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Slot Vocabulary: Sticky Slots, Slippery Slots

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Written by Joshua

A recent article on this topic reminded me of a term that I had not heard in awhile, but have heard over the years, that of Sticky Slots, and a converse term, Slippery Slots, which was new to me.

Sticky Slots are games that make players want to hunker down and keep playing. Of course, the opposite is Slippery Slots, games that make players want to get up quickly and move on.

Frank Legato wrote a wonderful piece for Global Gaming Business magazine on making slots stickier. There’s a lot of great material in there, but some interesting bullets:

Achievements Make Games Sticky

I recently wrote a piece on the site around games that have various achievements or milestones you can hit, some harder than others, so in the context of that this makes a lot of sense.

Other types of achievements, like unlocking multipliers or other equity on persistent state games is certainly another way of doing this, and keeping players going on a game until they do.

Lots of Slots Fail

The article mentions that only a quarter of slots tend to succeed over time, which means that’s a lot of games that burn out quickly. You see in other entertainment media like movies, music and so on a failure rate to some degree (you can’t ever predict with precision what people will like 100 percent of the time) but that is a number that could stand to improve.

Manufacturers are releasing more games than ever before, and that also means a lot of different games for players to try, and sometimes they just simply aren’t drawn in.

Casinos Have Lots of Low Performing Games

Even more interesting was a fact I’d seen cited before recently which is that many casinos have a lot of underperforming games on their casino floor. Many casinos had turned off half their games, but their revenue didn’t shrink by half. If you walked casinos in more normal times, it may not have been surprising – many casinos have sections of floor that aren’t getting as much action – but after a year like we’ve all had, some new scrutiny is underway.

Some more creative casinos, like Ocean Casino Resort in New Jersey, put their star performers separated by an older/less popular machine in many zones, designed to allow them to keep all the new and popular games up and running. It may or may not be surprising that Ocean saw profit growth in 2020, although they certainly had a lot of room to improve. But to basically go from worst to first is a bit surprising.

Data seen at properties like this and how things worked out will likely portend future changes to casino floors of less machines, arranged differently to maximize the benefit from each machine more.

How Often You Leave a Winner Matters

I’ve talked about things like Hit Frequency and Volatility on the site here, but one of the sources in Legato’s article spoke about how often you get up a winner. Too often, and games may lead to too much time on device. Too infrequent, and players may never play.

They referenced a 20 percent winning percentage (meaning once in five sessions over time, a player should get up a winner) as the sweet spot. This sounds right to me, although they’ve got better data than myself on this.

Familiarity Tends to Succeed

Why are you seeing so many slot sequels of popular titles on the floor? Players seek out those proven games that they enjoy, and they’ll play new games based on games they enjoy.

It’s just like TV or the movies – there will be a certain percentage of people who will try new Buffalo games because they like previous Buffalo games, and so on.

My site traffic over the past two years has underscored this – the most popular and enduring titles in the casino are also the most popular and enduring topics that get traffic here. Players love their favored games.

And so it won’t also surprise you to discover that many of the gaming companies watch what is popular from other manufacturers, and will consider putting their own spin on things. This is why there’s so many link-style games on the casino floor, for instance – many of them have proven successful over time.

There’s a lot more great stuff in Frank’s article on making slots stickier, and I encourage you to check it out!

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.

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