While I’ve shared here my enjoyment of online real money gaming slots, there are aspects of the games that sometimes rub me the wrong way. I may be in the minority, as a player that has also had a hand in developing interfaces over the years, but sometimes I’m disappointed by the lack of polish in some of the games being made available to us as players.
Having previously shared 5 things that are great about online slots, I’m now going to cover 5 things that I believe the online slot makers sometimes get wrong.
1. Sounds That Shouldn’t Be There
There’s certain game design rules that tend to be followed by game makers for physical slots that some of the online slot makers haven’t quite nailed down yet. A great example of this is if a bonus symbol lands but it can’t contribute to triggering the bonus, it shouldn’t make a sound.
Take the game 88 Fortunes. If a gong lands on the third reel, but there’s no gong or wild (which matches with the gong) on reels 1 and 2, it doesn’t make a sound because you have to get the drums on the first three reels at minimum to get the bonus.
The physical version of this game follows these rules, but the online version makes the sound regardless of location. It’s frustrating because it implies something that’s not true, which is that you can get the bonus with symbols anywhere. It’s a simple rule that should be easily implemented, but the online developers cloning these games sometimes miss the mark.
2. Ugly Fonts
For whatever reason, some of the game makers aren’t putting the same care into their interfaces online as they are in physical casinos. Why are we seeing plain fonts that look so plain compared to all the work going on with the art elsewhere?
Here’s an example of an AGS game I recently reviewed for the site, and how they’re basically using Times New Roman to display the jackpots, balances and so forth. Does it communicate the information? Yes. Is it nice to look at? Not really.
A long time ago, I learned that fonts have an outsized impact on how polished things looked. As I leveraged better fonts for the work I was doing for web projects, I realized that my work just looked better overall as the fonts were able to elevate the work. Game makers could stand to learn from this too.
3. Spins That Are Too Long
The relentless race to make games spin faster in physical casinos to generate more spins per hour has been going on for decades, and it would make sense to logically see some of that in online casinos too. But occasionally, games simply go way off the reservation in this regard.
Fu Dao Le’s online version, for example, is basically unplayable to me because each spin takes more than 5 seconds to complete. The reels spin while music plays, and don’t come to a stop until the music is done. You can’t stop the spins to move them along. I’m not sure who signed off on this but it’s very frustrating for players like myself. I’m not one to want to speed through spins but this is just too long to get to the outcome.
Adjacent to this, and related, are games that refuse to let you speed up the count up of various line hits. It’s a standard feature on physical slots, and it’s odd that you can’t do a thing about it on many online games.
4. Attention to Detail
This is a more comprehensive problem in games I’ve looked at recently, but why do game makers have so much trouble lining up objects on the screen consistently?
One game I looked at couldn’t decide whether it was going to center or left align numbers. Another centered everything but every single number was off center compared to the graphical elements around it.
It just looked sloppy and rushed. But some of these games have been out awhile. I can understand why this may happen occasionally on physical slots – I’ve seen my share of glitches, but the process is time consuming and expensive to get game updates out (although it certainly happens when the game itself needs a fix).
I would hope it’s not as complex for online slots to push an update to resolve these issues, by comparison, and if not, it’s something that probably needs a look. But it’s the type of thing that should be caught before release as well.
5. Structural Game Changes That Aren’t Clear
There are times that for whatever reason games have to be changed for the online format. The most common of these is the replacement of progressives with flat jackpot prizes.
The pay tables on games with progressives that are the same for any bet level (think Lightning Link) will tell you your chances of winning a progressive increases proportionally with bet. But when the game shifts online and the flat prizes shift proportionally with bet, there’s nothing in the pay table to confirm that the chances of winning the prizes are the same at any bet level.
When the game’s format shifts in translation, I think it would be nice to have a bit more clarity there so players who are aiming to understand the differences have a more clear sign of what’s going on.
A lot of these games are developed by units within companies that have been developing slots for a long time. Perhaps the toolkits for developing online slots are not as robust yet as their physical slot counterparts.
That should be an area of opportunity for the game makers to cross-pollinate this knowledge and development of toolkits to ensure best practices are maintained across all divisions, both physical games and online. A bit of extra polish could go a long way into making games more fun to play.