For most slots players, maths is a minor consideration in their gameplay. That’s a shame because the whole industry is based on mathematics. One way in which mathematics is highlighted to players directly, and is proving massively profitable and successful is in Megaways slots, a gaming engine that changes the way that wins are calculated on the reels.
There are dozens of titles with Megaways in their name now, including some of the biggest hits in the UK online slots market. These include games from the company that came up with the system and a lot more developers who use it under licence.
In this guide we will tell you:
- What are Megaways slots,
- How Megaways slots work,
- What Megaways means for players, and
- The most popular Megaways games.
Let’s get stuck into Megaways!
Bets Casinos to Play Megaways Slots
Megaways Slots Listed
What is the Megaways Slots System?
Megaways is the property of Big Time Gaming, an Australian slot developer.
Big Time Gaming was founded in 2011. Although the company has been around for nine years they have only 38 games on the UK market.
But they’re big hits, and the company is rated as the 12th biggest and most popular slot provider for UK players.
Their top games are:
Bonanza Megaways, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Megaways, Star Clusters Megaways, Monopoly Megaways, and Extra Chilli Megaways. One more of the company’s 10 most popular slots in the UK is also a Megaways title: Royal Mint Megaways.
The company’s size and power are partly down to its innovation, and that is where Megaways comes in.
Their most recent Megaways release was Survivor Megaways in April 2020, so it’s still a big part of the Big Time Gaming operation.
They’ve also branched out from there into a new, related system called Megaclusters, which is the headline of the company’s latest release, Star Clusters Megaways.
The Megaways system first appeared in 2015 on the game Dragon Born.
Let’s look at how it works.
How Megaways Slots Work
To understand how Megaways work we need first to understand how a traditional slot works.
When we review a slot we always list its set-up. The standard – and the oldest – set up for a slot is of five reels with three rows of symbols visible.
This means that there are 15 symbols in play.
Traditionally, winning combinations of symbols are formed in this field of play when the reels come to a stop along what are called pay lines.
The simplest and always number one pay line is the straight, horizontal line across the centre of the reels. With 15 symbols in play, it’s easy to construct 15, 20, or 25 pay lines.
You should be able to see these pay lines by clicking on the information or menu button on the slot you’re playing.
This information is delivered along with the paytable that shows you what symbols are used in a game and how much each winning combination pays out.
What you’re not usually told is how many symbols are on each reel – essentially, a random number generator now rather than an actual reel.
This what decides how much players’ money is paid back in prizes, a figure described as a theoretical return to player.
Very simply, if there were five symbols on a reel, (or mathematical modelling that equates to that) then each of them has a 1 in 5 chance of appearing on a single central pay line. So the chance of matching a full house of five symbols along a line would be 1/5 x 1/5 x 1/5 x 1/5 x 1/5. This works out as 1/3,125. That means you might expect to hit this winning combination once every 3,125 spins, or on 0.032% of your spins.
Because most slots have more than one winning symbol, you’re actually in a contest to hit a set of any symbol, so you can multiply this probability by 5, to make 1/625 or 0.16% of spins.
If the stake is £1 and the prize for a set of five symbols is £625 then players should expect to break even in the long-term.
By setting the prizes at lower than the odds of hitting the wins, the casino makes a profit.
That’s a very simple guide to how a standard pay-line slot works.
Megaways works like this:
Instead of delivering winning combinations along lines, Megaways awards prizes for combinations of matching symbols that are simply on adjoining reels. So, on our example of a 5 by 3 game with 5 symbols, our cherry will now score a win if it appears in three out of the five positions. This massively increases the number of possible winning combinations on the reels.
Megaways games often have irregular reel set-ups too. For example, it is standard in a Megaways slot to promise up to 117,649 ways to win (how this system is described) from six reels.
The final reel is usually a horizontal reel under or over the regular set. This reel can deliver a final symbol to the reels it lies above – usually 2 through 5 – from a seven symbol reel.
The ways to win are essentially every reel slot, so, 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 = 117,649 ways to win
Remember these are potential ways to win.
The formula applies across any number of reels. So, a 432 Megaways slot is 3, 2, 6, 2, 3, 2 reel set up. A six reel set-up with five symbols on each reel will offer 15,625 ways to win.
This is all very exciting, and we always recommend that anyone who has more than a passing interest in gambling takes some time to understand probabilities and risk and how games work.
What Does Megaways Mean for Players?
The short answer is that Megaways in itself shouldn’t mean that much to players.
That is because although the granular mechanics of the games change a lot because of Megaways, the overall mathematics as they relate to the player do not.
Let’s have a look at one of the most popular Megaways games and compare it to a popular game using regular pay lines.
Bonanza is the most popular of Big Time Gaming’s Megaways games.
It has the layout we’ve mentioned above of six classic reels with a four symbol horizontal reel above them to make seven reels. There are 10 symbols, with the top one, a purple gem awarding 50 times stake. The top prize is a 10,000-times stake (via bonus games).
The game delivers the top Megaways number of 117,649 ways to win.
But the biggest number here is that RTP is 96%. That means that over the lifetime of the fame Bonanza Megaways should return that proportion to players. This is the profitability of the game that we mentioned above – all games are set up in this way, that’s how casino companies make their cash.
Now let’s look at a non-Megaways game.
The UK’s number 1 slot game is – and has been for years – Starburst by NetEnt.
It’s been around since 2013, and is very classic, including a 5 by 3 grid of symbols with 10 pay lines that are doubled up to 20 because they run in both directions.
The game has seven paying symbols, excluding special symbols, topping off at BARS which award a top prize of 250-times stake. The overall top prize is 50,000-times stake.
And, the game has an RTP of 96.01%.
So, if the game operates as it is designed to operate then it will produce almost exactly the same results as a Megaways game.
That’s because this RTP is what the market will currently support. While there is a lot of choice in the slot market, in a way it is a false choice, because so many slot games are almost exactly the same in fundamental ways! Capitalism often ends up this way: think of the huge choice of different types of chocolate bar you have – many of which are differently branded products of two or three very large corporations that are essentially the same thing with some superficial or branding differences.
Megaways Slots – an innovation
So Megaways is really a gameplay and a technical innovation.
This means that you shouldn’t expect a radically different experience to your wins and losses from these games, but if you like the way they feel when they play then you should play them. For example, cascading wins are a common feature of Megaways games, and they’re a fun feature, so if you like that then play for that reason, don’t be fooled by the idea that lots of ways to win means lots of wins – the game will deliver on the RTP and the volatility/variability (the size and frequency of wins expected) figures rather than pay line figures.
The most popular Megaways Slots
Big Time Gaming is the progenitor of Megaways, but they have cast their seed upon the fertile ground, and Megaways have gone forth and they have multiplied.
The system is so popular that a number of other companies now use the system to deliver their games under licence.
These are the UK’s favourite Megaways slots games.
1 – Gonzo’s Quest Megaways by Red Tiger
Gonzo’s Quest is an old favourite from NetEnt. It’s been around since 2011 but has remained a top 10 title for much of that time. It offers good value and – defying its age – great graphics and an early example of tumbling-blocks gameplay. Now, NetEnt have given their new partners Red Tiger the job of making the game over for the 2020s, and that means a Megaways engine.
This game is very similar to the original but comes with RTP ranges and the Megaways engine. Most of the changes are behind the scenes, but players have already shown they love this massive title that’s a bona fide slots legend.
2 – Bonanza Megaways by Big Time Gaming
We’ve already covered a good deal about this game, released in 2016 by BGT, and one of the earliest Megaways games.
It’s still a big hit and is very much in the style that the company likes, offering innovative gameplay with graphics and sound that are very much accented on the fun. The theme is mining, with explosions delivering big wins from the diamond face.
3 – Ted Megaways
Another Megaways rebranding for a licensed game from Blueprint. As you’ve no doubt guessed, the game is based on the bad-taste comedy movie and remakes a previous tie-in on the same theme from the same company.
This time, we get the 117,000+ ways to win on a six reel set with a seventh reel over the top. It’s a high volatility game, with a big top prize, and – like most Megaways Games – an RTP very much in line with industry standards at 96.03%.
4 – Reel King Megaways
Inspired Gaming try to inspire yet another new life for this venerable classic slot – of which another version (by Red Tiger) is also a big hit in the UK charts.
The classic Megaways reel set up is used, on a game that is very classic and very simple. Not sophisticated by modern standards, the likes of Reel King continue to be hits because they deliver a simple, comprehensible slot experience that players trust and enjoy.
5 – Fishin Frenzy Megaways
Megaways get chucked in the harbour this time, courtesy – again – of blueprint gaming, one of the world’s gaming giants. This simple Fishin Frenzy Megaways slot game has also been around and been a big hit in a standard version, and this one comes with nicer graphics and high volatility.
6 – Diamond Mine Megaways
Blueprint Gaming are getting the money’s worth out of their Megaways licence, with another hit of an older game rebranded with the new gaming engine.
Kind of similar to the classic Bonanza game from BGT, this game delivers great gaming stats along with high volatility and a very big top prize.
You’ll see a load more Megaways titles around the online casino sites this year. And there’s no reason to think that the follow-up Megaclusters system won’t prove to be just as popular, so look out for that too.
Should you play these games? Yes! Why not. As far as we can tell Megaways is just a behind-the-scenes change, though we have our suspicions that it might be delivering a little something extra to casino sites as well as players. But enjoy these games for what they are rather than their mathematics.