Slot Machine Types 101: Every Type of Slot Games Explained

Slot machines are always the largest category of games for both online and offline casinos. The simplicity of these games make them a prime choice among all players. At the same time, software providers have the creative freedom to work with all kinds of themes and narratives. 

But the term "slot machines" is very broad. When we hear the term, the visual that comes to mind is a machine with a lever. Someone pulls the lever and we hear a mechanical sound and see the reels spinning. At least, that’s what mainstream media portrays slots to be. 

In reality, the scope of online slots is much bigger. That’s what I plan to explore in this post. This is your ultimate guide on all the types of slot machines. 

Classic/3-Reel Slots

This is where it all started. Of course, the definition of these slots will vary from player to player as everyone is exposed to different types. In general, classic slot machines have 3 mechanical reels with a single payline in the middle. The online version of these games are very much inspired by their real-life counterparts. 

These games typically don’t have any extra bonuses or fancy features. But many of them have jackpot features that may change the life of some players. 3-reel slots are one of my favorites because of how simple they are. There is no better way to unwind from a day's work than to spin these reels a few times. 

Video Slots

When people say online slots these days, they typically refer to video slots. In these games, the software providers include different multimedia layers to make the gaming experience more vibrant and engaging. 

In most cases, a video slot has a dedicated theme that tells a story. For example, the Immortal Romance slot by Microgaming takes place in a gothic church with multiple characters in play. The symbols in the game also reflect the theme. 

The main appeal of video slots is advanced use of graphics and sound design that leads the player to a different realm. They can come in all kinds of formations, as I’m about to discuss in the rest of this guide.

Progressive Slots

Also known as "Progressive Jackpots", these can be classic slots, video slots, or any of the other ones I haven’t discussed yet. The defining feature of progressive slots is a progressive prize pool. Over time, the pool keeps increasing until one lucky player wins it.

Progressive slots are generally run in a network, managed by the software provider. Every time a player places a bet, a portion of that bet goes to the progressive pool. That’s how it keeps building. No one knows when it’ll pay out or who it’ll pay out to. Everything is controlled by the random number generator (RNG)

Mega Moolah is perhaps the most popular progressive online jackpot slot of all time. It has paid over $1 billion since 2005. Many of these winnings have been millions of dollars to single players!

Multiplier Slots

Well, this is more of a feature in online slots than a different genre of game. Most modern video slots have some kind of multiplier feature. As you’d expect, the purpose of multipliers is to “multiply” your winnings. It’s an amazing tool for software providers to popularize their games. 

In my experience, the multiplier feature usually triggers during the bonus round of a slot machine. Every time you win, the multiplier can go from 1x to 5x. I’ve seen games with over 50x multiplier potential!

Of course, there are other ways the developer includes the multiplier feature. For example, a lot of Microgaming titles get multipliers on each free spin. NetEnt slots trigger multipliers when the Avalanche feature is triggered. 

If racking up big in winnings is one of your goals, it doesn’t get much better than multiplier slots. Then again, be sure to check the maximum winning potential before you start spinning the reels.

Multi-Payline Slots

In case you’re not aware, a "payline" is a combination of reel positions that pay. Most modern slots have multiple paylines. It can range anywhere from 3 to a whopping 117,649! The extreme end of the multi-payline slots is usually occupied by Megaways games. 

Megaways is a unique game mechanic developed by Big Time Gaming. Essentially, the number of paylines keeps changing every time you spin the reel thanks to the variable reel positions on the 6 fixed reels. 

As for regular games, you can find both fixed payline games and adjustable payline games. Here is what they mean.

  • Fixed Payline Games: The number of paylines remains fixed. So, you can only control your bet value and not the bet per line value. 
  • Adjustable Payline Games: In these games, you can change the number of active paylines. These games also allow players to adjust the coins per line as well as the coin value. By reducing the number of paylines, you increase the likelihood of a large win but decrease the overall probability. The opposite is true when you increase the number of active lines. 

3D Slots

These are some of the latest additions in the iGaming industry. The "3D" aspect is essentially referring to the spectacular visual effects in high definition. The graphics are so crisp that it feels like you’re seeing the objects in a 3D space. 

Software providers also use clever techniques like spinning the reels in multiple planes and making other objects on the screen interactive.

However, my experience with these games is that unless you have exceptionally good internet connection, expect some lag. It’s not always a good idea to focus too much on the 3D factor because it can ultimately take away from the actual enjoyment of playing slots. 

Some popular 3D slots that you can play right now include: 

  • Egg-O-Matic by NetEnt
  • Turning Totems by Thunderkick
  • Vikings Go To Hell by Yggdrasil
  • Reactor by Red Tiger

Mobile Slots

The title of this section is pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it? By mobile slots, I’m referring to games that have been designed with mobile devices in mind. Now, most modern online slots use HTML5, a web design language that allows games to fit into any screen size. 

In some cases, you may not find all games from a casino’s library on the mobile site. It comes down to how the software provider has optimized the games.

Then there are mobile apps. In my experience, software providers don’t offer any downloadable version of their games. If an online casino offers a mobile app, the API for the game is integrated into that.  

Mega Spin Slots

Popularized by Microgaming, Mega Spin slots are unique games where reels from multiple games are combined in a single game. Games like Double Magic Megaspin, High Five Megaspin, and Fantastic 7’s are all examples of this game type. 

The main appeal of mega spin slots is the increased potential of winning thanks to the added reels all over the screen. When you play these games for the first time, it may take a while for you to understand the full grasp of these titles. 

Fruit Machines

By definition, a fruit machine is “a coin-operated gaming machine that generates random combinations of symbols (typically representing fruit) on a dial, certain combinations winning varying amounts of money for the player”. 

I took this definition from Oxford Languages. Does it sound familiar? Well, it’s essentially explaining what a slot machine is but with a fruity twist. When the majority of the symbols in a slot are fruits, you can call it a fruit machine. 

Back in the day, the majority of mechanical slot machines had a similar set of symbols. They used to have plums, oranges, grapes, watermelons, cherries, etc. on the reels. The overwhelming presence of fruits gave them the name of fruit machines, a title that is still used by players. 

Wrapping Up

Apart from the types of slots we discussed, there are plenty of other ways you can categorize this game type. It's somewhat subjective in the sense how you want to approach them. 


With that said, keep an eye on our website as we'll keep educating our readers on everything related to online gambling.

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