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Pokies, being the highest demanded of all casino games, benefit immensely from the golden age of technology we are currently living in. Every new year spells new trends and building on old ones in the slots industry. While the games maintain most elements of their predecessors, like reels, paying symbols, and straightforward gameplay, others are lightyears ahead of the liberty machines featured in gaming saloons in the nineteenth century.

Australian slot enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to enjoying in 2021 and onward. Some of these trends have already gained traction and continue peaking in popularity.

More megaways

The Australian game studio Big Time Gaming is behind the smash hit Megaways engine sweeping through the online slot community like wildfire. The gameplay mechanic modifies win ways, which mostly went up to about 10,000 previously. Megaways drive up this number to a whopping 117,649 ways to win. In some rare cases, the win ways go up to an unbelievable 248,832. The engine often works on six-reel grids. This high number of win ways is achieved by revealing between two and seven characters on each column randomly.

The Megaways trend began to gain traction in 2020. Big Time Gaming offered the rights to other developers to make new pokies with the engine and some recreated iconic titles with it. The feature is far from being exhausted, with more releases scheduled for 2021. Some Megaways pokies already accessible in Australian casinos include;

  • Wild Hammer Megaways
  • Big Bucks Bandits Megaways
  • Royale with Cheese Megaways
  • Aztec Gold Megaways
  • Hot Spin Megaways
  • Bonanza Megaways
  • The Dog House Megaways
  • Majestic Megaways
  • Legend of Cleopatra Megaways
  • Extra Chilli Megaways
  • Big Buffalo Megaways

Infinity Reels

Ordinarily, pokie machines end gameplay with the same playing grid they started with. For instance, a five-reel slot remains a five-reel slot despite the events unfolding within them. While some sets grow their grids vertically, none had explored the same feature horizontally until Reel Play. This software developer aims to change the game with the Infinity Reels feature, an innovation of the decade.

The Infinity Reels mechanic allows the grid to grow horizontally to create longer winning combinations. Usually, slots with this engine start gameplay with a 3×4 playtable. Whenever a winning combination is made, an extra reel appears to the right. The grid continues to grow until no more payout combos appear, and the game resets to the original 3×4 format. The reels are added infinitely, hence the name Infinity Reels. The extra reels added by this mechanic are usually accompanied by multiplier wins that progress as more columns appear on the playtable.

El Dorado Infinity Reels by Reel Play was the first set to showcase this engine, and more than ten others have been released since. Tiki Infinity Reels Megaways slot takes it a step further by blending this mechanic with Megaways. Other sets featuring the modifier include;

  • Thor Infinity Reels
  • Martian Miner Infinity Reels
  • Gargoyle Infinity Reels
  • Royal Dragon Infinity Reels
  • Bali Vacation Infinity Reels
  • Odin Infinity Reels Megaways
  • Crystal Wolf Infinity Reels
  • Giza Infinity Reels
  • Secrets of Cleopatra Infinity Reels
  • Zodiac Infinity Reels
  • Dragon’s Fire Infinity Reels
  • Jack Frost’s Infinity Reels

Hold and Spin Feature

The Hold and Spin bonus take on different names depending on the pokie machine: Hold and Respin, Hold and Win, Hold the Jackpot, Money Respin, etc. Usually, this bonus triggers when six or more special icons land anywhere on the grid and award three respins. Regular characters are removed, and the reels start spinning with the bonus symbols held in place. Any new scatters appearing reset the number of respins to three, and they continue playing for as long as additional ones come into view. The feature ends when the respins run out, or the grid is filled with the bonus symbols.

During the Hold and Spin bonus, each feature item appears with a random value plastered on it. In the end, the displayed values are added and awarded. Most pokies with this feature also include three or four fixed jackpots. The smaller pots can appear on the scatters like the regular credit prizes. However, the largest one activates when all the grid spots are filled with characters. Popular games that avail this feature include;

  • Wolf Gold
  • Super Sunny Fruits
  • Buffalo Power
  • Hit the Gold!
  • Prosperity Pearls
  • Rich Diamonds
  • Sun of Fortune
  • 15 Dragon Pearls
  • Wolf Saga
  • Thunder of Olympus
  • Wolf Power

Cleaner Aesthetics

Since slot gameplay and winnings are mostly the same across different titles, many punters use visual quality as a significant factor to pick out ideal titles. Ever since slot themes emerged, online gaming software providers have continuously pushed the boundaries of action and aesthetics to catch gamblers’ attention.

In 2021, pokie developers have churned out even more stimulating experiences with sleek 3D designs, smooth animations, and immersive soundtracks that paint a clear picture of the theme. In some pokies, the theme sips into the bonus features, allowing the story to build up beyond what is presented in the base game. Here are honorary mentions that set the aesthetic bar high:

  • Aloha King Elvis
  • Elvis Frog in Vegas
  • Cash Noire
  • Yeti: Battle of the Greenhat Peak
  • Fruit Zen
  • Money Train 2
  • Barbarian Fury
  • Esqueleto Explosivo
  • Punk Rocker
  • Fire Lightning

High Volatility

These days, high variance slots are the “it” thing, even though they are not constantly handing out winnings left and right. They have some key selling points, the main one being a chance at massive wins. While high volatility sets can be brutal and serve some long-losing bouts, they pack some serious paying power.

Some of these games offer wins as high as 50,000x the placed stakes, which is much more than most low and medium volatility titles can boast. These games sound like a great combination of action and massive payouts, but low rollers should be wary of engaging them.

The bottom line

Mainstream VR and AR, crypto gambling, Interactive Gaming Systems, and Safety Data Systems are other slot trends available to explore in 2021. These features and those mentioned apply to mobile and PC pokies.