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Slot machines can be seen by some as old-fashioned – the game was invented in 1891 (that’s not a typo) and the basics of the game haven’t really changed since. But now, in an attempt to attract millennials, the slot industry has shifted directions and is gearing-up to introduce skill-based slots.

The Popularity of Randomness

Until now slot players had no real control over the outcome of the game and the money they might win or lose. Slot machines, both land-based and online, are equipped with RNGs (Random Number Generators) that, as the name suggests, make sure the reels stop randomly. All players can do is hit the Spin button and cross their fingers.

But even with the seeming randomness of slots and the lack of skill needed to play, slot machines are the most popular games in any casino in the world; they take up over 80% of floor space in casinos. And in online casinos video slot games greatly outnumber poker, blackjack and roulette games.

So if the slot industry isn’t broken, why change things now?

The Slot Industry Wants to Keep On Winning

The slot machine is one of the most successful products ever to be created. It has survived, and thrived, an entire century with its core concept still intact. That’s an amazing feat if you think about it – people today are enjoying the same basic game that people enjoyed over a hundred years ago.

Now though, with the proliferation of the Internet, and the rise of computer and mobile gaming, the younger generation – that’s you millennial – have begun to pass up the slot machine in favor of more skill-based games. The idea of having no control over the game that is unfolding on the screen isn’t very appealing for a generation that grew up with Xboxes and Nintendo 64’s.

And the slot industry took notice of that.

Eighty million millennials with hundreds of billions of dollars in buying power are entering their peak earning and spending years. And everyone – including online casinos – want a piece of that market.

Raising the Bar with Skill

So now that we know that skill-based slots are on their way, what will the game look like? The idea is not to completely lose the chance factor that has made slots so popular to begin with. Rather, there will be a combination of luck and skill. So the basic interface of spinning reels will remain, with some modifications already present in some video-slots, like ‘dropping-bricks’ or ‘sliding-cubes.’

But the main changes will occur in the bonus round.

Bonus rounds are typically a player’s opportunity to win real money in a slot game, or at least credits that can be used later in the game to increase a player’s chance of winning. They present different interfaces, but also luck-based ones. And this is exactly where the slot industry is planning its attack.

Imagine playing Pac Man or Guitar Hero or Angry Birds in the bonus round to win betting credits between the regular spinning-reels plays.

Blue Crystal Labs, a young startup headed by a former Zynga executive (creators of the Facebook hit Farmville) just recently unveiled Simon Slot – based on the four colored memory game that many millennials grew up playing.  While the reels spin, certain boxes light up and once the reel stops the player must tap the symbols on the screen in the order of how they lit up.

NanoTech is working on two additional skill-based games: a pinball-like slot titled Vegas 2047 where players need to display real pinball skills in order to win, and CasinoKat, a maze runner slot game.

The Future of Slot Machines

This is just the beginning of where slots are headed.

One of the most highly anticipated and exciting developments in the gaming industry – virtual reality – is something that key players in the slot machine industry are paying close attention to. With VR, the possibilities for creating eye-popping, mind-blowing slot games are endless.

The future of online slot games is one that will probably look and feel completely different to the classic slots that have dominated for the past one hundred years. The classic spin and pray slots will probably never fall out of favor, but the new crop of millennial-geared slot games will surely change the entire industry, across the board.