High Volatility Slots
I want to start this article off with a word of caution – the phrase “volatility” is thrown around a lot among slot players, and not always in the right sense. When we use the word volatility in reference to slots, all we’re talking about is the range of available prizes.
Where some people get the concept of volatility wrong is by trying to infer something about a game’s theoretical payout percentage based on their own individual experience in front of a machine. I’ll give you an example – a player sits in front of a slot game for an hour and doesn’t hit any bonuses or big payouts. He may walk away thinking “That game sure is volatile!” just because he didn’t win big. That’s not the volatility we’re talking about here.
Put simply, a game is volatile if it pays out very few and very large prizes. The nature of slots that have huge top prizes is to pay out a little less often – generally speaking, the programmed payout percentage of a high-jackpot slot is going to be lower than the payout percentage of a low-stakes game.
Determining the Volatility of a Slot Game?
Those facts taken together mean that the relative volatility of an online slot game depends on two factors – the type of game you choose to play and the pay table of that game. That means that determining the relative volatility of a slot just means looking over the game’s pay table.
The volatility of slots (online or land-based) is a way to refer to the amount of cash a player STANDS TO WIN OR LOSE, and is not an actual measure of how much money has been won and lost. It’s a subjective statistic, and should be considered as such when used as a metric to compare slot game options.
Simply checking the pay schedules of every game before you play should be more than enough to help you determine its relative volatility. How do you do that? I like to look at the lowest and highest fixed payouts (not progressive or multiplied totals) for the same combination, then divide the numbers by one another to get an overall score.
Here’s an example – Slotfather by Betsoft. The top fixed prize for five symbols in a row is 200, and the lowest fixed prize for the same number of symbols is 40. 200/40 = 5. Under this system, the lower the number, the less volatile the game. In this example, Slotfather is not a very volatile game.
Let’s take a look at some examples of highly-volatile slots to show you what a volatile slot game looks like.
Current Highly-Volatile Slot Game Examples
• Dead or Alive by NetEnt – This five-reel nine-line video slot by NetEnt is a pretty simple little Western themed slot with a lot of volatility. According to my special volatility scale, Dead or Alive is about twenty times more volatile than the Slotfather example above, thanks to a wide range of fixed jackpot sizes. It’s not unusual for a simple game like this (without much in the way of special features) to depend heavily on volatility, since most players are playing at micro stakes. High volatility is how the game makes up for its relatively low pay-ins.
• Blazing Sevens by Bally’s – Bally’s Blazing Sevens slot is a perfect example of an online slot with a ton of volatility. According to my volatility scale, Blazing Sevens earns a fifty, which makes it about ten times more volatile than the game in my example. This game is easy to identify as a highly volatile slot because even the least-valuable top prize for spinning five symbols in a row has a pretty hefty payout, at 40 coins. That’s a sure sign of a highly volatile slot game, especially when the top prize for lining up five symbols is a huge 20,000 credits.
• Red, White, and Blue by IGT – I often use the example of Red, White, and Blue because so many players are familiar with both the land-based and online versions of the game. This is probably IGT’s most volatile game, certainly in its online version it is just that. By my calculation, this game is about as volatile as Dead or Alive, earning a total of 80, or some 8 times more volatile than the BetSoft game from my low-volatility example.
Why would anyone want to play highly-volatile slot games? The answer’s simple – most highly-volatile slots offer huge prizes. These are sometimes called “low hit frequency” games for a reason. Players will see fewer overall winnings in exchange for larger prizes when those rare wins do occur. That is the driving force behind the popularity of most volatile slot titles.