Megaways Slots

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Megaways slots are a popular type of online slot game developed by the Big Time Gaming (BTG) and have since been licensed to other slot developers. The Megaways mechanic revolutionized slot games by offering a dynamic and innovative way to play, enhancing the gaming experience for players.

The main feature that sets Megaways slots apart from traditional is their changing reel structure. Instead of having a fixed number of symbols per reel, Megaways slots have a random number for every spin. This leads to a vastly increased number of ways to win, often reaching into tens or hundreds of thousands.

Developed by Big Time Gaming (BTG), the Megaways mechanic has radically transformed how players and developers perceive slot gameplay, offering a dynamic reel structure that significantly increases the number of potential winning combinations.

Concept and Mechanics

The fundamental concept of Megaways slots is the variable reel symbol height on each spin. Typically, each reel can display between two to seven symbols, and the number changes randomly with each spin. 

This variability affects the number of total possible ways to win - with the standard format of six reels, it is possible to achieve up to 117,649 ways to win, calculated as 7^6 (7 symbols per 6 reels). Some games push these boundaries even further, offering up to 586,971 ways in newer variants.The Megaways mechanic was first introduced in 2016 with the release of 'Dragon Born', but it was 'Bonanza Megaways' that truly set the gaming world alight. BTG's innovative approach wasn't limited to increasing the number of win ways; it also integrated features like cascading reels, which allow winning symbols to disappear and new ones to fall into their places, potentially creating further wins.

The mechanic's popularity led BTG to license the technology to other software developers, including industry giants like NetEnt and Blueprint Gaming. This licensing has spurred a wide variety of games featuring the Megaways system, each adding its own unique twist to the fundamental mechanic.

Game Features and Innovations

In addition to the variable reel sizes, Megaways slots often include additional features that enhance gameplay:

  • Cascading Reels: Also known as reactions, this feature allows multiple consecutive wins from a single spin.
  • Free Spins and Unlimited Win Multipliers: Free spins are a common feature, often combined with multipliers that increase with each cascade.
  • Feature Buy Options: Some Megaways games offer players the ability to directly buy into bonus rounds, typically at a premium of the player's stake.
  • Mystery Symbols and Wilds: These add layers of excitement and surprise, with mystery symbols transforming into any other symbol except the scatter.

Volatility and RTP

Megaways slots are typically known for their high volatility, meaning they offer larger payouts that occur less frequently. This can be more attractive to high-risk players looking for big wins. 

The Return to Player (RTP) percentages in Megaways slots usually hover around 96%, which is fairly standard for online slots but decent enough to attract serious slot players.

Pros and Cons of Megaways Slots

Pros

  • High Winning Potential: With thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of ways to win, Megaways slots can offer significant payouts.
  • Innovative Gameplay: Megaways technology brings a dynamic change to how symbols land on the reels, offering a refreshing take compared to the more traditional slot layouts.
  • Feature-Rich: Many Megaways slots include features like cascading reels, increasing multipliers during bonus rounds, mystery symbols, and free spins, enhancing the gaming experience.
  • Broad Betting Range: Megaways slots generally offer a wide range of bet sizes, making them accessible for all types of players, whether you are a casual player or a high roller.
  • Variety: There's a Megaways version for a multitude of popular slots and themes, catering to all players' tastes.

Cons

  • Complexity: For new players or those used to traditional slot machines, the mechanics of Megaways can be confusing at first with its varying symbols and reel sizes coupled with complex features.
  • Higher Volatility: Megaways slots often come with high volatility. This means bigger but less frequent wins. You might have to play for a longer period before hitting a substantial win, which may not be suitable for players with smaller budgets.
  • Lower Base Game Wins: In many Megaways slots, the base game can offer lower payouts, and the real potential for big wins is often tied to bonus rounds or special features.
  • Limited Availability: While growing in popularity, not all online casinos offer Megaways slots, limiting their availability to some players.
  • Lack of Progressive Jackpots: Most of the Megaways slots don't feature progressive jackpot, which might be a downside for some players who seek the life-changing win potential of progressive slots.

History

The inception of Megaways slots can be traced back to Big Time Gaming (BTG), an Australian software company known for its innovative approach to online casino games. 

BTG CEO Nik Robinson, who had previously founded New Tech Media, which was sold to News Corp and merged with Orbis to become Openbet, envisioned a slot game mechanism that could offer a significantly higher number of potential winning combinations compared to traditional slots.

The first Megaways slot, "Dragon Born," was released in 2016 but did not make a huge impact initially. However, the subsequent release, "Bonanza Megaways" in the same year, became a massive hit. Bonanza effectively utilized the Megaways mechanic, featuring six reels and up to seven symbols per reel, which could result in up to 117,649 ways to win.

The key innovation was the variable symbol height on each reel during every spin, meaning that every spin could have a different number of total possible win ways. This unpredictability, combined with cascading reels and extensive multipliers, added a new dimension of excitement to the gameplay.

Examples of Popular Megaways Slots

  • 'Gonzo's Quest Megaways' by Red Tiger Gaming: Combines the beloved character and theme of the original Gonzo's Quest with the Megaways mechanics.
  • 'Extra Chilli Megaways' by Big Time Gaming: Known for its high volatility and feature buy option, allowing players to purchase free spins.
  • 'Genie Jackpots Megaways' by Blueprint Gaming: Offers up to 15,625 ways to win and multiple power spin bonuses.

Conclusion

Megaways slots have undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the casino gaming industry. By transforming the fundamental architecture of the slot machine experience, they have created a new standard that balances complexity with immense entertainment value. 

FAQ About Megaways Slots

  • What is the average Return to Player (RTP) on Megaways slots?
  • What features are common in Megaways slots?
  • What is the maximum number of Megaways?
  • Can I play Megaways slots on my mobile device?
  • What makes Megaways slots different from traditional slots?
  • Can I control the number of active Megaways during a game?
  • What happens during a 'cascading reels' feature in Megaways slots?
  • Do Megaways slots always feature traditional paylines?
  • How can I tell how many Megaways are active on a given spin?