How Slots are Being Designed for New Generations

min read
3D image of a slot machine with a lever and the word ‘future’ spelled out on the reels.
BetMGM Dec 06, 2023, 5:00 AM

It’s no secret that the world has changed rapidly in recent years. Technology development and advancement are moving faster than ever before, with newer, better technology being released all the time, including when it comes to the development of online casino games

Historically, slot machines have driven the most revenue on land-based casino floors, and today, they still account for about 80% of the average casino’s income. The growth of gaming technologies has also led to a substantial rise in the popularity of online slot machines. Online casinos tend to offer a much wider variety of slot games for players to choose from, and they are much more accessible and convenient to play. So, it’s not too surprising that slot machines have become the most played games at online casinos as well. 

In recent years, there have been many innovations in slot machine graphics, paylines, and bonus features, but research suggests that there’s still room for growth when appealing to new generations of players. Even with all of the advancements in technology, the average age of casino patrons in the U.S. was still 42 years old by 2022. So, both land-based and online casinos have invested a lot of time, effort, and money into finding ways to appeal to the new generation of gamblers, including slot game development specifically targeted at the younger generations. 

Developers are approaching slot machine design and how they create these types of games in different ways. These include appealing to a broader audience, moving towards skill-based games, and embracing technology in more areas of the casino experience.

Appealing to a Wider Audience

According to a study by San Diego-based Game Changing Technologies (GCT), slots are typically played by an older demographic who prefer the predictability and simplicity of the types of games you’d normally find on a casino floor.

However, this research shows that the up-and-coming market — which comprises Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Z players — is under-served. This study didn’t include online slot machines specifically, but the implication is that there’s room for expansion when creating the best online slots for a wider demographic, too. 

Slot game developers have already begun the work of stepping up the way their games are played. For years, slots have been released with exciting bonus rounds, new features, and immersive storylines and themes that attract a much wider audience than the classic three-reel slot games. However, developers are reportedly shifting their focus to creating new slot games aimed at bridging the gap between their games and the online games that the younger generations enjoy. This means that, despite slots being widely played because of their simplicity in the past, newer devices are predicted to require more skill to play. Some slots are being developed that feature joysticks for a new gaming experience, as well as others that allow users to play in tandem or against one another, as they would when gaming online.

Moving Towards Skill-Based Games

You only have to look at the growing success of video games and esports to know that gaming is an integral part of many people’s lives. Technology has evolved to the point where players can feel like they are taking part in a story, where they have a chance to test their skills, compete with others, and perform tasks within a team.

If you like to play slots online, you might prefer to sit back and relax rather than shoot your way through an RPG. Nevertheless, casino gaming is no longer a passive experience where players have no agency in the outcome of the gameplay. This desire is even evident in casino slot games, where the outcomes are designed to be random (except in pick-me bonus features and other gamified features in specific titles).

So, to capture an emerging market’s attention, there needs to be a shift in how these kinds of games are designed. While there’s an understandable concern that these games might not be fair if the outcomes aren’t entirely random, there are creative ways to introduce fully interactive features to engage more users in the long term by introducing elements of skill. 

Examples of skills-based games include the slot version of Pong, which Bally Technologies developed in agreement with Atari. This game brings all of the interactive elements of the successful arcade game to the reels (with a chance to win real money).

Embracing Technology

There’s already been a significant shift in casino game development for both land-based and online slot machines, with the introduction of more skill-based and video game-type elements.

But apart from adding interactive elements to new slot games, the evolution of audiovisual technologies, like VR casino games, means that the entire experience of all types of casino games could be different in the years ahead. This could attract players looking to do more than just sit (or stand) and stare at a screen, even if they get to do it from the comfort of their own home or while lying on the couch. 

Most video slots have been optimized for mobile, making them more accessible to a wider market. But what if you could put on a VR headset and step right into a theme from one of your favorite slot games, and interact with all of the elements in a more “real” way? 

If you look at the popularity of live dealer games, it doesn’t seem that hard to imagine that it could be possible to develop live experiences for slots and other casino-inspired games, too. For example, imagine being able to venture into the jungles in NetEnt’s Gonzo’s Quest or sit next to IGT’s Cleopatra while overlooking the pyramids.

It might seem a bit far-fetched, but it’s exciting to think about all of the possibilities that could come from interacting in a virtual environment and having some agency in directing the outcome of a game. VR slots are undoubtedly a giant leap from sitting passively and pushing buttons behind a screen.

Enjoy the Latest Slot Games at BetMGM

Whether you prefer to keep it simple or like the idea of taking a leap into fantastical or historic landscapes when you spin the reels, BetMGM has all kinds of casino slot games on offer.

While you may not be able to travel virtually into the South American jungles or to ancient cities along the Nile (just yet), BetMGM can offer you an immersive experience. Register to play from a vast range of real online slots that include all kinds of mesmerizing bonus features. It’s not certain precisely how games will evolve in the years ahead — interactive gameplay is definitely in the future.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.