The technology behind slots has drastically changed since the invention of the very first slot machine over a century ago. Mechanized slot machines have relied heavily on physical gears, levers, discs, kicker, stoppers and a handle. Recently, just over the last couple of decades, these have been replaced by modern, computerized machines that rely on step motors, digital pulses and RNGs (Random Number Generators). Now, even computerized machines have become outmoded. The need for physical casinos has essentially been left behind with the advent of automated, online casino gaming software compatible with desktops and mobile devices. This most recent technology has allowed players to access virtual casinos from the comfort of home or anywhere with Internet access.
Random Number Generators (RNGs) & Online Video Slots
While the technology behind slots has changed dramatically, there are a few essential things integral to the concept of basic slot design that haven’t altered all that much such as the inclusion of rows, reels, paylines, spins, wagers and jackpot(s). Apart from differing themes, online video slots can also vary in bonuses and variance (low, medium or high) all of which is controlled by RNG or Random Number Generators.
RNG technology essentially determines the frequency and size of wins over a period of time by using a programmed algorithm. Each time the ‘spin’ button is pressed on an online video slot, a number is assigned that translates into a specific symbol organization on the reels. This is completely random which, incidentally, contributes to ensuring its ‘fairness.’
Online Video Slot Variance
Online slots can be programmed to produce Hit Rates that reflect wins of certain proportions and frequencies relative to low, medium or high variance. Online video slots with a high variance, such as Playtech’s Top Gun, produce wins less frequently. However, those high variance wins are often more profitable than slots that are set at a lower variance. Microgaming’s Hell Boy utilizes a medium variance algorithm producing more frequent wins that are a mix of profitable and non-profitable pays. Low variance slots, such as NetEnt’s Holmes and the Stolen Stones (Progressive Jackpot slot), produce frequent wins. However, those low variance wins are often less profitable when compared to medium or high variance wins.
RTP (Return to Player)
RTP is programmed into online video slots via RNG. The Return to Player is an average figure based off of millions of test spins. It can tell players what to expect when playing a video slot over an extended period of time. For example, a slot with an RTP of 96% assures players that for every £100 spent, £96 will hypothetically be returned. Of course, players must also take into account other variables such as Progressive Jackpots (which inflate RTP), variance and time spent playing when considering how a slot’s RTP will translate to practical application. Manufacturers often design slots with multiple RTP options that online casinos can choose from. Most of the time, that RTP will be listed somewhere on the slot itself.