If They Mean Nothing, Why Do Pots, Fireworks, Fish, Etc. Get Bigger?

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Brian Christopher in front of Big Fu Cash Bats with big bags

In a recent video where Brian was playing Goldfish Feeding Time, a game that has three growing goldfish in the model of many three pot/bag/etc. games, a viewer had a fair and simply enough question:

If it means nothing that the fish are getting bigger… Why do they get bigger? Is it just for show?

Lollie on YouTube

The reality is that these objects, which have been growing both in number and frequency on slots for awhile, work in getting players to want to keep playing. Some players chase these pots or bags or whatnot because they’re overflowing because they must be due to hit – but they’re not. The industry term for this is called “perceived persistence.” 

Actual persistence on a game means there is a progression towards something – a “must hit by” progressive, for instance, starts at a number, progresses forward, and by a certain point it has to be awarded. On games like Scarab, you collect scarabs for 10 spins, and on that 10th spin all the spaces that had achieved a Scarab turns wild – there’s an eventual payoff. 

Do you like to chase full pots or bags?

The saved progress if you cash out (whether the number of scarabs collected or where the “Must Hit By” progressive stands) is sometimes called “equity.” Some sort of value has built up and remains – persistence – that can have a positive effect on the person who eventually achieves the payoff.

By comparison, whether it be the early pot games like 88 Fortunes or Dancing Drums, or the more modern three-bag games like Fu Dai Lian Lian or Coin Trio, or of course the Goldfish Feeding Time games referenced at the beginning, these growing bags are not progressing to a bonus. 

They give a bit of an indication of how long it’s been since a bonus. But they do not mean a bonus is any closer than before – the odds on any spin are identical that a bonus can happen. This is why it’s called “perceived” persistence – some players perceive that something’s going to happen and keep playing it accordingly, but it doesn’t have any actual indication of anything.

It’s one of our less favorite aspects of slots – it drives some people to play because a bag or pot is overflowing, even when it means nothing. We’ve even educated casino hosts who mistakenly believed that it meant a bonus was due, going so far as to show the line in the payables confirming this to prove our point.

And that’s something you as a player can absolutely verify. If the pay tables say the size of the element has no impact on the odds of a bonus happening, that’s generally your indication this is perceived persistence. If there’s actual meters, language about must hit by elements, or indications that things have to resolve within a certain period of time, such as a number of spins, any of these can be indicative of growing value.

Even then, it doesn’t make a bonus more or less likely to hit – progressives don’t often have any requirement to hit in a certain window of time, and newer games can have things like progressive free games that can increment without a must hit by component (Buffalo Diamond being an example). 

But in those examples, you can be a smarter player by simply selecting the machine with the best numbers, whether higher progressive, free spin counts, etc., so if you do hit them, you’ll get the most value out of them for that hit.

The pots/bags/etc. showing perceived persistence have no actual value to offer – it’s just a visual to try to spur on additional game play. And based on the fact that these types of machines are growing in number and prominence, it works. The best we can do is try not to fall for it.

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