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Distinguishing Between Classic Retro Slots and Today’s Video Slot Machines

Slot machines have gradually evolved from simple mechanical devices to complex digital marvels, captivating audiences for over a century. Years back, a slot machine was a simple three-reel machine with only five symbols, but today, that has changed.

The machines are now more complex, with multiple reels, bonus features, and paylines. In today’s article, we take a look at the classic retro slots and modern video slot machines while analyzing their key differences.

How Old are Classic Retro Slots?

With the first ever slot machine (Liberty Bell) created in 1895 by Charles Fey, the Classic retro slots became the legacy frameworks, taking centre stage of slot play in land-based casinos for decades. After the Liberty Bell slot machine’s creation, most classic retro slots started coming up, thanks to Charles Fey. This machine incorporated key features like 3 reels, automatic payouts to eliminate the need for an attendant to pay out winnings, and a single pay line manually.

“Liberty Bell” entailed symbols such as diamonds and spades, which were among the final symbols that adorned the metal hoops of the first slot machine’s reel. Today, classic retro slots epitomize stylish simplicity, with only a few pay lines needed to relay the golden age charm.

They entail a match three of the same. Moreover, they require only one or two bonus rounds to get a reward. Players can claim a win via a single reel game.

Digital Revolution and Video Slot Machines

On the flip side, video slot machines are the new trend, more of what we call modern game changers. They are designed to offer a wide selection of bonus features while drawing upon various techniques to fuel innovation, such as Random Number Generators (RNGs). Today’s video slot machines focus more on speed, realistic graphics, animations, and smooth functioning via game mechanisms to promote player interaction and appeal to a huge player base.

Video slots utilize elements such as 3D graphics, exciting themes, compelling storylines, and unique bonus features across multiple paylines to make the game sessions more interactive. Furthermore, the modern video slot machine reel has varying sets: fixed and adjustable paylines, mega ways wins, rolling reels, cascading reels, wins, and fixed reels in both ways.

Classic Retro Slots VS Today’s Video Slot Machines: What’s Differences?

Classic retro slots and modern video slot machines have their differences, as highlighted in the list below, with the major difference being the number of reels, followed by the number of pay lines.

Classic Retro Slots

  • Limited Reels and Pay Lines: These slots have only 3 reels and a single pay line. This means that symbols have to land on specific lines to trigger a payout.
  • Low Volatility: The Classic retro slots feature smaller payouts and higher hit frequencies, which is ideal for players who enjoy the thrill of frequent wins.
  • Simple Gameplay: The retro slots involve the pulling of a lever or pushing of a button to spin physical reels adorned with classic symbols like gold bars, lucky red sevens, bells, and fruits.
  • Featured Bonus: Classic retro slots present limited bonus features with only one or two bonus features.
  • Average Jackpot Size: These slots typically have small jackpots, ranging from a few thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars. The smaller jackpots are because of the limited payout technology and network size. According to CNBC, the largest jackpot won in classic retro slots was $4.6 million on Megabucks in 1998 at the Mirage (adjusted for inflation, equivalent to $7.8 million in 2023). An interesting fact is that in 2005, at the age of 92, the same man won $21.1 million in North Las Vegas’s Cannery Casino!

Today’s Video Slot Machines

  • Multiple Reels and Payline: The modern slots feature 5 plus reels and numerous pay lines (20-50 or more) with games offering 243 to 1024 or more ways to win.
  • High Volatility: These slots offer bigger jackpots and lower hit frequencies, which cater to players seeking the possibility of big wins with high stakes.
  • Advanced Gameplay: These slots have advanced yet interactive gameplay, which is suitable for seasoned players.
  • Bonus Rounds and Special Features: Video slot machines with bonus rounds and free spins are increasing players’ potential to win. Wild and Scatter symbols (as the most widespread) complement the storyline and themes, whether it’s a slot with vampire music, an adventure-themed slot, or a futuristic theme.
  • Average Jackpot Size: Modern video slots machines have a significantly larger jackpot size, ranging from hundreds of thousands to millions. The jackpots are larger because;
  • advanced payout technology,
  • a larger player base in online casinos,
  • progressive jackpots that accumulate across multiple machines.

As we can see at Guinness World Records, the largest video slot machine jackpot won is €18.9 million on Mega Moolah in 2021. And this is equivalent to $20.3 million in 2023!

The table below summarizes the key differences between classic retro slots and today’s video slot machines:

FeaturesClassic Retro SlotsToday’s Video Slot Machines
Average Number of Reels35 and above
Average Number of Pay lines120 to 50 or more
RTPLow (75%-85%)High (92%-96%)
Average Jackpot SizeSmallerLarger
Bonus FeaturesLimitedNumerous

To sum up, while GlobeNewswire reports that the global online slot market revenue was around $23.3 billion in 2022, modern video slots account for the majority. Although both types of slots offer players engaging gaming sessions, modern video slots are more advanced and offer more benefits compared to classic retro slots.

However, if you are someone who loves the thrill of slots with vintage themes or traditional slot machine gaming vibes, then classic retro slots would be an ideal choice.

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