Since the first online casinos emerged in the mid-late nineties, online gambling has steadily grown into a multi-billion industry. In recent years the number of online slots available has more than doubled, increasing the competition between providers for the top spots in casino lobbies. With over 200 developers jostling for position and new releases each week, innovation on the reels is the driving force behind attracting new fans.
Such is the importance of dynamic reel concepts, Reel Play and NetEnt recently settled out of court over their Infinity Reels and InfinReels mechanics. With ReelPlay taking full advantage now, in a push that sees Infinity Reels featured in new releases each quarter.
New mechanics and the exposure they bring, coupled with player traction and potential licencing, is the holy grail in slot development. Every provider is searching for something that takes off in popularity and has players and casinos demanding more. Recent times have seen many exciting attempts hit the market, so let us take a closer look, starting with the dynamic reel concept that’s shown unparalleled success, Megaways.
- Megaways - Big Time Gaming
- Epic Ways - Zero Fox Entertainment
- Win Ways - Greentube (Novomatic)
- Bonus Ways – High Flyer Games
- xWays – Nolimit City
- Infinity Reels – ReelPlay
- InfiniReels – NetEnt
- Super Ways – Bad Dingo Gaming
- Connecta Ways - Boomerang Studios
- Dynamic Ways – Leander Games
- Nitro Reels - Elk Studios
- Payways – Play’n GO
- PopWins – Avatar UX/Yggdrasil Gaming
- Splitz – Yggdrasil Gaming
- Wonderways - Foxium
Megaways – Big Time Gaming
Dragon Born was the first release from BTG to feature the Megaways game engine in 2015. The following year Bonanza hit the scene and became an overnight sensation. In short, Megaways changed the face of online slots forever and features consistently in new releases.
The Megaways mechanic features dynamic reels with a random number of symbols on each spin, resulting in differing amounts of connecting ways. With each connection, the winning symbols disappear and new symbols tumble into the empty space, the process repeats until no win and the resulting total paid.
The rise in popularity has seen consistent releases from developers borrowing the mechanic under licence from BTG. Appearing in various formats up to a million ways.
Epic Ways – Zero Fox Entertainment
Oscar Wilde said ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ and Zero Fox Entertainment did precisely that with Majestic Dragons by copying the Megaways style. Their version, titled Epic Ways, presents between 324 to 117,649 ways to win randomly. They have also managed to licence the mechanic to some grey-market developers such as Fugaso.
Win Ways – Greentube (Novomatic)
Win Ways is another almost identical copy of Megaways. Strike It Gold Win Ways is a cascading video slot with a mining theme that randomly generates between 324 to 117,649 ways to win. You could be forgiven for thinking you were playing a new version of Bonanza. Win Ways is not currently licenced to others.
Bonus Ways – High Flyer Games
Recent release Dynamite Mine Explosion starts with 6×3 grid with 729 ways to pay. Dynamite symbols land on the reels and explode, adding more symbols vertically increasing the reel by up to 8 symbols. This can expand the grid up to 6×8 with a potential 262,144 ways. Winning symbols disappear and new ones cascade down in a similar fashion to Megaways. A bonus round sees more opportunities for explosive dynamite action, not yet seen licenced.
xWays – Nolimit City
NoLimit City are one developer that has seen an impressive rise to fame. Their x-series of mechanics includes xNudge and xWays plus more recently Infectious xWays and xBomb. Showing no signs of slowing, several releases feature the xWays mechanic with San Quentin being the most elaborate with up to 13 billion ways, in theory.
Titles with xWays come in different formats and use a mystery symbol. Random amounts of pay symbols reveal upon landing, up to a maximum of 25 on some releases, thus increasing the ways to win. The popularity has seen the engine licenced to a few studios such as Booming Games with Sphinx Fortune xNudge and Spearhead Studios with Book Of Spies Mission X.
Infinity Reels – ReelPlay
Maybe the most prevalent dynamic reel concept behind Megaways is Infinity Reels which graces more than a dozen releases. Usually starting with a 3×4 format, the reels will hold each win and add another reel for a possible link to the winning symbols. If the win is improved the process repeats infinitely.
This engine has partnered with Megaways in Odin Infinity Reels Megaways and Tiki Infinity Reels Megaways, giving even more variations due to the random number of symbols per reel with more added to each new reel spin. The popular mechanic has been licenced to a few smaller studios, including BB Games, PG Soft, GamesLab, Boomerang Studios, and some major developers, including Relax Gaming and Scientific Games.
InfiniReels – NetEnt
InfiniReels from Netent is the same as ReelPlay’s engine, hence why they intended to go the legal route but decided to settle out of court as it appeared that they didn’t have a case. InfiniReels has never been combined with Megaways and has no licencing but has been used on Red Tigers Dragons Fire InfiniReels as well as their own release, Gods Of Gold InfiniReels.
Super Ways – Bad Dingo Gaming
Super Ways is the dynamic reel concept by Bad Dingo Gaming featuring in Jaguar Super Ways powered by Yggdrasil Gaming and built with some help from ReelPlay.
Starting with a 5×3 grid and 243 ways, wins containing specially marked symbols trigger a large 3×3 symbol placed on top. Any part laying outside the current area will reveal more of the grid. More wins with special symbols can open the grid to 9×9, with a staggering 387 million ways to win. A fresh and impressive mechanic with no current licencing.
Connecta Ways – Boomerang Studios
Gems Of Egypt featuring Connecta Ways is another collaboration with ReelPlay. This time from Boomerang Studios powered by Relax Gaming. Curtain-style reel covers slide up and/or down in distinct patterns at the start of every spin.
Each reel will always be higher or lower, by one symbol, than the adjacent reel to the left. For example, if reel two has 3 symbols, then reel four will have either 2 or 4 symbols uncovered for the current round. While the first reel always has a minimum of three symbols active, all other reels range from 2 to 10, creating up to 961 ways to win on a full grid.
The exact positioning of the curtains is random for every reel; thus they are dynamic. Currently, the largest game window possible is 5-6-7-8-9-10 with 961 ConnectaWays. The mechanic is not currently licenced to others.
Dynamic Ways – Leander Games
Silk Road Riches, Wild West Zone and Gem Zone feature Dynamic Ways by Leander Games. Starting with a 5×5 format, each reel has a dynamic zone that moves and changes in height and position from spin to spin.
A trademarked mechanic yet to be licenced, with a potential for 3,125 ways increasing to 6×7 with up to 117,649 ways in the free spins. The height of the dynamic zones are 2 to 5 in the base game and from 4 to 7 symbols in the free spins. Only symbols landing inside are part of the game round. As the Dynamic Zones differ in height for every reel and on every spin, Dynamic Ways produces a virtually unlimited number of variations.
Nitro Reels – Elk Studios
Used on Nitropolis and Nitropolis 2. Elk Studios Nitro Reels cover two-symbols high when landing and feature a mini reel that spins to reveal a selected number of identical symbols. Each Nitro Reel can contain 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 symbols creating visually explosive dynamic spins.
Maximum ways seen to date are 85,155,840. Nitropolis 2 features a Nitro Boosting reel on top plus a both-ways pays feature that brings massive potential of up to 191,102,976 ways to pay. A fairly new trademarked mechanic seen on two releases from Elk Studios, with no current licencing.
Payways – Play’n GO
Perfect Gems, Frozen Gems and soon to be released Prism Of Gems all feature a similar set-up to Megaways using a fixed 6×3 main reel set and horizontal reel on top. Symbols on the main reels that match the selected ones from the top reel, split into two. This allows the game to go from a standard 243 Payways to a maximum of 7,776.
Adding this mechanic to a progressive free spins feature means players can achieve multiple splitting symbols and re-triggers for massive potential. Payways is not currently licenced for any other developers use.
PopWins – Avatar UX/Yggdrasil Gaming
PopWins is usually played with 5×3 with 243 both-ways pays. Landing a win ‘pops’ the symbols into two new symbols, creating the potential for more wins. Seen on PopRocks and TikiPops amongst others, PopWins can expand the rows from four to seven high, increasing the ways to win from 243 ways up to 33,614 ways, doubled thanks to the pay-both-ways mechanic.
Reaching the maximum number of pops in a single spin sequence will trigger a bonus feature. It’s a proprietary mechanic from AvatarUX Studios and powered by Yggdrasil Gaming, which as of yet, has not been licenced to others.
Splitz – Yggdrasil Gaming
Temple Stacks was the first release to feature the Splitz mechanic, closely followed by Neon Rush. ‘Splitz’ are mystery symbols that split when landing on a reel, increasing the number of ways before revealing themselves.
A possible twelve symbols per stack mean a potential of over 200,000 ways, with the max so far being 21,668 ways. Syncronite Splitz is the latest release with no mechanic licencing opportunities for others yet.
Wonderways – Foxium
Boom Pirates is the first release featuring Wonderways. Starting with a 5×4 grid and 1024 ways to win, Boom Pirates features an exploding cannonball that opens up the grid to a possible 6×9 with 10,077,696 ways to pay. The free spins round can gradually open the entire grid for big potential.
No licencing to date but another release scheduled later this year for Cossacks: The Wild Hunt Wonderways, means more to come from Foxiums dynamic offering.
So what do new dynamic reel concepts mean for players? It means more interest and possibly more excitement for a player, depending on your preference. For developers, as seen with Megaways, this could lead to a cult following, other game studios banging on your door to feature your mechanic and casinos dedicating whole sections to your design.
What started as a new and unique mechanic is almost a vertical market in its own right. Failing to have a choice of Megaways in your casino lobby is missing out on customers. It’s the blueprint of innovative success in dynamic reels, with the Megaways game engine licenced to around a dozen developers and featuring in well over 100 different online slots.
An increasing number of ways doesn’t mean more payouts than the average slot – they still have the same RTP values as their counterparts. But, they usually hold more significant top-end potential and, on the face of it, more dramatic gameplay and more fun to feast on.
You can find these and other games with dynamic reels at a vast range of online gaming sites. Feel free to browse through our list of tested casinos to find a suitable place to play them and maybe also take up a generous welcome bonus.