How are slot games made? – From concept to game

Victoria’s “I Started Playing Slots” series follows her on her journey through the world of real money mobile slots.

Zynga Slots Design ProcessHave you ever wondered what goes into making a slot game? Months of work by a team of designers and IT guys? Are some slots are made by plugging graphics into standardised game templates, while others involve a full-blown production? Well, you don’t have to speculate any longer! Here is an insider preview of what goes on behind-the-scenes.


Conceptualisation and Design

Brainstorming and Game conceptualisationThe first step is deciding the concept or theme. The company may consider the audience’s preferences, which usually differ by geography and channel (mobile or desktop). Sometimes, game companies may partner up with reputed brands and movies – slots modeled after HBO’s Game of Thrones, Universal’s Jurassic Park, Marvel’s superhero series, South Park and Immortal Romance are particularly popular among players. These collaborations usually take longer and cost more, as the slot must reflect the established brand and obtain licensing rights.

The success of a game depends on a combination of few elements – theme, graphics, game mechanics and mathematics. The mathematical element is about creating random wins based on a set of rules. The game maker decides how to balance frequent small wins with infrequent big wins. They must also determine the near-misses or partial-hits; number of free-spins and bonus payouts.

The game mechanics include the different features in each game. The game designers have to figure out every little detail. You can just imagine their conversations – How can we reimagine the Wild symbol work? What are the rules of our mini game? Can we throw away the slot reels and introduce a grid of falling candies instead? How about asking the players to build a castle while spinning the reels?



Once the game concept is in place, the art directors start by drafting the graphical elements. It’s quite like the behind-the-scenes of an animation movie; these guys decide what the characters and background setting should look like, what symbols they should place on the slot reels and so on. The designer would also establish the user-interface layout and produce wireframes that serve as a visual guide for the team. Working in parallel, there are other team members that develop sound and 3D effects; all the extra jazz that enhance the gaming experience.

Then, system developers and graphic designers start putting the games together. Most of the games today are written using the HTML5 programming language, which allows games to be written once and work on multiple platforms. Previously, most games would have to be written twice – one version for desktop players and another for mobile. My colleague Martina has written a separate article on the technological evolution of games. You can imagine how complicated the technology gets, as game servers must handle tens of billions of transactions a year, from all over the world!

That’s a lot of work! How much does this cost?!


Testing and verification

The game is also verified by an internal testing and quality assurance process, followed by an independent review and verification. Accredited test institutes like eCOGRA and iTech Labs  would make sure that the random number generator in each game is truly random. In other words, no human or computer should be able to predict the next combination on the slot reels.

These testing procedures continue even after the game is launched to public, to make sure that the game keeps working as it should. The game developer and testing institutes also keep detailed documentation; these facts and changes are then audited by gaming authorities like UK’s Gambling Commission or the Malta Gaming Authority.

Betspin Sneak Peek

Behind the scenes at Betspin: The team tests their gaming platform on multiple devices.


Promotion and Launch!

South Park Reel Chaos - Launch Promotion

When the South Park slot launched, casinos gave away lots of free spins!

Finally, the software providers and casino operators work together to launch the game on separate casino sites. When the game is ready for release, both parties also develop special promotions to attract players. Big games usually get extra fanfare; the casinos may offer free spins to try out the new games and bump them to the top on the games lobbies. These big-name games also warrant trailers that give players a sneak peek of the games features. Affiliate sites and magazines like ours would also publish game reviews to promote the new games.

Once the game is in operation, casino operators pay monthly license fees, which is determined by the revenues generated by the game.

Now, watch the entire design and development process in action! This video follows the Microgaming team as they develop the Avalon II slot.

There you have it! At the end of a long and arduous process, players like you and me will enjoy these games, for months and years to come.

About Victoria

Victoria is the team’s reviewer and critic. In her casino reviews and game reviews, you’ll find all the “specs” and exclusive playing strategies, plus screenshots and Youtube videos too! There’s no sugar-coating or boot-licking involved in her reviews; it’s all honest and (hopefully) helpful. For gamers, by gamers.

Victoria's Mobile Casino Blog Project

When Victoria started writing for Droid Slots, she had never played on a mobile slot in her life. Although it’s hard to believe given her current level of expertise, it’s been a steep learning curve for her, and the last few months have seen her wading through a whole new word of games and casinos. We hate to miss a great opportunity, as so had Victoria write about her experiences in her very own blogging section of the site. Our hope is that other players who are finding their feet can use Victoria’s discoveries as a guide to their own play. As the way she engages with casinos gets more sophisticated, so do her explanations of how to deal with the new experiences. If you’re a new player just starting out, or ever a seasoned player looking for a good read, Victoria’s blog project section is a  great place to look.

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