Online slots represent the jewel in the crown of casino websites. While table games and tournaments might carry more prestige, it is the slots that repeatedly attract the most players and revenues for these sites.
The immense popularity of slots games is no flash in the pan either; they have been the biggest draws for a long time. Reasons for that include the fact that they are simple to understand, cheap to bet on and are constantly being updated with fresh new ideas and themes.
People take the presence of large numbers of slots games at casino sites for granted, but a lot of effort goes into the creation of them. That is what we will be exploring in this article, as we look at the programming software that makes them work so well.
The Background to Online Slots
The digital slots games that we know and love today are the successors to the fruit machines and one-arm bandits of the past. They were staples of games arcades and casinos in the pre-internet era of gaming.
A version of those machines can still be found in casinos today, but the physical machines are often connected to the internet, so they are not quite the same as the original ones. Those devices operated mechanically, with a lever that made the reels spin, thanks to a central shaft inside that had rotating gears around it.
The whole thing was a lot simpler than the sophisticated software used to operate the online slots at Rainbow Riches Casino and other modern gaming sites.
The Software Behind Online Slots
Online slots did not actually appear for the first time until the 1990s, with the arrival of the internet. However the notion of applying computer software to slots dates back to the 1970s, when the first video slot was launched.
This utilised logic boards to ensure random results and replaced the analogue reels with a digital screen. The link between this and the slots of today is very clear to see.
The software behind modern online slots can be broken down into two parts:
- Operational software
- Design software
The operational software is what makes the games function correctly and ensures that the play is fair. The design software makes the games look good and enhances the overall experience for the player.
The single most important piece of operational software behind online slots is Random Number Generator (RNG) technology. The purpose of it is to make sure that the results when players spin the reels of a slot game are completely random rather than planned sequences.
It is this software that allows the player to be sure that a particular slot game is completely fair and trustworthy. Although betting on slots is a lot cheaper than playing other types of online casino games, real money is still involved.
Therefore players want to be sure that they have a fair shot at a payout when they bet on the slot pay lines. RNG software is specifically designed to replicate the completely random results produced by the mechanical slot machines of the past.
Every new game on a slot sees the computer generate 100 numbers at random, with the RNG software determining which reel icons show up after each spin using a precise mathematical formula. Hacking into RNG software is close to impossible so it ensures honest gaming for slots players.
The other important piece of operational slot software is the Return to Player (RTP). Every slot game has an RTP percentage that is determined by algorithm software.
To explain how it works: a slot with a 95% RTP will pay an average 0.95 in winnings for each £1 bet, with the other 0.05 going to the online casino. It improves the experience for players by letting them know in advance what their winning odds are, so they can choose a slot with a high RTP.
The second key aspect of slots software is the design, which encompasses everything from the graphics to the audio used in the games. Modern online slots usually have themes and these are developed through their visuals and audio.
The earlier versions of online slots often had quite primitive graphics. The technology used to create the visuals in the past was usually the Macromedia authoring software called Flash.
However that proved unable to keep up with the demand for better slots imagery and the increasing enthusiasm for playing the games on mobile phones instead of laptops. Slot game developers increasingly made the switch to HTML5 when programming their new games, as this allows for better image quality and makes it easier for games to be optimised for mobiles.
The ultra clear and colourful visuals in games like the Rainbow Riches slot series are down to these improvements in slot design software. Games now often feature video clips from hit movies coupled with soundtrack snippets, making for exciting play.
That is not the end for slot software though. Game developers and casino sites are now looking to integrate virtual reality (VR) software into the design of the games.
That will allow the themes of top slots to become ever-more immersive and real for the players.
The programming software behind online slots has consistently improved the experience for players through fairer play and better audio/visual quality. VR will be the next step forward.