Payline slots have always been the predominant form of slot machines. Even today, most slots feature paylines.
With these games, you form wins by landing matching symbols in active lines. This simple concept has satisfied gamblers for over 100 years.
However, alternatives to payline slots have come out in recent years. These games use a different format than simply having wins occur in lines.
Megaways is the most popular alternative format to payline slot machines today. These types of games are being rolled out on a regular basis.
I’m going to cover why Megaways slots are so popular and if they’ll soon replace payline games as the dominant type of slot.
What Is a Megaways Slot?
A normal slot machine features a set number of symbols/spaces in each reel. For example, a five-reel game with three rows (i.e. 5×3 grid) will never offer more than three spaces per reel.
Megaways slot machines differ by featuring reels that hold varying amounts of symbols. For instance, a six-reel reel game could have symbols that hold anywhere from two to seven icons.
The changing reels mean that the number of winning possibilities is never consistent from one round to the next. You may have just 64 ways to win in one spin and 117,649 ways the next.
These games offer a counter that shows how many ways you have in a given round. However, you can also figure out the number of winning possibilities by multiplying the spaces in each reel.
Here’s an example:
Reel 1 has two symbols
Reel 2 has three symbols
Reel 3 has four symbols
Reel 4 has six symbols
Reel 5 has seven symbols
Reel 6 has five symbols
2 x 3 x 4 x 6 x 7 x 5 = 5,040 ways
Other Potential Features
Megaways slots already differ from payline games through their format alone. However, they boast other features that spice up the action.
Many of these slot games offer cascading reels (a.k.a. rolling reels). Cascading reels cause paying symbols to disappear and allow symbols from above to drop into their places.
You keep forming more wins through this mechanism. Sometimes, consecutive payouts through rolling reels are the key to unlocking more ways.
These slots can also deliver other features, such as free spins, multipliers, and random wilds. None of these features are groundbreaking, but they add more excitement to what are already fun games.
Megaways Slot Machines Are Extremely Hot
Big Time Gaming (BTG) released their first Megaways slot called Dragon Born in 2016. This game introduced the casino gambling world to a truly unique format that offers changing reels and up to 117,649 ways.
Since then, BTG has continued producing their own Megaways slots and even licensing this engine to other developers. The licensing aspect has led to over a dozen other slots providers rolling out Megaways games.
The result is that these slot machines are entering gaming at a rapid pace. Developers still see lots of untapped potential in this niche.
Most providers are releasing six-reel games with either up to 15,625 ways or 117,649 ways. They also like to put their own stamp on the features and themes.
Megaways games show little sign of slowing down anytime soon. Most online gaming news revolves around these types of online slot machines, while the latest payline games take a backseat.
The Megaways engine has been running hot for the past couple of years. Therefore, it’s hard to say whether the current situation is more than just a trend.
Advantages That Megaways Offer Over Payline Slots
Developers keep producing Megaways games for a reason—players love them! Below, you can see the biggest reasons why gamblers are flocking to these slots.
More Ways to Win
Slots players were quite impressed when Microgaming launched the first 243 ways game in 2009. As the name implies, 243 ways provides 243 winning possibilities in any spin.
The gaming world was even more astounded by 720, 1,024, and 4,096 ways slots. But nothing would prepare anybody for what BTG would later release.
Many of BTG’s biggest hits offer up to 117,649 winning possibilities. This amount puts the aforementioned 243 ways to shame. It also far surpasses anything that payline slots can offer. Most traditional games only feature between 20 and 50 lines.
If you’ve been playing slots for any measurable amount of time, then you may be tired of seeing 5×3 and 6×3 grids. Megaways slot machines bring something new to the table in this regard.
While they offer six reels like some payline slots, they feature different reel sizes on each spin. This engine is quite unique to the static 5×3 and 6×3 grids that are all over the gaming world.
Certain Megaways games also feature interesting setups that include the following:
Reels 1 and 6 offer up to seven symbols.
Reels 2 through 5 hold up to six symbols.
A special 1×4 row sits above reels 2 through 5.
This special row sees symbols enter the grid sideways, rather than vertically.
The possibilities with Megaways slot machines feel endless. That said, we should see this format continue evolving to offer more unique setups.
You know how many winning possibilities to look forward to with the vast majority of slot machines.
A five-reel, 25-line slot will always give you 25 ways to win (unless it has adjustable lines).
A Megaways slot machine creates more uncertainty in this regard. You have no idea how many ways you’ll have due to the varying reels.
Assuming you like the random nature and mystery of slot machines, then you’ll especially appreciate what Megaways offer.
Can Anything Stop Megaways Slots?
At the moment, the Megaways format seems unstoppable. Not only is BTG producing these games, but they’re also licensing this invention out to other providers.
Megaways is just now covering some of the most common themes in slots, such as Christmas, pirates, and treasure hunting. That said, these games still have a ways to go before they become totally common.
On the other hand, more and more Megaways slot machines are being produced every month. Once quite unique, this engine has been farmed out to other developers.
As a result, many providers are rolling out these types of slots. This trend is what caused me to question if Megaways will eventually replace paylines.
Of course, the slots world has been evolving for years. Megaways may seem hot now, but they might not be on top of the industry in five years.
Furthermore, developers may eventually grow tired of paying licensing fees to another provider. They might just jump on the next big (free) trend to avoid these extra expenses.
Will Payline Slot Machines Remain Popular?
Real money payline slots haven’t lost their luster just yet. As mentioned earlier, plenty of new payline slots are being produced on a regular basis.
Line-based slot machines may not be trendy right now. But they present a solid format that has withstood the test of time.
Of course, line-based slots must also stay ahead of the curve with interesting features, engaging themes, and high-quality graphics.
Megaways slot machines may be the hottest thing right now. However, line-based slots will likely continue entertaining players too.
A Megaways slot offers an interesting blend of features, varying reels, and numerous winning possibilities. This blend has equaled a recipe for success thus far.
BTG is not only producing beloved Megaways games itself but also licensing the engine to many other developers. The licensing deals are increasing the popularity of Megaways slots exponentially.
Several aspects are drawing players to these games. Megaways offer more winning combinations, a unique setup, and uncertainty with each spin.
However, these slot machines aren’t entirely perfect. They’re being overproduced in recent months, which could lead to burnout among players. Furthermore, other developers may eventually get tired of licensing Megaways slot machines.
Of course, payline slots aren’t perfect either. They feature static reels and don’t offer as many win lines as Megaways.
Nevertheless, payline slot machines have been an institution in land-based and online casinos for years. They’re not trendy, but they’re proven. I’ll have to see Megaways slots keep up this accelerated popularity for a few more years before I believe that they’ll truly surpass payline slot machines in adoption.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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