As slots continue to evolve, manufacturers and software providers continue to add new and exciting features to these games to make them more exciting and supposedly rewarding for players. After all, the more bonus features, free spins and opportunities to win, the better right?
While slots features unquestionably enhance the entertainment factor, it is important to realise that they also affect the volatility of the game. Volatility is referred to as the factor dictating the swings that a player will have to endure when playing a slot machine and while it doesn't influence the overall payout percentage of the game, it will give you an idea of the types of payouts you will receive along the way and the casino bankroll you'll need to sustain your play for a specific period.
In short, low volatility games have few upward and downward swings and tend to pay out more often which means that you'll need a lower value bankroll to sustain your slots session. High volatility slots, on the other hand, are prone to varied upward and downward swings and it is near impossible to predict exactly what will happen next, so you will need a larger bankroll in order to be able to ride out the downturns in anticipation of the upswings and rewards.
Now that you have an understanding of volatility, we'll take a look at a variety of slots features and discuss how these affect the game's volatility so that you can make intelligent decisions about the games you decide to play.
Wild symbols may seem like one of the most basic slots features there are, and these appear in a multitude of games, helping you to increase your number of winning combinations thanks to the fact that in general, they decrease the volatility and up your chances of achieving small and medium payouts.
If they only appear on one or two reels, the effect on the game is negligible but when a game features stacked wilds on every reel, the volatility drops and counters the swings that you're likely to encounter.
We all love a jackpot slot, after all, there are few things better than playing to win a potentially life-changing sum. Most of us never consider the effect that these jackpots have on the volatility of the game or realise the influence that this has over our non-jackpot winning spins!
When a jackpot is added to a slot, it reduces the overall value of the small and medium payouts and increases the volatility of the game. So while it may be a great feeling to chase the jackpot, these machines will affect your bottom line and playing them requires a larger bankroll to keep yourself spinning to win.
Free Spins features and bonus games are another aspects of online and mobile slots that players love. They give us a break from the mundane reel spinning and allow us to feel like we have some control over what we win.
While these features do add to the entertainment factor, they also increase the volatility of the game because they are similar to rare jackpots, even though the values of the wins you gain from them vary.
If you examine the paytables of various slots, you'll notice that those without bonus games offer more frequent small to medium payouts. This is due to the fact that these games don't have to make up for bonus feature payouts that those with bonus games do.
As you can see from the above discussion, any feature that offers a big prize will increase a slot's volatility, and generally decreases the number of smaller prizes you'll earn along the way. This is not to say that feature rich slots should be avoided at all costs, it's just that you should be aware that they will cost you more over the long run, that is, unless you get lucky and hit the big money prizes.