Slot Machines: Past, Present & Future
Slot machines remain one of the most popular entertainment activities around, with people across the world playing their favourite games on a regular basis.
Technology has had a major impact on the industry, providing the tools for developers to create multi-faceted slots that keep players engaged for hours on end.
Those efforts have clearly paid dividends from a financial perspective, with the global slot machine market size currently valued at around $2.89 billion.
With experts predicting that revenues in the sector are expected to top more than $3.2bn by the end of 2026, these are clearly exciting times to be involved in slot game development.
Read on as we look at the history of slot machines and how the internet subsequently provided a platform for operators such as Wink Slots to radically change the landscape.
We also consider why slots have held such enduring appeal with the general public and predict what the future may hold for the industry.
The Start of the Slots Craze
The first gambling machine was developed by a New York based company towards the end of the 19th century and provided a template for subsequent slot games.
The early incarnations were purely mechanical and it wasn’t until the second half of the following century that ‘modern tech’ innovations started to transform the slots scene.
Bally created the first fully electromechanical slot machine in 1963, while Fortune Coin Co moved things onto another level by developing the first video slot 13 years later.
Slots became an integral part of the entertainment scene thereafter, with amusement arcades, casinos, bars and bingo halls amongst the venues that cashed in on the clamour for the games.
The 80s Slots Boom
The early part of the 1980s saw a major shift away from mechanical slots, with computerised machines revolutionising the industry.
These advanced machines featured bonus levels and higher jackpots, thus taking the gameplay experience onto a completely different level.
During this period, video slots generally took up more than two-thirds of a casino’s floor space and were responsible for around 70% of their revenues.
Slots were also helped by the boom in arcade games such as Space Invaders, with their rise in popularity attracting new players into venues around the world.
The Internet Sparks a New Phenomenon
The creation of the internet transformed the slots industry even further, sparking a major shift in how people played their favourite games.
Sites such as Wink Slots expertly leveraged technology to their advantage, offering players the chance to access hundreds of exciting slot machines on the device of their choice.
Developers like International Game Technology, NetEnt, Microgaming and Playtech have become huge global businesses by creating slots that that push the boundaries of tech.
With players able to win millions of dollars at the touch of a button, the slots industry is fully expected to continue booming for many years to come.
‘Seasideness’: Slots Tap into the Past
Understanding why slots remain so popular has many different elements to it, but one of the biggest reasons is their association with cultural links to places that people associate with happiness.
Slots have long been linked with seaside arcades, sitting neatly alongside video games, pinball machines, air hockey games and other types of amusements.
Researchers have argued that people look back on their visits to such venues due to the existence of a generic sense of ‘seasideness’, which provides a romanticised view of coastal places.
This type of nostalgia interplays with our own personal recollections, a factor that explains why many individuals feel so positively about slot games.
Feeding the Desire for Instant Joy
Another key component that fuels positive feelings towards slots is their unwavering ability to provide players with instant thrills.
Other casino games such as poker, baccarat and blackjack can take years to master, but even the most feature laden slots are very easy to understand.
From the moment you first spin the reels on a game, you could be just a few seconds away from landing a winning combination.
This feeds the human desire to pursue even more excitement, thus explaining why players keep playing and returning to the games time after time.
Spinning the Wheel of Fortune
While nostalgia and thrill-seeking play a key role in the popularity of slots, they are a support act to the true star of the show – the bumper jackpots!
There are a wide range of slots that give players the chance to scoop life-changing amounts of money via progressive jackpot payouts.
These often run into seven figures, thus creating the possibility that someone could become a millionaire from just a single spin of the reels.
While the odds on achieving this feat are not too high, the fact that it is a possibility is what gives slots such enduring appeal for players all over the world.
Social Slots Play Their Part
Playing slot machines is great fun, particularly for anyone who manages to land a bumper progressive jackpot at their favourite casino.
However, for many people slots are just a form of entertainment where winning real money isn’t the ultimate aim.
Many sites now offer social slots, providing players with the chance to play their favourite games purely for fun.
Social networking site Facebook also has a great range of slots where people can play for free for virtual coins and prizes.
The Future of Slot Machines
Modern slots are far more sophisticated than the very earliest machines and the online casino landscape is fully expected to continue evolving over the next few years.
Many leading slot developers have already started to dabble with Virtual Reality (VR) tech and this is likely to be the ‘next big thing’ in the sector.
Innovative VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift open up a wealth of possibilities, allowing operators to offer players a much more immersive gaming experience.
VR enables players to transport themselves into real-world environments, thus replicating the look and feel of playing slots in brick-and-mortar casinos.
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