We are often asked what the most popular slot games are in casinos, and what it is about them that makes them popular.
The truth is, the answer is diﬀerent at any given time. The only way to gauge what is most popular at any given moment is by how much the games are played. Logically, the games that earn the most money for casinos are the ones that are being played the most, and thus, they are the best measure of what is the most popular for the period studied.
There are a few respected casino industry research/consultancy ﬁrms that measure results of slot machines in casinos around the U.S. and issue reports listing the highest-earning (read: most played) games. Two that are among the most respected are Fantini Research, Inc. and Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.
The two companies jointly publish the monthly Eilers- Fantini Game Performance Report. Oﬃcials of slot manufacturers follow this report religiously to see what’s working and what’s not working in the way of slot games and slot features. It’s one of the top ways they measure the success of their games.
We asked Eilers & Krejcik Gaming for a list of the top 10 slots in the business, and they responded with the games that scored the highest last month, August 2021.
The Eilers-Fantini report lists the top games in several categories, including Overall Core Games (Video + Mechanical), Premium Leased Games, Wide-Area Progressives, New Core Video, Low- Denom Core Video and others.
The category with the broadest brush is Overall Core Games, so we’ll highlight them here. (We can examine other categories in future issues.) Here are the top 10 core slot games, mechanical and video, for the month of August, as reported August 19, and some of the features that make each popular.
1.Crystal Star Deluxe, Everi Holdings
This new extension of the Crystal Star brand is a three-reel, nine-line mechanical reel-spinning game with a “Double Nudge” feature that gives players the chance at two progressive jackpots in one play. The game is normally found in the dollar denomination.
When one or more Crystal Star symbols appear on active paylines, the Crystal Star symbol can “nudge” up or down one or two positions. When three Crystal Star symbols land on payline 9, the top progressive is awarded. When landing on any of the other eight lines, the secondary jackpot is won. The nudging feature makes it possible to win two progressives in a row.
2.Buﬀalo Gold Aristocrat Gaming
Aristocrat’s Buﬀalo game franchise has been among the most popular in the industry for more than a decade, and this particular version has staying power—it was introduced three years ago.
This version adds a Gold Bonus with multipliers to the classic Buﬀalo free-game feature. In the bonus, all premium symbols are changed to the Buﬀalo symbol. The free games are potentially unlimited in number, and include multiplying wild symbols
3.Fu Dai Lian Lian Panda Aristocrat Gaming
This game centers on a collecting feature in which coins are collected to ﬁll three bags in the top screen. When each is full, it triggers a diﬀerent bonus event. In the primary game, the wild Panda symbol expands to make the entire reel wild.
One full bag triggers a Jackpot Feature, in which letters landing on the reels in 10 free spins can ﬁll in the letters spelling out the name of one of the four progressive jackpots (Mini, Minor, Major or Grand). The top Grand resets at $10,000.
The other two bags trigger diﬀerent free-game bonus events. The “Prosperity” bag awards ﬁve free games with expanding reels and nudging wilds. The “Longevity” bag triggers ﬁve free games on reels including symbols that can award additional free spins.
4.Black Diamond Deluxe Everi Holdings
Another classic Everi reel-spinner, this three-reel, nine-line mechanical game is a sister title to No. 1 on the list, Crystal Star Deluxe. Just substitute the black diamond for the crystal star, and everything else is the same—a Double Nudge feature and symbol-triggered progressives.
The fact that both landed in the top 10 slot list for a month is testament to the fact that players still love the traditional three-reel mechanical style of slot machine.
5.Dancing Drums Prosperity Scientiﬁc Games
This game extends one of Scientiﬁc Games’ most popular game franchises, the Asian-themed Dancing Drums. The ﬁve-reel Dancing Drums Prosperity is a 243-ways-to-win game, meaning there are no pay lines; wins are achieved through adjacent symbols. In this format, there are 243 potential ways to win on each spin.
Dancing Drums Prosperity includes all the features of the original Dancing Drums, including a Fu Babies pick bonus, a free-spin bonus and celebratory drums, and adds new newattractions such as a Random Drum Feature, which randomly expands the reels to where there are 7,776 ways to win. Also new is the Growing Reels Free Spins, and the chance to win a random second jackpot during the Fu Babies Bonus.
6.Mr. Cashman – Betting Zoo Aristocrat Gaming
Another extension of one of Aristocrat’s most popular and oldest game franchises, this one gives a zoo theme to a video slot including all the usual perks as the Mr. Cashman character jumps onto the reels to award wild symbols, multipliers, free games and wheel spins.
The Mr. Cashman game series has been around for more than 20 years because players love the character, and the bonus features.
7.Buﬀalo Chief Aristocrat Gaming
Here’s yet another extension to one of the most popular game series in history. Buﬀalo Chief uses a base screen with four spaces on each of the outer reels and six spaces on each of the three middle reels. Since it is a ways-to-win game with no pay lines, this conﬁguration results in a whopping 3,456 ways to win on each spin. There are also bigger stacks of symbols than possible on other versions of Buﬀalo.
A Supercoin chase can add up to 250 buﬀalo symbols during free games, and a mystery Gigantic Stampede feature with 16,000 ways to win with a guaranteed ﬁve-of-a-kind Buﬀalo win is totally unique to this version of the game. There is a progressive jackpot that resets at $10,000.
8.Fortune Mint Fu Gui You Yu Konami Gaming
Fortune Mint has been a popular Asian-themed video slot series for Konami, and this latest version is a companion title to Fortune Mint Fu Xing Gao Zhao. Both games include the “Question Mark Feature”: In the primary game, any coin symbol landing on one of the three middle reels changes to a multiplier of 2X, 3X or 10X, applied to any winning combination on the spin or to a question mark. A question mark coin transforms into either a multiplier or one of three progressive jackpots at the end of the spin.
Multiplier coins also act as wild symbols. If one forms a winning combination, the coin win is again multiplied by the number appearing on the coin. In other words, the win is increased by 4X, 6X or 1,000X.
9.Crystal Star Everi Holdings
This is the original game on which No. 1 in our list was based. Like the sequel, it is a three-reel, nine- line mechanical reel-spinning slot with a two-level progressive jackpot, found mostly in the dollar denomination. At max bet, three Crystal Star symbols on payline 9 trigger the top progressive; on any other line, the secondary progressive.
Crystal Star includes a collection of bonus multiplier wild symbols that can combine to multiply the pay for winning combinations as much as 30X.
10.Fu Dai Lian Lian Dragon Aristocrat Gaming
This is a companion game to No. 3 on the list. The only diﬀerence in this game is that the central character is a dragon instead of a panda. Everything else is the same: The game centers on a collecting feature in which coins are collected to ﬁll three bags in the top screen. When each is full, it triggers a diﬀerent bonus event.
One full bag triggers a Jackpot Feature, in which letters landing on the reels in 10 free spins can ﬁll in the letters over one of the progressive jackpots (Mini, Minor, Major or Grand). The other two bags trigger the same free-game bonus events as in the Panda version of the game.
Readers should note that the above games represent results of a single category among many in a report tabulated in mid-August. By the time you read this, the top 10 lists in each category may look very diﬀerent.
But the general game styles—and many of the manufacturers that developed them—typically appear often on the list.
Next time, we’ll look at premium games.