With video slots evolving at a dramatic pace, game designers are constantly on the lookout for new ways to boost player interaction and push their creations to the forefront of online casinos’ lobbies. A new breed of slots emerged a couple of years ago where players are spared the hassles of spinning the reels again and again until they finally trigger the bonus feature.
Instead, the slots give them the option to purchase the feature for a set amount, proportionate to their stakes in the base game. This new idea was popularized by software studio Big Time Gaming a couple of years ago, which uses it in some of its best creations like Extra Chilli and White Rabbit. Other developers immediately noticed the concept’s potential and started to incorporate it into their latest slot releases. Now, let’s see how the feature-buy works and whether it is worth using or not.
The Feature Drop in Big Time Gaming Slots
The Feature Drop
Free Spins – to Gamble Them or Not?
November 2017 is an important date in the history of one-armed bandits as this is when Australian developer Big Time Gaming launched a game with an original feature that would change the face of video slots forever. The slot in question was White Rabbit from the Megaways series. It came with a new trademark functionality called the Feature Drop.
The new feature allows players to initiate the bonus, usually a round of free spins, without having to unlock it conventionally by landing a particular symbol combination in the base game. Instead, they can activate the free spins immediately and there are two ways to do it.
The first way is to simply purchase the bonus feature. The price for this “shortcut” is equal to 100x your base bet. If you wager $0.10 per spin, the feature will cost you $10 but if you wager $2, the cost escalates to $200 and so on. The cost of the feature purchase is displayed under the reels next to your stake and changes each time you adjust the size of your base bet.
Once you purchase your free spins, the software automatically deducts the respective amount from your credit balance and respins the reels. The scattered symbols immediately align in position and activate the bonus feature.
In White Rabbit, in particular, you can earn extra free spins by landing the special cupcake symbol during the feature. After you go through all free spins, you return to the base game and the software adds your winnings to your current balance.
The developers have added an interesting twist to increase the interactivity of Feature Drop games. There are special BGT golden coin symbols of different sizes and shapes but these do not form winning combinations. Instead, when the coins appear on the reels, they reduce the price of the Feature Drop purchase by specific amounts – 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 1 or 2.
Note that it is possible to reduce the price of the free spins to zero provided that you collect enough BGT coins. When this happens, the bonus rounds commence automatically on the next spin. Naturally, you can also buy the feature whenever you collect enough coins to reduce the price to an amount you feel comfortable with. Unfortunately, these special coin symbols do not land on the reels very often.View more...
Other Software Companies to Utilize the Feature-Buy Option
After Big Time Gaming pioneered the Megaways pay structure with the Feature Drop, it became an overnight success and the studio started to lease it to other developers. However, most of them do not offer players the option to reduce the cost of the bonus features by collecting items as is the case with the Feature Drop in Big Time Gaming's slots.
Instead, the free spins and bonus games can be purchased at a set amount, which depends on which game you choose to play. Below you can find six of the best software studios to offer slots with the Feature Buy.
Betsoft is one of the leading providers of 3D slots in the industry and utilizes a proprietary technology similar to the one used in animated movies. The developers initially built the games with the Flash technology until the studio transitioned to HTML5 in 2016.
Betsoft has acquired licenses from the regulators of Malta, Romania, and Italy. Its slots are available across more than 500 online casinos accepting customers from around the globe. Some of the most accredited clients of the studio include LeoVegas, Mr Green, Guts, and Rizk Casino. Below are our top 3 recommendations of Betsoft slots that offer the Feature Buy.
The Feature Drop in Betsoft Slots
Chilli Pop Slot
Yak Yeti and Roll Slot
The Golden Owl of Athena Slot
Chilli Pop is a 5-reel slot with a quirky, yet hot Mexican theme. The game pays in clusters whenever identical symbols land next to each other on the reels. When part of a winning combination, the symbols explode, making room for new icons to drop into their places. If you get tired of waiting for those free spins, you can buy 10 rounds at a price that ranges between $24.50 and $2,450.View more...
NextGen is not a newcomer to the online gambling world, being established in 1999. The company has created quite a sizeable catalog of slots over the last twenty years, although many of its earlier creations were quite similar in terms of gameplay and features.
However, the developer has adapted to the changes in the gambling industry and has started to release more original and creative slots in recent years to keep up with the competition. It has acquired permission from Big Time Gaming to use its Megaways structure and the result was the 2019 release we recommend below.
Medusa Megaways offers players an unconventional pay structure with 117,649 possible winning combinations. It plays on 6 reels plus one extra horizontal reel, has a high variance with an RTP of 97,63%, and supports a bet range of $0.25 to $20 per spin. The Buy Pass feature allows you to buy 10 free spins with win reactions and unlimited multipliers. The cost ranges between $25 to $2,500. If unsatisfied with your wins, you can replay the feature at no additional cost but this will annul your previous winnings.
Blueprint Gaming has been creating slot games for both online and brick-and-mortar casinos for many years now. The Atlanta-based company was acquired by the German gaming giant the Gauselmann Group in 2008. This acquisition allowed Blueprint to further expand its operations.
As of the present moment, Blueprint Gaming has more than 100,000 landbased slot machines in casinos across Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy. Its virtual creations are available at over 40 of the world’s most acclaimed gambling sites.
Blueprint was one of the first companies to receive a Big Time Gaming license, which explains why it boasts such a comprehensive selection of Megaways titles with the Feature Buy. Check out our top 3 favorites below.
The Feature Drop in Blueprint Gaming Slots
Buffalo Rising Slot
Vikings Unleashed Slot
In Buffalo Rising, players are digging for a treasure which can reach as much as 250,000 credits. This is the flat jackpot of this 7-reel game (one of the reels is horizontal), which uses the Megaways structure with 117,649 ways to win. The slot also supports cascading and mystery symbols that can lead to huge wins.
The Buffalo Bet enables you to purchase free spins with unlimited multipliers. The price range is lower at $10 to $1,000 per feature purchase. Once you trigger the feature, you get to pick from the following options – 15 free spins with multipliers beginning at 1x, 10 free spins (5x), 5 free spins (10x) or the mystery choice, which awards a random combination of free spins and multipliers.View more...
Yggdrasil’s slots have made a lot of noise among the members of the reel-spinning community and for a very good reason. They are innovative, highly interactive, and boast cinematic graphics that can compete only with those created by the developers of Betsoft.
This is anything but surprising considering Yggdrasil was founded by no other than the former CEO of NetEnt, Fredrik Elmqvist. Established in 2013, Yggdrasil relies on the HTML5 code for its sophisticated iSense technology. This allows for better animations, improved stop motions for the reels, and of course, playing on the go. We consider the two slots below the best Yggdrasil offerings with a Feature Buy option.
The Feature Drop in Yggdrasil Slots
Dark Vortex Slot
Champions of Rome Slot
Dark Vortex is an All Ways Pay game which means it lacks traditional paylines. It pays for matches occurring on adjacent reels, offering you 3,125 ways to win. It features wilds and rounds of free spins with enhancements. The maximum win Dark Vortex can produce is 73,180 credits, not bad at all.
You can pay your way into the free spins for a price that starts at $8. A short pick-me game commences where you need to select your number of free spins (the maximum is 20) and your wild stack number.View more...
Spinomenal is a young software provider as it was created only five years ago, in 2014. They grew exceptionally quickly and now boast a portfolio that spans over 100 HTML5 games. Spinomenal unveils to players one to two new releases per month, which makes it one of the fastest-growing slot development companies in the industry.
In addition to slots, they also develop scratchcards and various table games like roulette. Spinomenal’s games have reached over 2.5 million reel spinners on a global scale. Below are their best releases with a Feature Buy.
The Feature Drop in Spinomenal Slots
Nights of Egypt Slot
Colossus Fruits Slot
Nights of Egypt is 5-reel, 50-payline slot with stacked wilds, free spins, and interesting Feature Buy options. You can purchase 10 to 40 free spins for $9.50 to $9,500 (if anyone can stomach spending this much for a round of free spins).
The game will display a bonus wheel you must spin to collect a random number of free spins (10, 15, 20, 30 or 40). Another cool thing here is that you benefit from special double symbols for the duration of the feature.View more...
Pragmatic Play is a leading software studio with over 150 premium casino games up its sleeve, most of which are slots. The studio was founded a few years ago, in 2015. This makes it one of the fastest-growing suppliers in the gaming industry.
This is a multi-award-winning developer, which has collected prestigious accolades such as Software Rising Star at the 2017 EGR B2B Awards and Best Digital Company of the Year at the Malta iGaming Excellence Awards. Currently, their Sweet Bonanza slot is all the rage among reel spinners.
Sweet Bonanza is one of the most original slot releases we have seen in recent years. It plays on 6 reels, with 5 cascading symbols on each one. The symbols pay anywhere on the screen as long as you have at least 8 matches.
After a win, the payers disappear from the reels so that other symbols can tumble down in their places, potentially creating more winning combinations. Bets range from $0.20 to $125, with the option to wager up to 10 coins per spin.
You can purchase 10 free spins by paying 100x your total bet. Respectively, this will cost between $20 and $10,000. There is also a 25x bet multiplier that boosts your wager per spin and doubles the odds of winning the bonus rounds naturally by creating more scatters on the reels.
Should You Use the Feature Buy?
1It can get very expensive over time.
So should players make use of the Feature Buy option in these highly innovative slots? We are of the opinion that the feature should be utilized, but only occasionally.
You often fail to win amounts big enough to cover the initial cost of your feature purchase. It is not unheard of paying $20 to unlock the free spins and earning only $0.30 or $0.40 during the feature. This is exactly what happened to us on several occasions when we bought the bonus in Big Time Gaming’s White Rabbit. This can be attributed to the high volatility in the majority of games with this option.
This is not to say you cannot score massive wins with your purchase. One player managed to rake in over $5,400 in winnings with the Feature Drop in White Rabbit as you can see in the picture below.
3Stay within the limits of your budget
The bottom line is you can pay your way into your free spins every once in a while if you are itching to unlock the feature as long as you ensure you do not make a habit of this practice. Last but not least, it is important to remain within the limits of your budget. If you are playing with a session bankroll of $100 only, it would be reckless for you to purchase bonus features for $20 each, would it not?