The World’s First Mobile Casino Slots
Slots first made their way online in 1994. As people took to gaming on their mobile phones later in the 2000s, slots migrated onto the mobile platform. This ever-green casino game has flourished on all gaming platforms; this attests to the fact that humans just love slots! The number of mobile slots available grew exponentially as different technologies emerged – WAP mobile Internet, Java Platform Micro Edition, the Apple iOS Platform, Android and HTML5.
Today, there are thousands of slots games to choose from. Slots account for 19% of the online gambling industry! It’s a whole genre on its own; one that is diverse, exciting and rewarding. Let’s celebrate its success by looking back at most popular mobile slots and casino games in history.
A Brief History of Slots
Slots were first introduced in 1894. It was a mechanical slot machine with just 5 symbols and 3 reels; players needed a really good arm to pull the heavy lever. These bulky machines were slowly replaced with wooden ones in the 1915s, electromechanical ones in 1963 (this meant players could no longer jam a stick into the reels and cheat the machine!) and eventually video slots in the 1980s. The first computerised video slot machine was a simple TV screen which displayed rolling reels. Video slots allowed games to be developed with different features and multiple bonus rounds; it also meant that developers could install multiple games on the same machine!
Pub Fruity, 2004
We could trace the roots of mobile casino games to Pub Fruity. In 2004, IOMO and Vodafone released a range of popular pub-themed games, including slots, pool, darts, arcade and a lovely-sounding one called Pub Fight. Slots had the same charm on players then as they do now, and Pub Fruity became the most popular game in the Pub Games series. It remained popular for years – Pub Fruity topped the Orange UK Top 10 Mobile Games list in 2004 and was also included in The Guardian’s list of top 10 mobile games in February 2005. This game was developed on the Java platform and included many mini games – hit the right button at the right moment, pick a jackpot, etc. It turns out that mini games have accompanied slots from the very beginning! As with all slots in this era, there was no real money involved and a Pocket Gamer review complained about the lack of incentive.
Downtown Texas Hold‘em, 2005
Poker attracts more players than slots, due to its association with wealth, luxury and great skill. The Poker craze started in 2005. Downtown Wireless released Downtown Texas Hold‘em. In this game, you could play Poker, earn chips, unlock new locations and progress towards more rewarding tournaments. Little did I know that casino gamification isn’t a new concept. Downtown Texas Hold ‘Em also wrote different opponents (virtual characters) into the game. Bloggers of that time recall the virtual opponent calling an all-in, suckering all real players into folding! I’d play the game even in the saturated gaming scene of today, so you can imagine how popular the game was back then.
Baccarat by Spin3, 2007
Real money games were few and far in-between. Spin3, the mobile gaming arm of Microgaming launched Baccarat in March 2007 and it was offered at various mobile casinos including Wild Jack and Ladbrokes. Although the games functions and features were very simple, people still flocked to these mobile casinos. These casinos “monopolised” the market, being among the very few places that accepted real money. Other games offered by Spin3 at that time included 3 Card Brag Poker and a handful of slots.
To sidetrack from games, let’s talk about the software developers. Microgaming had already been producing games for online desktop casinos, when they formed a mobile gaming division called Spin3. This happened in 2005. With Microgaming’s resources and expertise, Spin3 could produce games in four genres – Betting, Lottery, Casino, Play-for-fun. Today, Spin3 boasts 110 mobile titles, 45 of which are developed using the latest HTML5 technology. They also provide services to casino operators such as payments system, player management and marketing. Its influence spanned so far and wide that it became a founding member of eCOGRA, an independent organisation that promotes fair and responsible gaming.
mFortune’s Fruit Machine, 2007
mFortune Casino was among the first few real-money mobile casinos in the UK. It was launched towards the end of 2007. It was a true pioneer of its time and offered 11 free games for more than 200 handsets. This included a simple slots game and Blackjack. As you can see from the picture, the graphics were very retro and there were no added features. mFortune is still around today and has become one of UK’s favourite mobile casinos with 1.1 million players. Its game collection remains as unique as ever, with many newer titles like Buster Safe and Quest for Fire.
FHM Bar Games: Pinups Edition, 2010
This set of casino games is a true crowd pleaser. Since most Java games in the early 2000s did not involve real money, game developers needed to motivate players in unique ways. Maturus, a casual gaming developer and FHM partnered up to create a very addictive set of gambling games (video poker, pool and slots). The games revealed the magazine’s skimpily clad pinup girls as you win more money! All of these titles were very basic versions of each game. Apparently, it was also quite easy to progress to the highest levels. I can imagine them being very addictive too.
Poker on the App Store, 2008
The Apple AppStore caused a huge commotion when it launched in July 2008. In its early days, users could choose from 16 pages of apps on offer; among these plentiful options, Texas Hold‘em quickly ranked in the Top 10 within the first 5 hours! It was sold for $4.99 and was developed by Apple themselves. As with all things Apple, the game looks sleek and captured the glamour of Poker perfectly. Another Apple game, Live Poker was among Pocket Gamer’s top 30 mobile games in 2008, alongside UEFA Euro and Guitar Hero.
Fusion Slots, 2014
Today, game developers struggle to get their games seen among the masses. In such an environment, every programmer strives to be as different as possible. Enter, fusion slots. Fusion slots merge popular mobile games with the slots format. I have listed my five favourite fusion slots that have reinvented the iGaming industry (along with GIFs!) These games are developed using the latest HTML5 technology, which means that players can enjoy them on any mobile phone, tablet or computer.
Castle Builder, 2014
This game was nominated for EGR’s Operator Awards – Game of The Year 2014. You’ll earn building materials to build your castle. When the castle is big enough, a King moves in and you can earn more money from there. From the casino’s point of view, games like Castle Builder increases playing time and player retention, and hence, increases their profits. I gave it a go myself and found it very interesting, but the castle-building work was way too tedious. Despite that, Castle Builder definitely paves the way for more engaging slots.
Vegas Fruit Slots for smartwatches, 2015
It just gets weirder/better from here. German developer, HandyGames recently announced the world’s first fitness-based casino game – Vegas Fruit Slots for Android Wear smartwatches. This game makes use of the pedometer function; it tracks your steps and rewards you with more coins if you make more steps in a day. Then, these coins can be poured into smartwatch fruit machines. The game will be sold at 69p, although I cannot imagine any slot-enthusiast bothering to give it a go. The fitness demographic and mobile gaming demographic barely overlaps!
Mobile slots and the casinos that host them are evolving into a really wonderful source of entertainment. They have become more rewarding, more engaging and dangerously, more addictive. Of course, I could not list all of my favourite games of 2014/15 in this article. There are so many iterations of the Wild Symbol and so many mini games; paytables have become more generous too! To find out which mobile slots we love, visit our mobile slots reviews category.