Each time players assume software suppliers have pushed the concept of slot play as far as it could possibly go, innovation, creative thinking, and technology step in to prove them wrong. The evolution of slots over the past century is truly astounding.
They have gone from simple, mechanically operated machines with three reels, a limited number of symbols, and a solitary payline to advanced online games with sophisticated animations, hundreds of ways to win, progressive jackpots, and a plethora of lucrative features.
But still, the evolution of the one-armed bandits continues as software suppliers are always looking for new ways to go beyond the boundaries of how traditional slots play. The Megaways pay structure ranks among the most interesting improvements reel spinners have seen in recent years.
First introduced by the developers at Big Time Gaming, Megaways slots have taken the online gambling community by storm. In games with this structure, the number of symbols per reel changes on each spin, giving players thousands of ways to win. This piqued the interest of rival software companies and Big Time Gaming soon began to license its trademark Megaways format to other providers like Blueprint and Red Tiger Gaming.
Big Time Gaming, the Mastermind Behind the Megaways Format
1First Megaways Slot
The Megaways pay structure was pioneered by the Australian software studio Big Time Gaming, which currently offers about a dozen slots of this type. Released in 2015, Dragon Born was the first game to use the Megaways format.
Soon it was followed by other iconic Megaways releases like White Rabbit, Extra Chilli, Queen of Riches, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The studio’s 2016 release Bonanza is singularly its biggest success to this date having been voted Game of the Year by Casinomeister in 2017.
2About Big Time Gaming
Big Time Gaming is a relatively young company. It was founded back in 2011 by a small group of Australian gaming experts whose sole purpose was to take online gambling to a whole new level. The company has its headquarters in Sydney and this is where all Megaways slots are birthed.
Big Time Gaming is driven by people with extensive expertise in the field of gambling. The experience of its main founder and Chief Executive Nik Robinson extends as far back as 1996 when he established New Tech Media, which became Openbet after merging with Orbis.
The company’s Chief Technology Officer, Huw McIntosh, has equally an impressive experience. He spent over ten years working at both Openbet and New Tech Media. Ian Schmidt, the brand’s Creative Director, worked for Rockstar Games (the studio behind popular video games like Grand Theft Auto) before he was recruited by Big Time Gaming.
3Big Time Gaming's Partners
With one such impressive line-up, it is no surprise Big Time Gaming succeeded in carving a niche for itself in just a few short years. This was achieved through collaboration with some of the largest operators in the online gambling industry.
A partnership with Core Gaming allowed the Australian game makers to adapt their innovative slots for play on the go. Another deal with Microgaming’s Quickfire enabled Big Time Gaming to reach a wider audience of players.
Today, Big Time Gaming works with some of the biggest gambling brands in the world, including LeoVegas, Betfair, Unibet, Paddy Power, Mr Green, Stan James, and William Hill. Some operators like Ladbrokes have even added dedicated tabs exclusively for the Megaways slots, which only goes to show how huge this new format is.
4Big Time Gaming's Licenses
Big Time Gaming holds licenses from major regulatory bodies the likes of the Malta Gaming Authority, the Gambling Commissions of Gibraltar and the UK, and the Alderney Gambling Control Commission. Its Megaways slots have reached players in New Jersey via a partnership with Scientific Games and the Golden Nugget Casino.
The Pay Mechanics in the Megaways Format
Reels and Symbols in Megaways Slots
Winning Conditions in Megaways Slots
Slots that use the Megaways format are unique in that they feature reels with a different number of symbols on each spin, usually up to seven or eight. Some games like White Rabbit have extended reels where you can have up to twelve symbols per reel on each round.
This significantly increases the number of winning ways, which changes each time you click the spin button. In White Rabbit, for example, you can have up to 248,832 ways to win, a mind-blowing number indeed.
Megaways slots typically play on six reels but the number of symbols on each reel is randomly selected by the games’ software. The number of ways to win also varies, depending on how many symbols land on the reels at any given point. The symbols are of a different height so that a spin can produce 2 symbols on reel 1, 4 symbols on reel 2, 6 symbols on reel 3, and so on.
For example, if you have seven symbols on each of the six reels, you can calculate the number of winning ways by raising seven to the sixth power like so 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 = 117,649. Different Megaways games have different winning potential. Holy Diver, for instance, gives you as many as 586,971 ways to win, provided that you manage to trigger the bonus game.View more...
The Horizontal Reel and Other Cool Features in Megaways Slots
Some games from the Megaways series, like Extra Chilli and Bonanza, use an additional reel that is positioned either on top of the main reel grid or underneath it. The interesting thing here is that this reel does not spin vertically like the rest.
Instead, the symbols it contains move horizontally, to the side. This reel is special because it introduces more symbols to the games, further increasing their winning potential. However, it is shorter because it covers only reels 2 through 5 with extra symbols. Here are several other mention-worthy features you will find in games that use the Megaways format.
The Extending Reels allow more symbols to be added during special features to further boost the number of ways to win.
Win Reactions work similarly to the cascading reels in some NetEnt slots. All symbols that are part of a winning combination explode and give way to new symbols that fall from above on the reels.
Unlimited Win Multipliers
Unlimited Win Multipliers usually occur during the rounds of free spins in some Megaways slots. The multiplier starts at a value of 1x and increases by one unit after every winning spin. It is reset whenever a losing spin breaks the chain of reactions (as consecutive wins are referred to in these slots).
Full Reel Wilds
Full Reel Wilds can be very lucrative because they can occupy up to seven reel grids and substitute for all other symbols bar the scatter. In essence, these are similar to stacked wilds. In Megaways slots, some full reel wilds multiply the wins they help create up to 7x.
Free Spins Gamble
Free Spins Gamble gets activated after players trigger the free spins feature in slots like Extra Chilli. A Gamble Wheel appears on the screen and you need to spin it for the chance to earn more free spins.
The player can collect the free spins they were initially awarded or spin the wheel. A successful gamble spin awards four additional free rounds. If the wheel produces zero free spins, the feature is terminated.
The Feature Drop enables players to buy their way into the bonus features of some Megaways slots. The price is proportionate to your stake per spin and is displayed above the Feature Drop button. There are two ways to activate the Feature Drop.
First, you can do it in the standard fashion where you simply purchase your free spins at the cost of 100x your base stake. If you spend $2 per spin, you will have to pay $200 for the Feature Drop. The software would deduct this sum from your balance, respin the reels, and the scatters would land to activate your free spins.
The second way is to collect the special coins that hit the reels at random during the base game. These coins are of different value and would deduct different cash amounts from your Feature Drop price.
The free spins commence automatically when you collect enough special coins to reduce the price to zero. Of course, you can also purchase the bonus whenever you collect enough coins to reduce the price to an amount you feel comfortable with.
Megaways Slots Evolved from the All Ways Pay Structure
1All Ways Slots
While highly innovative because of the unconventional features and gameplay, Megaways games are not the only type of slots to use this pay structure. All Ways slots, which emerged a decade or so ago, are the prototype of the format.
Until then, most reel-based games did not stray dramatically from the conventional payline structure. Video slots only differed in terms of payline number. Some slots paid on 25 win lines, others had 40 and so on. Most paid when the symbols landed from left to right on the reels. Then Both Ways Pay slots came where wins were awarded for matches created on either side of the reels, left or right.
2243 Ways to Win Slots
The next logical step for software developers was to get rid of the paylines altogether. This is how 243 Ways to Win slot were created. They use a standard grid with five reels and three symbols per reel.
This 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 structure allows for 243 possible winning combinations on each spin. Players no longer need to line up symbols in concrete patterns. Instead, the games pay on condition the matches occur on adjacent reels from left to right.
3720+ Ways to Win Slots
Again, all symbols act as scatters allowing for as many as 720 ways to win. The combinations paid in both directions, from left to right and from right to left. Software developers continued to experiment with the games’ pay structure, adding more reels and rows to boost the number of possible winning ways per spin.
To calculate the wins per round, you simply must multiply the number of visible symbols on each of the reels. In slots like IGT’s Crown of Egypt, you have four symbols on each of the five reels, so the number of winning ways is equal to 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4, or 1,024. Red Tiger Gaming’s 2019 release Ninja Ways further boosts players’ winning opportunities to 4,096, with its six reels with four symbols on each one.
Other Software Suppliers to Use the Megaways Format
Big Time Gaming Pioneered this format so it makes sense theirs is one of the largest selections of Megaways titles by far. However, the new pay structure became such a huge success among members of the reel spinning community that several other leading software suppliers have also started to develop Megaways slots.
To do so, they must first acquire a license from Big Time Gaming to use their trademark structure. Blueprint Gaming was among the first studios to obtain a license in April 2018, followed by the likes of NextGen, Red Tiger and Relax Gaming.
Relax Gaming has released a select few Megaways slots but each one is worth giving a whirl. The company commenced its operations back in 2010, in Estonia’s capital Tallinn but suffered a slow rise to prominence.
Relax Gaming has obtained licenses from Alderney, the UK, and Malta. It released its first Megaways slot in April 2019. We recommend you try their Temple Tumble, Hypernova, and Machina games, all of which use the innovative format.
NextGen is one of the oldest slot suppliers, with a history that dates back to 1999 when players were starting to get into their stride with online gambling. Until 2014, most of the slots released by NextGen were rather similar in terms of feel and features, with most of them using five reels with 25 paylines.
However, the emergence of new software studios in recent years forced NextGen to switch to a more creative approach toward game design. The year 2019 was a turning point for NextGen as this is when the company leased the Megaways structure from Big Time Gaming. You can have a crack at NextGen’s Medusa slot, which offers you an RTP of 97.63% and 117,649 ways to win.
Red Tiger Gaming
Red Tiger Gaming is one of the younger software studios having arrived on the online gambling scene in 2014. The company specializes exclusively in the development of slot products and works with gaming operators across the Asian and European markets under licenses from Malta and the UK.
Red Tiger joined the constantly growing family of Big Time Gaming licensees in 2018. The company’s first slot to utilize the Megaways format is Mystery Reels. It offers a wealth of cool features including 117,649 ways to win, a flat jackpot of 10,000x your bet, mystery symbols, and 8 free spins with the option to gamble for more.
Blueprint Gaming started out from Georgia, USA, back in 2001, when it manufactured video slot machines for pubs and landbased casinos. As gaming technologies continued to evolve over the following years, Blueprint switched its focus to the online gambling market, bringing in slots with signature appearance and features.
The year 2008 saw German giant the Gauselmann Group purchasing a 50% stake in the company, which helped Blueprint Gaming extend its presence to the other side of the pond. Blueprint was the first software company to lease the Megaways structure from Big Time Gaming.
This explains why it boasts one of the richest selections of Megaways slots in the industry, including games like Diamond Mine, Valetta, Tiki Treasures, Wolf Legend, and Legacy of Ra.
Are Megaways Slots a Good Bet?
Megaways slots have huge winning potential but you better approach them with some caution, especially if you are playing with a limited budget. Games with this structure tend to have higher volatility.
2Long Losing Streaks
Megaways slots tend to award large wins, especially those like Bonanza that use cascading symbols with multipliers. However, winning combinations do not come all that often. You can experience long dry spells until you hit a spin that produces a large cash prize.
3Try Them in Demo Mode
Many different games use this new structure so we cannot generalize where volatility is concerned. The wisest thing to do would be to try the Megaways slots you are interested in in demo mode to see how they play and get a feel about their volatility level.
4Megaways Slots With Medium Level of Volatility
Below are three Megaways games that offer a medium level of volatility.
|Game Title||RTP||Ways to Win||Jackpot||Features|
|Valetta (Blueprint Gaming)||96.45%||15,625 ways||250,000 coins||Feature Buy, up to 20 Free Spins, Spinning Streaks|
|Return of Kong (Blueprint Gaming)||96.03%||117,649 ways||250,000 coins||Bonus Bet Buy, 12 Free Spins, Cascading Reels|
|Flower Fortune (Fantasma Games)||96.00%||531,411 ways||250,000 coins||Avalanche, Expanding Wilds, Pick Me Bonus|