In mid-October 2020, Isle of Man-based slots giant Microgaming announced that they had agreed a deal with fellow slots development company Big Time Gaming to allow the use of BTG’s famous Megaways slot mechanic across the next generation of Microgaming slots.
The Megaways mechanic has proven to be a hugely successful feature in slot games, with very many different games offering a version of the slot which has the Megaways mechanic incorporated into it.
With that in mind, Microgaming have already announced that the first new slots with Megaways feature in it will come in January 2021. However, it is extremely unlikely that just one slot featuring Megaways will be in development and that gives us an intriguing prospect.
Microgaming have radically increased their progressive games output in 2020, firstly by adding three new games to the Mega Moolah progressive jackpot network, Atlantean Treasures in February, Absolootly Mad in May and in September the Fortunium Gold Mega Moolah slot. They have also released the Wowpot Progressive Network, firstly with the Wheel of Wishes slot back in February and then more recently with three new releases, Book of Atem Wowpot and Sisters of Oz Wowpot, followed by the African Legends Wowpot Major slot.
With at least one more progressive jackpot game on the horizon in 2020, Juicy Joker, is it feasible that Microgaming could look to extend their offering still further by incorporating the Megaways game mechanic into a future Mega Moolah or Wowpot progressive jackpot slot?
Before we consider the likelihood of that, let’s first explain what the Megaways mechanic is and how it is generally used in these types of games.
What is Megaways?
As you can tell from the name, the Megaways mechanic is all about giving players a greater potential number of ways to win across the reels. Unlike most slot games, which offer a fixed number of ways to win (such as 243-ways in a standard 5×3 reel slot game), Megaways slot games differ slightly in that the number of ways to win on a spin can be very different depending on what symbols appear on the reels.
Megaways slots tend to have a higher than standard number of reels, or a greater number of symbols on each reel, or both. In addition, the number of symbols that can appear on a reel will also change depending on the size of the symbol landed. The more symbols you land on each reel on a spin, the greater the number of potential ways to win that spin will have.
It is this combination of potentially more symbols on the reel on each spin, and the greater number of reels and symbols that makes the Megaways mechanic work. Megaways slots tend to offer from hundreds to many thousands of ways to win in each game and one feature that is present in most, if not all, Megaways games is that as the reels come to a halt, the number of possible ways to win on a spin will be displayed on the screen for the player to see.
One final thing to note, which could be pertinent going forward, is that many slots providers that have agreed to use the Megaways feature with BTG in the past have often used it in a Megaways version of a more standard slot game. Similar to what Microgaming have done with their Sisters of Oz Wowpot slot game, which also has a standard Jackpot variant that is not a progressive, but which is the same as the Wowpot version in all other respects.
So let’s now take a look at the key question we posed at the start of this article. Is it possible that Microgaming could ask one of their developers to come up with a new Mega Moolah or Wowpot progressive jackpot game that features the Megaways mechanic?
Will we see a Megaways Mega Moolah or Wowpot slot in 2021?
Before we answer this question, let’s first take a look at the direction Microgaming have taken with their key progressive jackpot networks over the last 12-18 months. What we have seen is a marked move towards offering players a far greater range of experiences when playing for these massive progressive jackpot prizes.
In terms of the Mega Moolah network, the original game (and the Casino Rewards exclusive Mega Vault Millionaire) are both 25-line, 5×3 reel slots with a Free Spins bonus game. However, Atlantean Treasures is a 10 line Win Both Ways slot, while Absolootly Mad offered 5×3 reels, Rolling Reels and Multiplier Trails and the most recent release, Fortunium Gold takes a completely different tack offering 40 pay lines across 5×5 reels.
In the Wowpot slots, we have had the Power Mode/Spin feature in the Wheel of Wishes slot, which players could elect to play for less than the base game. Then we had a 10-pay line 5×3 reel slot in the Book of Atem Wowpot slot followed by a 5×4 reel, 20 pay line slot with Sisters of Oz Wowpot progressive. Then we had the African Legends slot which only offered a shot at winning the Wowpot Major progressive, rather than all four Wowpot progressive jackpot prizes.
It is abundantly clear therefore that Microgaming are very keen to offer players as many different ways as they possibly can to play for their popular progressive jackpot prizes and of course, this does mean that a new feature like the Megaways mechanic could well be one that has been earmarked for inclusion in a future Mega Moolah or Wowpot release.
However, there could be a few things to consider before that actually happens.
What would the Megaways feature mean in a new progressive slot?
One of the key things about any progressive jackpot slot is that the odds in these games are very carefully calculated to ensure that they offer players the same chances to win the top progressive prizes regardless of which game you play.
To help them with that, these games tend to have a fixed number of reels and pay lines in play but with Megaways, while the reels are generally set in number, the number of symbols on those reels and thus, the number of ways to win across the reels does change from spin to spin and can change markedly.
If Microgaming, or its associated software development companies can figure out a way for this to not impinge on a players chances of winning a jackpot prize, then I think a Megaways Mega Moolah or Wowpot (or even both) slot in 2021 is a very good bet. There is no doubt that the market for both these progressive jackpot games is absolutely buoyant at the moment as we await the first winner of the Wowpot progressive jackpot prize (which now stands at over 8 million), while we are now looking for the eighth Mega Moolah Mega jackpot winner of 2020 after the last winner landed their prize in the middle of September.
Certainly, adding a Megaways feature to these games would be a big plus for players and there are Megaways games available that have progressive jackpot prizes available to be won on them, so it can be done.
The question is whether Microgaming want to go down this route for either or both of their most popular slot games and I guess we will know the answer to that when we see the first games of 2021 hit casinos.