A New Era or Passing Fad?
Over the past few years, the number of video slots players in land based casinos all around the world has been slipping. The general consensus is that this can be attributed to the coming of age of a new generation of gamblers who are accustomed to skills-based console games and so find games of pure chance boring. Corresponding increases in the numbers of players at table games seem to support this theory.
In response, game developers and casinos have been working together to produce a new kind of video slot.
Birth of the Hybrid Video Slot
These new games, while still depending largely on chance, incorporate an element of skill into their functioning. An even more exciting variety of hybrid video slots are those that allow players in the same or different casinos or online to compete against one another.
This means that, although the games do have a house edge, players can reduce that edge significantly.
Examples of the kind of hybrid video slots now emerging include first-person-shooter games, mazes, puzzles, and virtual golf and basketball. All of these games require a certain element of skill, but the odds are still swayed in favour of the house. After all, casinos still have to make money.
The Red Tape
Because of the money involved, casino games have always been tightly regulated, ensuring that neither the player nor the casino gets cheated by chance. Naturally, this regulation will have to be adapted for games that employ both skill and chance.
For one thing, there must be no risk of the player thinking that the game is entirely dependent on skill and so end up losing on what looked like a shoo-in. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, for example, new regulation dictates that these games have an “adaptive feature” that allows the machine to detect consistently-losing (i.e. unskilled) players and offer them additional opportunities to win. Many other, more complex legislative changes, are also required.
If you know anything about legislative processes, you’ll know that these changes won’t happen overnight. Nevertheless, online and land-based casino regulators are in the process of changing their regulations accordingly and some changes have even become official, enabling certain casinos to give these games a trial run.
What’s the Verdict?
At least one land based casino chain has already removed new hybrid video slots from its gaming floors because, although they attracted more players, profits declined notably. For that company, the increased patronage simply wasn’t worth the profit losses.
Only time will tell the future of hybrid games. In the meantime, their developers continue to seek a balance between entertainment and profit.