Perceived Persistence vs. True Persistence: What’s the Difference?

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Triple pot slot machine game

The term “persistence” has become a regular term used by slot makers in recent years, and a player asked for a deeper dive into the topic:

I know you’ve talked about perceived persistence. Maybe a bit on the difference between true and perceived persistence would be educational?


Thanks Barry for the suggestion, and happy to oblige!

First, let’s define persistence on a slot machine. Persistence is an element that remains around beyond a given spin, and often beyond even a single player. They come in two forms: True Persistence and Perceived Persistence.

True Persistence are elements that have some sort of value. This can be simple things like increments on a progressive, which survive until the progressive is won. Additional value can come out of “Must Hit By” progressives, which offer additional information on when they must be awarded by.

Other examples of True Persistence are: 

  • The borders collected on Scarab, which are transformed into wilds on the 10th spin
  • The progressive free games counters on a variety of games on casino floors today
  • The progressive (and “Must Hit By”) wild counters on games like Regal Riches and Prosperity Pearl

The accumulation of these values ultimately have value to a player, and so these True Persistence elements are good to get to know and even watch for.

By comparison, Perceived Persistence is the description of an element that looks like it’s accumulating something but isn’t actually offering a player anything. The most prominent of these are the pots, bags, etc., that fill as a player plays the game, but can go off randomly. 

In these cases, the animations are more of an indication of how long it’s been since a bonus, and have no indication of when a bonus will actually occur next.

The reality is a lot of players see Perceived Persistence and believe it’s True Persistence. Manufacturers clarify the difference on the pay tables, but most players don’t take a moment to look and confirm, so pot chasing becomes a thing.

This is why it’s always helpful to take a moment to get to know the games – while it may not be the most fun part of playing slots, the games are getting sufficiently complex now that it helps to know what you’re playing towards.

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