Why Does My Bonus Pay Nothing?

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Sad Brian Christopher shows a small ticket

Bonuses where you yield no wins can be incredibly frustrating. A player wants to know why this is even allowed:

When a bonus is triggered, why does the machine sometimes give you nothing? Example you hit 10 free games and you won nothing during the free games.

Michael W.

Game companies have been wrestling with this question in some ways for a long time. Sometimes games don’t give you any pays for triggering the bonus, whereas others sometimes do, and the ones that do treat that as effectively a guaranteed win of something for triggering the bonus.

Over a decade ago WMS (which was later acquired by Light & Wonder) introduced the Bonus Guarantee – if the bonus didn’t pay at least 10x (or occasionally 5x) your bet, it would augment the prize to that level automatically.

It was reacting to the exact problem you raise – players hate zero bonuses! – but it turns out players hated the Bonus Guarantee too. Why? It popped up a MASSIVE logo, rang a loud bell, and basically shoved in the face of the player that their bonus sucked.

They didn’t give up on the idea, they simply refined it – over time the logo shrank to a very small size, the bell was done away with, and eventually it was just simply folded into the pay count-up quietly to still assure a player some sort of payout if the bonus failed to deliver.

It’s not as common as it was at the time it was introduced, but on some of the games still tied to that old brand, like Wonka and Wizard of Oz, you’ll sometimes see this still occurring on things like the Oompa Loompa feature.

But if anything these zero bonuses should be a bit of proof against many bonuses being predetermined – it shows that the fact that 6-10 spins against the RNG doesn’t necessarily mean you get a winning spin in that small spin count, something that a predetermined bonus setup could deftly avoid. But as game get more volatile, it’s a risk of a bonus failing to deliver because line hits are fewer and farther between than before.

Have a question? Submit yours here!

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2 Replies to “Why Does My Bonus Pay Nothing?”

  • Mary says:

    Please tell us how you know when a “Major” is maxed out and how much a game can pay out i.e. 100x the bet or “ball”. Does the company explain this in the game rules?

    • FlipTheSwitch.com says:

      Hi Mary – you are correct that the pay table for each game will confirm how much can appear on a ball, and this can vary from game to game so there’s no one right answer.

      For the maxed out major, we wrote about this here.

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