WMS (Williams) Gaming is the gaming-related arm of a large electronics and toy manufacturer. The company is based in Chicago, Illinois. WMS moved into the arenas of slot machine, video lottery terminal, and gaming software in the late 80s and early 90s. Producing Web- and mobile-based games was the next logical step for this company, which dabbled in pinball and other coin-operated video games (producing hit titles in that arena like Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam) before becoming one of the largest casino game design firms in the world.
Why did WMS rise out of the ashes of a failing pinball company to become such a major force in the gaming industry? In my opinion, their position as a provider of narratives (yes, even video games tell stories) in the 60s and 70s gave Williams Gaming the best possible position from which to launch a series of increasingly-complex slot games aimed at a new market. That new market? Former video game junkies turned spend-happy adults. These were new gamblers looking for a new way to play, and Williams gave it to them.
Some would go so far as to give Williams credit for some of the most popular innovations in online gambling in general, and slots in particular – the use of licensed themes, progressive jackpots, and plotlines in slot design have all been lain at the feet of WMS.
Best WMS Casinos
One innovation WMS has without a doubt brought to the industry – the fact that this company produces only one type of game, the trusty online slot machine title. Because Williams Gaming produces online slot titles only, there is no such thing as a gaming site powered entirely by WMS software. Having said that, some of the most-respected casino properties in the nation host WMS-designed titles.
I’d like to mention something here – it’s funny, to me that, WMS Gaming is an American company whose online slot machine games are not available to American customers. I mention this as a curiosity, not really a downside. The American gaming market is so bad, right now, that I’m always a bit suspicious of any group that admits to doing business with US customers.
Let’s take a look at some of Williams Gaming’s most popular online slots to get an idea of what this company is bringing to the table in terms of quality.
Popular WMS Slots
• Raging Rhino – Raging Rhino is a six reel title that follows WMS’ unique “4,096 ways to win” style. It is rare for me to say this to online slot players, but it’s true – I doubt you’ve played a game like Raging Rhino before. In an industry besmirched by sameness, this is a unique game. Wager range is from $0.40 to $60 each spin, which is a pretty wide range for this company. Theoretical payout percentage on this title is around 94%, which is pretty low even for an online slot. That makes this game something of a high roller’s dream – smaller win frequency generally means bigger overall wins. The theme is simple –a safari in the Serengeti, featuring rhinos, crocodiles, cheetahs, gorillas, and other jungle animals. The game’s wild symbol is a special Serengeti-style tree – it multiplies all winnings by either 2x or 3x. Like with many of Williams’ online titles, the most-celebrated feature is the free spins bonus round which rewards up to fifty free plays. I’m not sure when the last time was that I saw that many free rounds given away by an online slot. This one has to be played to be understood, as the “4,096 Ways to Win” style is pretty rare.
• Zeus – WMS is unique among online slot designers in that some of their Web and mobile slots are derived from land-based originals. Such is the case with Zeus. Williams has actually released three different Zeus titles, such was the popularity of this game. The original online Williams Zeus slot game is a thirty-pay line and five reel video slot developed by WMS for their member casinos. The theme (if it isn’t obvious from the name) is Greek mythology, with prominent use of images of Greek gods and their minions, deeds, and myths. The free spins feature on Zeus is particularly noteworthy, handing out 10, 25 or 100 free spins depending on how many triggering symbols appear. The wild symbol (Zeus himself, naturally) is a stacked wild and all bonuses and features are available for re-trigger. A maximum jackpot of $250,000 (when betting at the largest coin size) keeps players coming back.
• Kronos – Not to sound like a broken record, but I really like both of WMS’ mythology-style games. Like the popular Zeus series discussed above, Kronos uses ancient religious symbols as its theme. Kronos is a classic-style title, with just five reels and three rows of symbols, and just a single bonus game or feature. The bonus game is triggered by the title’s scatter symbol (a giant golden medallion) which pays out up to 100 free spins, taking multipliers into account. I also included Kronos because I like that the game pays out winnings from left to right and from right to left, a unique feature I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else in online slot play.
WMS Mobile Games
Within the past few years, Williams Gaming has made a move into the industry of mobile slot games, following the trend that everyone else in the industry is following. Creating mobile-friendly versions of their games was a cinch for WMS, since slots translate really well into tablet and smartphone games. Currently, only iOS and Android-powered mobile gadgets can access WMS’ mobile products. Looking at the company’s website, it’s clear that they partnered with another company, PhantomEFX, to produce their mobile library. Unfortunately, that library is pretty skimpy still. Where some mobile apps host hundreds of different titles, WMS only has a handful of slot games ready for mobile access.
WMS is an above-board operator, a long-time member of the video game amusement sector, and one of the largest providers of land-based casino slots in the world. Their online games aren’t the best-looking in the business, but they aren’t below-average, in fact, I’d say they’re better-than-average. I’d place Williams Gaming slots a rung above RTG, but one rung below BetSoft and NetEnt, my favorite online game designers. If Williams could find a way to release more mobile titles (or break into the US market), I’d be thrilled to recommend them even more heartily than I already do.