Competitive gaming has helped esports become a global behemoth. Players enjoy the thrill of competition and progression. They want to embark on a journey not only to win, but also to rank and level up. These trends have started to generate a ripple effect in other online gaming industries, particularly in the online casino scene.
The conventional slot machine based on three reels and three paylines with some fruit-themed slot symbols is no more. Players don’t just want a physical connection with the mechanical lever. They want immersion. That’s why slot developers have ushered in a new form of video slot, one which offers gamification elements that go further in attempting to reward players for their play. Even the leading online casino operators are dishing out free spins on these emerging slot titles without requiring deposit to better raise awareness.
What is gamification?
First and foremost, it’s a good idea to understand what gamification means. To gamify something is to incorporate an element of competitiveness and progression into a game, helping it to feel more exciting and challenging. On the face of it, a video slot shouldn’t be considered a challenge, given that the algorithms of online slots set the average return to player percentage on your behalf, giving the player little if any means of influencing the outcome of the slot.
However, by gamifying a video slot, iGaming developers are successfully making monotonous tasks like hitting the spin button more interesting for players who bring greater expectations. Gamified video slots incorporate objectives and goals that players can meet. This could be a meter positioned beside the reels of a slot that fills up each time a player lands a certain symbol on the reels. Once the meter fills up, players are granted a free spin or a bonus game. It’s that element of progression and providing a carrot at the end of that progression that is aimed to make next-generation slots more engaging.
The latest video slot titles released reflect these changes. These games don’t just require players to spin the reels. There is an element of choice that helps players to better define the path they take in search of bigger payouts.
Reaching out to millennials
In today’s gaming world, there is always something new available to capture the attention of millennial consumers. The iGaming industry as a whole required a change of approach to appeal to the millennial demographic.
Gamifying the newest slot releases has gone a long way towards making these games appear more worthy of players’ time and effort, particularly millenials. The inclusion of skill-based bonus rounds has been a big help. The hope for operators is that players will no longer think about the random number generator working in the background, and will instead focus on the selections they can make and how those choices might affect their outcomes.
How far can gamification go with video slots? Is it possible that slots will be able to offer experiences more in line with traditional games that keep people coming back for more?
In some cases, it is already happening. Take the officially licensed Aliens slot game. This immersive video slot, developed by NetEnt, featured carefully constructed visuals and audio snippets from the hit sci-fi horror movie franchise. It also gamified the action by offering three different levels of play, the second of which, The Encounter, plays more like a first-person shooter than a slot.
There is greater flexibility and customisability with the latest video slots, allowing players to define their own goals on the reels. The Good Girl Bad Girl slot release allows players to select their own volatility on the reels. The lower the volatility, the more frequent, though smaller, the payouts are likely to be. At the other end of the spectrum, high volatility means that payouts are less frequent but considerably bigger when they do occur. It empowers players to choose their own risk-reward ratio before they begin.
Some slots are even inspired by the open-world games of the likes of Minecraft. Rabcat’s Castle Builder II slot allows players to design their own fantasy home amid a host of interactive slot features on the reels. The possibilities are many.
What is the future for gamified slots?
As technology evolves, the iGaming sector is continually looking for new ways to entice and retain millennial players. The next logical step for gamified video slots is to go even more immersive with virtual reality.
One can imagine being able to enter a virtual simulation of a video slot game, with a digital world of the slot’s theme evolving around the player with every spin. It’s possible that the bonus games and reel modifiers will involve VR players physically, requiring them to think and move for their big-money payouts.
Statista forecasts that the online casino sector will be worth a staggering $94.4 billion by the turn of 2024. When you consider the pioneering technologies that are being invested in to revolutionise slot gaming, it’s easy to see why the world of iGaming could have a whole new dynamic in the coming years.