One of the major advantages of slots is that the sheer variety of designs, themes, structures and payouts on offer. From classic fruit machines to 5-reel and Progressive Jackpot games, there is something for everyone.
While the actual game design has not changed much over the years, one new development is the removal of paylines in favour of Ways To Win. So, what exactly are these multi-way games, and how do they differ from the original machines? Let’s find out!
Traditional land-based machines and a vast number of online slots games use paylines. These are lines that run horizontally, vertically and diagonally across the screen to link symbols. In order for a payout to occur, the same type of symbol must fall across one of the active paylines. The Liberty Bell, the first machine ever made had a single payline that ran in the centre of the reels. Only if the right symbol landed on all three spots in the centre would a payout be initiated.
As slots evolved, so did the number of paylines. Game developers soon discovered that they could provide players with a greater chance of winning by adding in additional lines. This soon led to the development of 10, 15, 20 and 50-line machines. In such cases, they appeared horizontally, vertically and diagonally. The concept was simple, the more lines in play, the more potential payouts.
The problem with multi-line machines is that the extra options can only be activated with a coin wager. So, a 50-line machine would require a wager of 50 coins per spin. If the coin value is set to high, you can burn through your bankroll rather quickly. This is probably why developers stopped increasing them when they reached 100!
The next generation of online slots came out with the Ways To Win setup. At a basic level, this format is exactly the same, except that you do not need to pay per line for each spin. The first setup included 243 Ways To win. At first glance, this may seem like an odd number. The number originates from the total number of possible combinations on the reels. In this case, the machine has 5 reels with 3 symbols per reel. If we multiply 3x3x3x3x3 we get 243.
One of the main benefits of playing multi-way slots is that every single area of the reels is essentially a functional payline. As long as the same symbol appears on each 1 of the 5 reels, a payout will occur. Since it would be incredibly expensive to pay per line, developers decided to make a single stake for each spin. If the stake is increases, the payout amount increases accordingly.
Multiway slots work to the benefit of the player. Since they cover every single section of the reels, ever spin has a much higher chance of hitting a winning combination. Having a single stake for each spin also means that you can adjust your bankroll to allow for a longer session while still having every single line activated.
After the arrival of 243-way machines, we started seeing games with 720 Ways To Win. While these have fallen out of fashion, they created a whole new set of popular titles. In this case, there are a total of five reels with two of the reels having 3 symbols, 2 having 4 symbols and one having 5symbols. 3x3x4x4x5 = 724.
Today, many online slots include as many as 1024 Ways To Win. This simply means that the game features 5-reels with a total of 4 symbols on each reel. We have even seen the arrival of 3125 Ways machines, which also features 5-reels but includes 5 symbols per reel.
Whichever way you look at it, if you get spinning you could get winning- no matter what format you prefer!