One of the defining features of casino slots is their simplicity. As developers and operators vie for the attention of players, though, slots have become the target of a fair amount of experimentation, meaning that there are plenty of games out there that are played quite differently from the old-timey fruit machines. For the beginner, these newer titles can involve a slight learning curve.
A good example is Megaways, a recent invention of Big Time Gaming (BTG). There are around 20 slots at the casino at Paddy Power branded with the Megaways name, ranging from the ultra-modern NFT Megaways to favorites like Reel King Megaways and 88 Fortunes Megaways. The obvious questions to ask are – what exactly is the Megaways mechanic, and why is it so widespread?
Despite its inception somewhere inside BTG headquarters, Megaways is no longer bound to a single developer. Over the past few years, the Australian company has allowed creators such as Pragmatic Play, Red Tiger, Scientific Games, and Blueprint Gaming to attach the Megaways name and gimmick to their own slots games, greatly expanding the renown of BTG’s invention.
In brief, Megaways is a neat bit of programming that randomizes the rules of any slot it’s placed within. The usual outcome is that reels can have between two and seven “stops” – i.e. individual symbols – on them, which also modifies the number of different chances players have to claim a prize. At itslowest and highest values, there are between 324 and more than half a million different ways to win, depending on the slot.
Of course, these ways to win are called Megaways and they serve as an evolution on the more traditional paylines. In older slots, paylines are fixed and effectively mean that players get winning combinations by lining up three identical symbols in horizontal and vertical lines. With Megaways, depending on how many stops are on each reel, these lines can run in all sorts of directions – and can even turn multiple corners.
Due to the success of Megaways, developers have tried to emulate Big Time Gaming’s most famous innovation by either adding their own twist on the same concept or by coming up with something new altogether. BTG itself got in on this trend by introducing the Megaquads and Megaclusters mechanics, which can split special symbols into four or split the reels into four separate slots, respectively.
NetEnt, one of the biggest publishers of casino games in the world, mixed Megaways with its own Cascading Reels in the game Gonzo’s Quest.
Cascading Reels are one of the more straightforward changes added to slots in recent years but no less significant. This feature simply removes all the symbols from the board every time the player wins, just like plenty of Android games do. As the symbols are usually represented in blocks when Cascading Reels are implemented, this can produce some spectacular visual effects.
In summary, slots aren’t all the same. With so much competition in the online casino space, expect new gameplay features to crop up in the future, too.