It is hard to believe, but it wasn’t that long ago that online slots didn’t exist. Its evolution has mirrored that of the internet as gambling providers were swift to take advantage of online possibilities. In just over two decades, online gambling has overtaken Hollywood as one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world. At the heart of that expansion is the humble slot, which has seen huge developments. Slots are massive now with thousands of options available – and growing daily. So how did we get here, and what does the future bring? Let’s dive into the heady evolution of online slots.
The Birth of Online Slots
The first free online slots began to appear alongside the first online casinos. Who exactly launched the first online casino is a hotly contested topic and one that will rage until the end of time. But, it was 1994 when gaming providers obtained licenses to start operating online, and the revolution began. One of the first was the Gaming Club operated by Microgaming and licensed in Gibraltar. Microgaming, of course, is one of the oldest developers of online slots and was there since the very beginning. As you would imagine, online slots at this stage were simple affairs, mainly fruit in theme with basic graphics and functional sounds. The earliest consisted of just three reels, one payline, and a stake and the spin button. They might have been light on features, but the groundwork was laid.
The gaming public proved receptive to this new form of online gaming, and other developers leapt on board. Playtech was one of the first on the scene with their products. What gamblers quickly realized was that online slots offered a much better RTP than their land-based counterparts and made the switch in droves. Still, this was early days, and the burgeoning technology hampered online slots. Limited use of the internet and the slow speed of dial-up made them inconvenient for many to use. That would seriously change with the launch of broadband. All of a sudden, players could load up casino websites and slots at speeds no one would have dreamed of previously. This grew the online gambling crowd exponentially and attracted the attention of more developers.
The real game-changer occurred when smartphones were released, and the iPhone in particular in 2007. Now gamblers had so much more access to online slots with all the anonymity and convenience that smartphones brought with them. One of the first mobile gambling sites was The Betting Site in the UK, and Texas Hold ‘Em was one of the biggest apps of 2008. In 2010 cross-platform software started to be produced so players could enjoy the same games regardless of device type. The number of online slots available exploded and never looked back. Now, wherever there is internet coverage, which is practically everywhere, players can fire up their favorite online slots and have a punt.
The Future of Online Slots
Aside from the fact that there will probably be more fruit slots released, it is impossible to predict the future. But, let’s have a crack anyway. The growth and quality of online slots are largely driven by improved technology, and that trend sees no sign of changing. In the future, we can expect better graphics, sounds, bigger and better features, and more inventive gameplay. There is also a trend for increasingly immersive gaming experiences. Why play a game when you can live it? To that end, we can probably expect more integration between online slots and virtual reality. We have a taste of that already via Oculus Rift and sites like SlotsAdviser.com. But there is so much more that could be done in that space. Whatever happens in the future we can expect bigger, better, prettier slots, with mind-boggling bonuses and jackpots to accompany them.