The ancestor of the modern fruit machine was invented in 1891, by Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn, New York. By inserting a nickel, the player would set five drums of playing cards spinning and win various prizes for different poker hands. Around the same time, Charles Fey of San Francisco developed the ‘Liberty Bell’ mechanism, with three reels containing symbols such as hearts, diamonds, horseshoes, and the bell that lent the machine its name.
Since then, slots technology has evolved year upon year, decade upon decade, to a modern reality it’s likely Sittman, Pitt and Fey could never have imagined. I wonder if they would have believed that one day, people would be playing versions of their inventions on book-sized machines with glowing screens, with memories of their own stored on minute silicone chips?
It follows, then, that we can’t possibly picture how slot machines will be played in fifty or one-hundred years’ time (assuming androids have not taken over the world by then). Still, it can be fun to make some predictions, based on the promise of today’s innovation.
The last decade has seen a huge boom in the popularity of online slots games, and it seems the next decade may be all about Virtual Reality slots. Headsets like the Google Cardboard and the Samsung Gear allow players to ‘enter’ a virtual world by mounting their mobile phones behind lenses. Players experience exotic environments in the first person, in which they can look around, and move with the aid of controllers. More complex and expensive headsets such as the Oculus Rift have their screens built in and deliver even higher definition, more realistic gameplay. Developers clearly see the potential of this technology for slots. In 2017, NetEnt introduced a prototype Virtual Reality version of their popular ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ slot, ‘Jack’s World VR’. As technology advances, who knows? We may be able to slip on a headset and enter a virtual arcade so realistic it is indistinguishable from reality, greet friends in this virtual world, wander among the fruit machines, sit down, and choose a game.
Community games are amongst the most popular land-based casino slots here on Wizard. These allow players to ‘link up’ with other players’ machines to share certain aspects of a game. Players seem to relish cooperating with their friends to work towards jackpots, share bonus features and earn rewards. It’s possible that in the future, developers will further explore the social potential of slots games. Could large online community slots games with chat features become the next big thing? Shared servers, in which players can greet, interact with, and team up with other players’ avatars, much like multiplayer non-gambling computer games, seems like an exciting prospect.
Greater Player Control
A great many online slots allow the player to alter certain aspects of the game to their liking. These features are great, but at the moment tend to be limited to stake amount, number of win lines and autoplay features. Could the future bring a more impressive level of player control over their slots game? Imagine being able to completely customise your slots experience – in effect, build your own game from the ground up. Choose the number of reels, the theme, your symbols, the background, the music, and the sound effects. A future in which the line between player and developer becomes blurred, and slots games begin to evolve in direct sympathy with players’ desires.