2020 was a tumultuous year for many of us. And the world of online slots looks radically different now than it did on January 1st. How has the slot landscape changed over the past 12 months? And what were the most prominent trends of 2020? Let’s take a look.

Volatility continues to edge ever higher

Volatility (sometimes called variance) in slots refers to how frequently wins occur, and how large those wins tend to be. Simply put, a high volatility slot will see players go through long dry runs of losing spins, but when a winner does come, it is more likely to be a big one. And the online casino public seems to be lapping these kinds of high volatility games up. At least, we can assume they are, as developers come out with slots featuring ever higher volatility. Of the 2020 releases, a full 50% of games came with a high volatility rating, as against a medium and low rating. It seems that players have a bigger appetite for risk and a greater tolerance for lots of losing spins than they did a few years back.

But developers are also getting more creative

At the same time, slot developers did become better at coming up with interesting themes – and with integrating those themes with the slot’s gameplay. Studios got much cleverer in 2020. The best example of this was perhaps Gold Volcano by Play n’ Go, which was released in July. Here, winning spins see symbols removed and are replaced not by new symbols falling from above, but from below, pushed up the molten magma. Nolimit City also released several slots featuring truly outstanding soundtracks – with Nitropolis and Punk Rocker being the standouts.

More and more developers are going the megaways route

Big Time Gaming (BTG) came out with the innovative megaways mechanic back in 2016, and since then, this feature has taken the world of slots by storm. Instead of the standard 4096 ways to win, megaways suddenly offered over a hundred thousand paylines. Once BTG licenced the mechanic to other developers, its use grew exponentially, with more and more studios spicing up repackaged classics to great acclaim. In 2020, this trend reached a new level, with almost 5 megaways releases by various studios per month. As well as pure megaways slots, other developers are coming out with their own mechanics to add more and more paylines, such as Elk with their Nitro Reels, which offers over 85 million ways to win.

2020 has been an interesting year. What will 2021 bring? We predict that the popularity of megaways will start to wane (as well as the megaways clones). There are now just too many slots whose only selling point is how many tens of thousands of ways to win it offers. Now developers are coming out with tens of millions of ways to win, we think the public will quickly become immune to the megaways trend. 2021 will likely see developers focus more on what online casino fans are actually looking for in a slot – interesting kinds of paylines and a compelling gameplay.