In 2016 an independent online slots developer released a slot that would change the face of slots forever. The slot in question would go on to become the most spun online game of 2017, raising eyebrows and making every slot fan rush to their favourite online casino. Certainly here at Casino Kings we saw the game in question played more than any other, on desktop or mobile. That slot was Bonanza Megaways, and that studio was Big Time Gaming. Now, every slots studio wants a piece of the MegaWays pie, and with good reason. Slots players across the globe just love it.
From Regular Payline Slots To Megaways™
You would likely have to be an alien from a galaxy far, far away to have missed the growth of Megaways™. Or completely new to the slots game. Either way, it’s worth getting to grips with the mechanics of the Megaways™ game engine, and where it sits in relation to other slots’ pay structures.
In the beginning came regular paylines. Slots symbols award payouts for lining up in patterns on three or five reel slots. As technology improved, so did the number of paylines games offered. The downside with the payline system, however, is that you could have top paying symbols on all five reels but would only earn a payout if those symbols lined up in a payline pattern.
Then came the Ways to Win pay system, pioneered by Microgaming in classic slots like Thunderstruck II and Game of Thrones. The Ways to Win system did away with traditional paylines, instead awarding payouts for any symbols that landed on adjacent reels. New innovations came in the shape of offering increased Ways to Win, by expanding slots’ rows or reels to allow for additional ways to win. It was the Ways to Win system that paved the way for Bonanza Megaways and the Megaways™ game engine.
The Megaways™ System Explained
Big Time Gaming’s Bonanza Megaways slot is a six reel slot that features an active reel above the reels, with additional symbols and Wilds to complete winning combinations. This active reel expands the pay system. But rather than simply have a set number of symbols across the reels, the Megaways system uses a random reel modifier to deliver various symbol sizes on each unique spin. Smaller symbols result in more ways to win, with the six reels and top active reel providing up to 117,649 Ways to Win.
This unique take on modifying the reels proved an instant success with slots players. The opportunity to shoot for more ways to win offers instant appeal for obvious reasons, even though Megaways™ slots typically only feature one bonus round and require four Scatter symbols rather than the more common three to launch the bonus game. Megaways slots also feature Win Reactions, which “pop” winning symbols in their combinations to allow more symbols to take their place and create further winning combinations. These kinds of consecutive win features prove extremely popular with slots players, with other top slots like Gonzo’s Quest using similar systems to allow consecutive win streaks.
The Future Is Megaways™
The Megaways™ engine is, of course, not the only way forward for slots developers. Plenty of slots providers continue to innovate in numerous ways, many of which showcased at the ICE Expo in February this year. But just as major and indie developers plough on with their own creative slots ideas, such is the popularity of the Megaways™ engine that scores of studios have licensed its use from Big Time Gaming to enhance the appeal of their own slots releases.
Blueprint Gaming, famous both for its Jackpot King series of progressive slots and its love of innovative and multiple bonus features, licensed the Megaways™ engine on its Slots of Gold Megaways™ release. Meanwhile, SG Digital, a major player in the slots development world, licensed Megaways™ to update its classic Rainbow Riches title to Rainbow Riches Megaways™. Using the Megaways™ game engine for such a flagship update highlights just how important slots developers feel the game engine is. More importantly, it shows just how popular the innovation is with slots players.
Further Megaways™ releases are scheduled. NetEnt acquired Red Tiger in a £200million deal in September 2019, and that studio is set to release Gonzo’s Quest Megaways™ here at Casino Kings in July 2020 in what will be the fanfare release of the year. When NetEnt released Gonzo’s Quest in 2010 it became an instant hit, and still forms the basis of many welcome bonuses offered by online casinos to attract new players, such is its appeal. In a break from the Megaways™ tradition, Gonzo’s Quest Megaways™ won’t feature the active reel at the top of the reels. Instead it will boast six reels and seven rows, with various Inca heads returning to make up the game symbols. The win multiplier will also return, boosting every consecutive win by x2 – x5 during the base game and by x3 – x15 during the Free Spins bonus feature. Gonzo will once again return as a playful 3D sprite to accompany each spin, dancing and twirling to cheer each win.
Gonzo’s Quest Megaways™ is sure to be the first of many NetEnt slots to be given the Megaways™ treatment. Speculation has been rife among online slot players as to other NetEnt titles that could take a bow on the Megaways™ platform ever since Red Tiger’s announcement regarding the release of the Gonzo refresh. Fans of the original game have appealed for a sequel ever since the game’s initial release. Could we see, perhaps, a Starburst Megaways™ online slot? Or a Guns ‘N Roses Megaways™?
For its own part, Big Time Gaming is innovating the Megaways™ engine even further with its Megaclusters™ engine. The first ever Megaclusters™ game, Starclusters Megaclusters™, sees winning clusters explode and replaced with even smaller symbols, providing more combinations and more ways to win. Just as NetEnt pioneered the ClusterPays™ system with its release of Aloha! In 2016, Big Time Gaming looks set to take the innovation even further. The development is hyper mobile friendly so, as increasingly gamers turn to mobile slots games over desktop versions, the ClusterPays™ system is sure to be future proof.