, and at the start of the 2010s, it regularly began paying out millions. Per the most recent estimates, this game makes at least one online gambler into a millionaire every nine to ten weeks. Its most substantial reward stands at $20 million, paid out in April 2021.
NetEnt is a Swedish developer that now operates under the Evolution umbrella. They are one of Microgaming’s top rivals and are responsible for producing the most famous online reel-spinner of all time, Starburst. Gonzo’s Quest, whose main character borrows his name and look from the famed 16-century Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Pizzaro, is another NetEnt game that has sent dramatic shockwaves throughout this sphere. It hit online casinos in 2011 and popularized a feature known as the avalanche mechanic. Instead of spinning reels, the game features symbols that drop onto the grid. Whenever a winning combo forms in Gonzo’s Quest, the tokens a part of it explode, and new ones fall in their place, potentially forming a fresh win.
The avalanche mechanic, undoubtedly, changed the game, so to speak, as it introduced more dynamism to online slot gameplay. The same can get said for the Megaways engine, invented by Australia’s BigTime Gaming. Megaways slots are ones where the symbol height on each reel varies per spin. For example, the first reel could have two, while the fifth one seven. That allows for more potential ways to win. Bonanza is a 2016 BigTime Gaming slot where the Megaways engine initially got implemented.