Starting with online slots is a great way to get used to online casino play because they are some of the most accessible, most entertaining games to learn.
In the online casino world, you’ll notice that there are often more slots available at a given casino site than all other types of games combined.
This reflects the fact that they are the most popular type of game to play, and there are a lot of reasons that go into that. What we want to do here is introduce you to these games and show you why they beat out all other games in terms of popularity.
To begin with, online slots have several categories. You can break them up by theme, layout, bet sizes, bonus features, the type of graphics they use and plenty of other designations.
However, if you look at the wide variety of themes available, you start to see why so many different kinds of people from so many different backgrounds probably love this type of game.
Simply put, there are tons of options with plenty of popular brands represented from movies, books, video games, television shows, comic books and tons of other forms of media.
On top of that, there are a lot of other themes that have been specially created by the software developers themselves.
How to choose an online slot?
To choose one of the online slots for yourself, you need to answer a few questions.
- First, what kind of themes appeal to you?
- Second, you need to decide how much you care about the level of graphics being used. Some games use simple 2D graphics, and others use more advanced 3D graphics with high-level rendering.
- Third, you need to decide what type of volatility you are comfortable with. We have collected some of the best online slots that you can play for free or real money.
Volatility is a term that has to do with how top-heavy the pay schedule is for a game and how likely you are to experience big swings.
Progressive jackpot games tend to have the highest volatility of any of the video slots out there, but they also have the most significant top prizes available.
This is achieved by really offering a lot less value from small and medium payouts, and this is why the swings are so intense. If you want smaller fluctuations, go for games with a flatter pay schedule.
If you want a shot at the biggest jackpots in the industry, however, then you’ll have to settle for very high volatility and more significant swings.
Play mobile slots on the go
Take advantage of mobile gameplay and play at any location you prefer.
As long as you have an internet connection, you should be good to go.
We have selected some of the best mobile casino’s that offer HTML5 mobile slots which are the same as Desktop slots except these games can be played on any device.
Software developers like Net Entertainment, Microgaming, Play’N Go and Betsoft amongst many other providers have made most of their slots available to play on mobile devices.
Even the popular penny slots are available for mobile gameplay! Tablets are used at home quite often, but with an Android or iPad tablet, you can play wherever you want.
Most smartphones are supported, and even older mobile phones should work at mobile casino’s.
It’s not hard to imagine that within a year, or two internet slot machines will be developed exclusively in HTML5 due to lack of support for a flash player on mobile devices.
The common term flash slots could become better known as HTML5 slots.
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Welcome bonus and free spins
A great aspect of being a new slots player is that all online casino’s offer new players a welcome bonus.
Sometimes you are even eligible for wager free spins as listed in the sidebar on the right.
To get your wager-free spins, you need to sign up at one of the slots casino’s mentioned or claim a welcome bonus on your first deposit at virtually any casino.
To find out more about the welcome bonus offers it’s a good idea to read through our reviews as you will find out what kind of wagering requirements need to be met before you can cash out your bonus.
The bonus amount you receive upon your first deposit varies, so have a look at our reviewed casino list to find out more.
Slot formats and considerations
The typical format for a video slot is three rows with five reels. However, also, some unique formats exist.
You’ll find some games that use five reels with four rows as the most popular layout for this type of game, but plenty of other formats exist.
You’ll also need to think about the types of bonus features that you care about.
Many video slots today have free spins bonus features, and you’ll often get extra goodies in those features like multipliers on your wins, more favourable symbol sets or more wild symbols.
Other games will have different types of features like the classic “pick a box” style games, and some will even just award you instant wins instead of putting you through the process of playing a bonus game.
The key to finding games that work for you is to decide what you’re interested in first and then look for games that match those criteria.
Initial Game Selection
When you’re first starting, it’s going to be a little challenging to figure out precisely what you like because you don’t have a frame of reference.
What we recommend doing is firing up some free slots and taking note of what you like and what you don’t.
Take note of the format of the game, the theme, the bonus features, the types of payouts in the game, the graphics, the sound and anything else that you can think of.
Taking some notes wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
After you try out four or five different games, you’ll start to notice patterns about what you prefer since you’ll begin to develop an understanding of what goes into the games.
Once you have that understanding in place, it’s a lot easier to pick out different games that you prefer.
If you like games with free spins features and great graphics, for example, then it’s not that hard to narrow down the selection based on just a couple of criteria.
Trying out slots for free
Something worth pointing out is that playing free slots doesn’t have to mean that you have no chance of coming out of it with a cash prize.
Lots of online casino sites have free chips or free spins opportunities, especially for new players, that give you a chance to try out the games and software to see if it’s for you.
What’s more is that if you meet the terms and conditions and come out as a winner, you could end up with real money added to your bankroll.
Generally speaking, most of these deals have wagering requirements that have to be met before you can cash out.
For example, a $25 free chip might have a 50x play-through requirement, so you’d need to wager $25 * 50 = $1,250 before you could request a cash-out.
Often you’ll also only be able to cash out your winnings and not the original chip, though this can vary from site to site and promotion to promotion.
Moreover, there are usually maximum cash-out amounts, and this can affect your strategy since you wouldn’t want to play games at stakes where you wouldn’t be able to cash out the majority of a big win because it went over the maximum cash out value.
The bottom line is that, while you can use free slots however you want, they can be used as a tool to get you to a better experience further down the line.
Whether this means you use them to figure out what you like before switching over to real money play, or if it means that you use them with special no deposit bonus promotions to have a free shot at winning real money prizes, they are much more than just sitting around hitting a button over and over for entertainment.
Overall, they’re a great source of entertainment no matter how you want to use them, so don’t feel pressured to play in a different way than you prefer just because someone else would.
One of the reasons why there are so many different online slots, compared to other types of online casino games, is that there’s so much flexibility when it comes to the types of themes used in the games.
You can take any game out there and change the graphics to suit just about any concept that you want, but it’s the way that the theme comes together with the features, soundtrack and other aspects of gameplay that create the overall experience.
An Unsuccessful Example
To give an idea of how important it is that everything comes together, we’re going to provide you with an example of a game from around 2004-2005.
We won’t name this title or the software company that created it, but it suffices to say that it was based on a major movie franchise that was one of the highest-earning film franchises of all time.
The software company who got the rights to the game thought that having a slot themed after this series of movies would be enough to carry it, and they didn’t put much effort into making sure that this theme fit the rest of the gameplay experience.
Guess how that worked out for them?
People played the game a lot in the first couple of weeks that it was released just because it was something new and had a big brand name attached to it.
However, the gameplay itself was well below average, and it quickly fell in popularity once people realised it was all flash and no substance.
This is the problem with relying just on the theme of a game: Without great features and payouts that make sense in the context of that theme, its popularity will not last.
The Types of Slot Themes Out There
Every type of branded media you can think of has been used as themes for online slots.
This includes magazines, films, television shows, comic books, video games, bands and tons more.
The whole idea behind this approach is that these forms of media will already have a bit of a following behind them, so by getting a licensing deal to create an online slot based around these themes, you leverage that popularity through the existing fan base.
However, not all successful slots require a pre-existing brand as a theme.
Many of the most popular games released in the genre are based around somewhat generic themes like Greek mythology, Norse mythology, cops and robbers, romantic scenarios and other general setups for stories.
In these situations, it’s the graphics, gameplay, soundtrack and feature set that ultimately determine the success of the game. Software companies can frequently create their series of slots by developing their own “brand” for the games that players get behind based on gameplay alone.
The Avalon and Thunderstruck series by Microgaming are good examples of this, as is the Jack Hammer series by Net Entertainment.
The Most Popular Themes in the Industry
Some themes have been so popular that it seems like every software company out there has at least one game based on them.
Egyptian themes are pretty famous, as are themes based on wealth. Many of the most massive progressive jackpot games out there today have a wealth-based theme.
Online slots with themes based on animals tend to show up several times each year, as do games based on Asian topics.
What’s ultimately the most important thing to take away from this is that picking a game based on a theme is excellent, and there’s nothing wrong with picking what looks intriguing.
However, if the gameplay of an online slot doesn’t hold up, then it’s not going to keep your interest for very long.