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Technology's Influence on Slot Machines

Time keeps going, but the fundamental design of the slot machine stays the same

The future of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology is backed up by data. Investment in the field often surpasses that of the majority of tech sectors. In early 2016, augmented reality super-hush-hush startup Magic Leap closed a $794 million round C. And every tech company worth mentioning (Google, Samsung, Facebook, Apple, LG) is pouring substantive resources into those still-weird-looking headsets. Case in point—financial data to prove an assertion. Slot machines are the most successful game ever created. Did we say “KaBOOM”? And mind you, this isn’t the opinion of the writer who pens these lines, nor is it wishful thinking. It is cold, hard data. Don’t believe it? Just keep on reading.

Why Would You Care?

Because learning new stuff is cool and knowledge is power. And because, as you’ll see, there are pretty surprising lessons to learn from the slot industry about how to create killer products that resonate like a 10-ton wrecking ball with its audience. Now let’s break down this slot declaration and revel in the data behind it.

Slots have been around since 1895, fundamentally almost unchanged. Other than toilet paper, can you think of another product that’s changed so little in the last hundred-and-something years? Duration and continuity speak of popularity, and a winning formula. Yes, we do think toilet paper is a winning product. Need proof? There’s still no viable alternative, not a single mind that brilliantly figured out a better way to, well, you know the rest.

These days, although folks like to talk down slot machines, they cover 80 percent of every casino floor in the world. And that’s a hard-core fact. Also, they are the big moneymakers of the casinos; not the high-roller poker tables hidden at the back, the glitzy roulette, or the dice-blowers at the craps tables.

Most of all, slot machines manage to keep players for the longest stretches of time. Call it addiction, call it zoning out, call it witchcraft or hypnosis—whatever, going back to the fact—slot machines keep players engaged more than any other game.

So What is the Slot Secret?

The simplistic answer would be that it is a simple game, no learning curve, just spin and win, or not. All true, but it is very un-geeky to settle for the simplistic, obvious answer. There is always stuff percolating under the surface.

Diversity is a major proponent of popularity for slot machines. You can find slot themes that cover basically any field of interest of any person on this planet. You like history? Cool. Check out Mighty Sphinx and Egyptian Magic to explore the mysteries of this ancient powerhouse. More into South American adventure myths? Netent’s Gonzo’s Quest is waiting for you, based on the very real Gonzalo Pizarro and his quest to find the lost city of Eldorado.

If you’re into fairy tales and classic literature you've got Robin Hood, Aladdin, Jack and the Beanstalk, King Kong, Dracula, and many more. And if you're fascinated with Asia, you’ve got gems like Koi Princess that plays like manga, or Lights, which is set in a magical Chinese lake at the middle of night. And the list goes on and on—comics fan, check, sci-fi enthusiasts, check, epic battles advocates, check.

Photo via Win Slots

Adapting to a Changing Environment

Another major winning point for slot machines is their ability to adapt to a changing market. During the 90s video slots appeared, cashing in on the global trend of video games. It’s not a leap to be taken lightly—from mechanical to digital, not many products managed this leap. Take guillotines for example. Never quite managed the same fit.

When the internet erupted, the slot industry was among the first to recognize the potential of this brand new thing called the web and figure out how to take their marvel of a product to the true masses, all around the globe, in the comfort of their homes. Again, going from casino halls to browsers takes a lot of thought, a lot of daring, and careful maneuvering. By then these folks knew their product very, very well and had a massive and devoted following. Still, the slot industry transition to the web was smooth as a baby’s part that you apply toilet paper to.

This is crucial. Without giving up on their core value, the slot industry recognized a shift in the market, two shifts in the market, and was quick to jump on the wagon. As it turned out, slots were classic video-online animals. Even these days there are tons of new slot sites popping up all over the place, all the time. They found a whole new generation of players awaiting them on the web and on mobile especially, a generation that is ripe and ready for the onslaught of online promotions and free bonuses—and the slot machine continued to prosper.

A Lesson to Be Learned from the Slot

So we made an argument and proved it based on facts. That’s cool, and pretty geeky too, which is cool as well. And if we wish to draw a substantial conclusion, it might be this:

If you are in the tech and online sphere, working along the lines of product development, design, code, app, or games, there is a lot to learn from the good old slot; how to create a very mass-market product, how to attract the most diverse audience, with vastly different interest and walks of life, how to make your product "addictive" in a good way, how to make your customers come back time after time asking for more and, how to prolong, for the maximum span of time imaginable, the duration of time folks spend with your product. Eat dust, Mark!

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Technology's Influence on Slot Machines
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