Evolution of online classic slots
Do you love fruit machines and one-armed bandits? Classic slots continue to be popular with online casino players. We chart their evolution from arcade to online casino.
Slot machine design has come a long way since the 19th century when Charles August Fey's Liberty Bell stunned the world with its innovative automatic payout.
But in a world of 3D, HD and VR slots, classic fruit machine-style games remain a hit with players. In fact, you will still find easy-to-play classic slots in the Betway casino lobby.
Why are classic slots still popular with players and what's the next step in their evolution?
A very brief history of slot machines
Although Charles August Fey launched in 1891 what is generally regarded as the world's first slot machine, it wasn't until 1907 that the classic slot design appeared.
Herbert Mills' Operator Bell was the first slot to feature a BAR symbol. The icon has remained a firm fixture of games ever since.
By the 1960s, Bally's Money Honey slot machine was wowing players in Las Vegas and across the US. Its electromechanical design and hopper meant that the player could win up to 500 coins in a single spin.
But the advent of video slots in the late '70s and online slots in the mid-1990s couldn't kill off fruit machines for good. As software has improved and reels and bonus features have evolved, developers still like to offer players a range of simple, no-nonsense classic slots.
How classic slots work
You will find a selection of classic games under the 'Retro Slots' tab in Betway's lobby. If you've played fruit machines in your local amusement arcade or pub, you'll know what to expect: simple graphics and bonuses and a focus on quick gameplay.
Classic slots tend to follow a similar pattern, and may include one or all of theses features:
- 1-5 paylines
- 3 reels
- Fruit symbols/BAR symbols
- Minimal bonus features
- Trail bonus
Let's take a few examples from the Betway slots lobby to explore the common features of a classic online slot.
Fruit Slots (Microgaming)
Fruit Slots is nearly 20 years old but still attracts players for its easy gameplay. The game has 3 reels and one horizontal payline.
You win a prize for matching symbols across the payline. Any two symbols and a cherry on reel 3 awards 3, 6 or 9 coins depending on your bet size.
Other fruit symbols include lemons, oranges, plums and watermelons. You can win a jackpot by hitting three fruit salad symbols on the payline while betting the max coins.
Fruit Slots is the perfect example of the classic slot: minimal paylines, high variance, and no bonus features.
Cash Splash 3-Reel (Microgaming)
Cash Splash is one of Microgaming's most recognisable classic slots. So popular was the 3-reel version that the developer later released a 5-reel edition of the game.
Like Fruit Slots, Cash Splash 3-Reel has just one payline running across the centre of the reels. If you hit any symbol plus a cherry you win a prize. A Cash Splash symbol acts as a wild symbol and will complete winning combinations. A wild on the payline pays 2x.
Where Cash Splash is unusual is in its progressive jackpot. If you play the maximum coins and land three Cash Splash symbols on the payline, you will win the progressive.
Mega Joker (NetEnt)
NetEnt's Mega Joker recalls classic British fruit machines. In fact, the game's interface looks exactly like a UK fruitie from a pub or arcade.
Mega Joker features two sets of reels. The base game reels are spun first. If you hit a winner on one of the five paylines, the play switches to a secondary set of reels at the top of the screen. It's here that you can play for bigger jackpots.
The resurgence in classic online games
The Betway Casino lobby has plenty of slots for fans of fruit machines and old-school games. But developers are still using themes and styles from classic slots in their new games.
Microgaming's new Classic 243 uses cutting-edge technology but keeps the familiar fruit and bell symbols for players to enjoy.
Classic 243 features Microgaming's familiar 243 ways to win format. Instead of conventional paylines, you win a prize simply by matching symbols anywhere on adjacent reels. The game also features wilds and a free spins bonus.
The technology may have changed over the decades, but the gameplay of classic slots has virtually remained unchanged since the 19th century. You can now spin 3-reel games on your mobile phone or desktop.
Not everyone wants big free spins bonuses and hundreds of paylines, and as such there will always be room for classic slots online.