Skill-Based Slots

Learn what skill-based slots are and how they're different from luck-based slot machines. And look at what the best skill-based slots have to offer.

Skill-based slots breaks down the traditional game of luck by allowing players to acquire massive payouts with their skills. Are skill-based slot machines different from your typical casino slots, or even from more modern i-Slots? Can you get better payouts from skill-based slots? Let us answer those questions by taking a close look at skill casino games.

What is a Skill-Based Slot Machine

Interactivity is the defining element of skill-based gaming where the player has full control over certain or all parts of a title. In traditional online slots, the outcome of a player's bet comes down to the slot's PRNG.  Spinning the reels and adjusting your bet are the only interactive portions of a slot, save for certain bonus features.

Skill online slots are closely related to video games where you have more ways to interact with the titles. A majority of skill games mimic popular arcade games, computer software, or mobile apps. As players progress in the game such as getting more skills, reaching new levels, or completing obstacles, they increase the payout for their bet.

Top 5 Skill-Based Slot Games

Below are five of the best skill slot machines that have piqued our interest due to nostalgia and the games' interesting features.

1. Lucked & Loaded by Synergy Blue

Synergy Blue's Lucked & Loaded is an FPS that takes on the aesthetic of a classic gun arcade game. With a gun controller, players earn points by shooting hostile aliens with red outlines. Each level contains a boss, rewarding players with a massive bonus payout when these enemies are taken down.

Added to the challenge is a health bar that decreases each time a player gets hit by enemy projectiles. Hitting innocent characters with blue outlines can also hurt a player's health. You can get a higher return to your bets as you shoot down as many aliens as possible while keeping your HP from depleting.

Live demonstration of Lucked & Loaded at the 2019 Global Gaming Expo

2. Space Invaders by Scientific Games

(credits: PRNewsfoto/Scientific Games Corporation)

As a homage to the classic arcade game, Space Invaders from Scientific Games blends skill and slot gaming into one package. Space Invaders' base game plays like a traditional 5x4 slot game with a wild reel feature.

When you match the bonus symbols, you get to play the classic Space Invaders game, where you get 150 shots to destroy alien ships. Bottom-tiered ships offer smaller rewards, while the top-tiered ones offer higher payouts. Like the classic game, a random UFO that scrolls the top portion of the screen gives you the best possible price when you shoot it down.

3. Arkanoid by Next Gaming

Next Gaming's Arkanoid is a nearly perfect interpretation of Taito's popular brick-breaking title with additional features. Your objective is to clear all colored bricks at a level by rallying a bouncing ball with your cylindrical ship. Hidden in certain blocks are power-ups that make it easier to clear the blocks, such as a laser projectile attachment, multi-balls, and a ball magnet.

 Arkanoid also features a boss level that shoots a deadly projectile at your ship. Defeating the boss by hitting it with the ball several times will reward you with a large cash prize.

4. Danger Arena by GameCo

This list would not be complete if we did not include the one that started the skill-gaming craze. Danger Arena from GameCo has you gunning down enemy robots within a 3D stage. You have a limited time to beat a minimum number of robots to get a cash payout. Clearing the stage of all target enemies will reward you with a large cash prize.

An interesting game feature is power-ups that give you various abilities, such as a barrier to protect you from enemy fire. Getting these power-ups also grants you a cash reward.

Danger Arena by GameCo
Danger Arena by GameCo

5. Beat Square Tournament by Konami

Beat Square Tournament from Konami is the casino equivalent of the popular music arcade game Jubeat. In this game, you play the notes of selected music by pressing one or more of the 16 LCD panels.

Your score is determined by the timing of your panel presses, where accurate hits get a higher score. Harder difficulties yield better rewards or bet multipliers but with harder button sequences. True to Konami's Bemani arcade games, Beat Square Tournament boasts several familiar songs and music.

Beat Square Tournament by Konami
Beat Square Tournament by Konami

Benefits of Skill-Based Slot Games  

Standard slots are limited to how players can influence their chances of getting better returns on their bets. Players can only rely on luck each time they spin the reels. Even in specific slots with a skill-game mode, players have little influence in finding a choice that yields the best possible reward.

Control is what makes skill slot machines appealing since traditional slots barely give any to the players. Some people believe they can double or quadruple their bets if they can heavily influence the outcome of the results. For these types of players, online skill slots and physical machines can give them the opportunity of breaking away from the PRNG rolls.

What makes "control" marketable among a large group of casino players? Imagine there are two slots in front of you. Slot A regularly offers a consistent payout, but you can only bet the same amount and can only spin the reels. On the other hand, slot B gives you the option to gamble your winnings and double your amounts with a 50/50 chance.

Those who choose slot B tend to enjoy skill online slots because of the control granted to them. As long as a game allows its players to influence their chances of a better payout with a decent risk, it resonates with various types of players.

Millennials are one type of audience that is attracted to skill slot games.  Anyone born around the 80s and 90s experienced the rapid development of technology. Traditional slots are not attracting those who grew up during the technological development era since they are seen as a relic for the previous generations.

On the other hand, skill-based slots resonate with millennials that play like the arcade or mobile app games they enjoyed. They also enjoy the notion of using their experience in playing the games they enjoyed during their childhood to win better rewards instead of just luck.

Limits of Skill-Based Slot Games

While having complete control over one's chances of winning a large payout is appealing to specific audiences, it is the opposite for others. When you think about it, why are there fewer skill slot machines in popular casinos than traditional slots? Skill casino gaming's disadvantage is its difficulty for the average casino patron.

A good way to illustrate skill slot machines is carnival games or sideshows where you can take home a prize if you can land 3 out of 5 balls into a basket. You can even receive bigger prizes if you sink four or all of the balls into a basket. Anyone can play the game since the object is to toss the ball onto a specific location. However, the game is set where the management has the edge in the game that making it incredibly hard to score just one ball.

You can experience the same situation with all skill online slots where the first set of obstacles is relatively easy to complete. When you reach the next set of obstacles that will reward you with the minimum payout, the difficulty spike makes the game harder for the average player. Those who have invested hours and money in playing the game have a better chance of getting a significant return on their bet.

Another issue with online skill slots is the PRNG. That's right; you are still at the mercy of an algorithm's luck while playing skill gaming software. PRNG determines the number of factors in a game, such as the enemy spawn rate, projectile fire direction, and word tile appearance. Even traditional video games use RNG in their gaming mechanics.

Because of the presence of PRNG, the algorithm significantly affects the players' chances of winning the jackpot prizes. Depending on luck, players can get enemies with higher point value or a crucial power up for around.

Top 5 Skill-Based Slot Games
Top 5 Skill-Based Slot Games

Regulatory Challenges of Skill-Based Slot Machines

law icon

With the introduction of skill-based, software manufacturers saw an opportunity to bring in a new type of audience who have been playing various video games throughout their childhood. As evidence by the first skill game, Danger Arena from GameCo, bringing the arcade experience to the casinos can bring in young adults with dispensable income.

Interactive slot machines have reached various casinos around the globe as well as online gambling sites. Even the likes of Konami, a popular game developer responsible for iconic video game franchises such as Contra and Castlevania, have made skill slot machines.

Unfortunately, physical and online skill games are the equivalent to the wild west for regulators or gaming commissions. Regulations set upon traditional gambling games are made to avoid psychological harm and to ensure a responsible practice among casino operators. However, these regulations come from years of research and study of slots, table games, and other traditional forms of gambling.

How does one translate the regulation standards of common casino games to casino skill games? Shooting down robots, hopping across the road, or arranging letter tiles to create words is very different from a simple press of the button to spin the reels or to draw a card. Are skill games harmful to people with gambling problems?

Extensive research is required for regulators to find a correlation between skill gaming and problem gambling. It is not feasable to use the same regulatory framework on skill online slots since this was intended for traditional gaming.

One of the institutes researching the effects of skill slot machines is The Victorian Responsible Gambling Ministerial Advisory Council as well as Dr. Sally Gainsbury. Both are from the University of Sydney's Gambling Treatment & Research Center.

In the case of the Australian/New Zealand Gaming Machine National Standard 2016, they only require a skill-based game to be transparent to the players. This includes providing a clear expectation of the odds, game rules, and other features. Games must also avoid providing misleading information such as the skill slot machine payouts.

While protection for the players is a priority among regulators around the globe, balance is essential when it comes to finding a suitable regulation framework for skill online slots. Regulation offices look for the skill-based gaming industry to flourish in the market and not have new rules impede its growth. With sufficient research, regulators can find sufficient legal standards that protect the player while giving the skill-gaming industry room to expand.

How Do Skill-Based Slots Work
How Do Skill-Based Slots Work

Skill slot machines offer an exciting method to win cash prizes on the casino floor. However, the skills required to win a decent payout can be detrimental for certain casino patrons.