Exploring the World of Online Slots: Variations and Themes

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Slot machines used to be rudimentary games with three reels and a single payline. However, they have evolved greatly over the decades thanks to online slots, which give developers many options regarding formats and themes. Today, you can play dozens of online slots variations and enjoy countless themes. Let's discuss these different types of games along with exciting developments in store for the future.

What Types of Slots Variations Are Available?

The online slots world is filled with unique variants that seem to be growing with each passing year. Developers have advanced far beyond the basic 5-reel, 20-payline slot to include new features and formats. You can see some of the most-notable online slots variations below:

  • Classic - These simple games offer three reels and limited paylines ranging from 1-5.
  • 5 reel - A typically 5-reel slot has 10-30 paylines and a couple of features.
  • 243 ways - A type of 5-reel slot that pays through matching symbols in adjacent reels rather than paylines. It offers 243 ways to win in total.
  • 720 ways - Rare kind of online slot that works like a 243-ways game, except it offers 720 ways due to its unusual 3-4-5-4-3 grid.
  • 1,024 ways - This slot works like those above, except that it has a 5x4 grid and 1,024 ways to win.
  • Megaways - A game with reels that hold a random number of positions. The most-common Megaways setup has six reels and 2-7 symbols in each reel. At max height, these games offer up to 117,649 ways (7x7x7x7x7x7).
  • Progressive - These slots feature a progressive jackpot that grows with each bet until it is hit.
  • Cluster pays - A slot that delivers payouts in clusters, such as 5+ matching symbols touching in any manner.
  • 3D - Online slots characterized more by their 3D graphics than anything else.
  • Virtual reality - Games that play on VR headsets and offer a more-lifelike experience.
  • Quads - A setup that features four sets of reels onscreen.

More variations exist beyond those covered above, but, again, these are the most-common distinctions. Slots developers continue to innovate and come up with new ways of entertaining players.

Many, Many Different Themes

You can enjoy a vast number of themes throughout online gaming. Here are examples of the numerous angles that slots providers have come up with:

  • Adventure
  • Cats
  • Fairytale
  • Fishing
  • Historical
  • Leprechauns
  • Medieval
  • Ocean/fish
  • Ogres
  • Rock bands
  • Treasure hunting
  • Wild West
  • Wilderness
  • Wolves

Some themes come up far more than others in online slots. For example, the Wild West and leprechauns are two of the most-common tales that developers use. However, you'll also find plenty of unique storylines that haven't been done a dozen times already. We've seen themes as far out there as gangster dogs and angry reindeer. That said, you can always find something interesting in the slots industry if you look long enough.

Don't Forget about the Many Exciting Online Slots Features

Free spins and a wild symbol used to be enough to satisfy the average player. However, today's gamblers expect much more from their slots experience. That's because developers have been in an arms race to provide the latest and most-innovative features. You can see some of what's available below, ranging from the common to more abstract:

  • Wild symbol - Substitutes for a regular symbol to help form payouts.
  • Walking wild - Moves one reel over after every spin until exiting the reels.
  • Expanding wild - Expands to cover its respective reel, thus offering more wild symbols.
  • Spreading wild - Additional wilds that spread to different positions on the grid.
  • Cascading reels - Winning symbols disappear and leave vacant positions. Symbols from above fall into these spots and offer extra chances to win.
  • Meter - This feature requires you to fill a meter—often with special symbols—and will deliver a reward when you fill the meter.
  • Win multiplier - Multiplies a single win or your overall round win by its respective number (e.g., 10x).
  • Wild multiplier - This is a wild symbol that has a multiplier, which applies to a single win.
  • Free spins - You get to spin the reels without risking any of your bankroll. Most modern games include additional features during these spins like special wild symbols or multipliers.
  • Morphing symbols - A feature that causes certain symbols to become the same and improves your chances at bigger payouts.
  • Expanding reels - Causes the reels to grow, usually by adding another row on top.

What to Expect from Online Slots in the Future

You can see that the gaming industry already has plenty of complex and entertaining extras. However, slots developers never stay still and continue looking for the next engine or feature that will excite players. What can you expect from online slots moving into the future?

For one, we expect software providers to keep looking for new methods of expanding the grid. Big Time Gaming's Megaways has been revolutionary over the past several years, offering up to 1 million+ ways in some cases. However, developers might have more tricks up their sleeves on how to boost winning ways, available cluster payouts, grid sizes, or something else. We're also predicting that virtual reality elements will play a bigger part moving forward. VR has not taken the slots world by storm, but it will likely become more notable in the next 5-10 years. Whatever the case may be, we can't wait to see the next big thing in the mobile slots industry.