The crucial role of music, sound and other effects in online slots

The crucial role of music, sound and other effects in online slots
Paul Clare
by Paul Clare Last updated:

Slots have come a long way since the early days of fruit machines. Modern slots present a significantly more engaging proposition, building in elements of animation, sound effects and backing music. All this, alongside action-packed features, bonus rounds and other game elements. The result is a prospect that is much more compelling for players, delivering an altogether more enjoyable gaming experience.

For slot sites too, the result of the rapid increase in popularity and engagement with slots has seen substantial revenue growth. Slots are now the leading game format for online casinos. But what are the features that have contributed to this growth in popularity, and how critical is their role in ultimately driving revenue, growth and engagement from online slot machines?

How slots use music and sound effects

Slot games, as a rule, lean heavily on sound effects, including background music. At a basic level, good sound design in slots ties the theme together. Ancient Greek-themed slots like Age of the Gods tend to have epic, classical-sounding background music. This sets the tone for the game. White Rabbit Megaways, by contrast, has mystical-sounding music and sound effects, which sit more comfortably with the more ethereal theme.

It’s a point of congruence with backing music, tying together the theme elements to create a complete package that does justice to the game and theme. For the most part, background music is just that – background. But it can help set a mood, which is crucial to player engagement and excitement.

Sound effects are arguably where the greatest impact from sound design in slots can be felt. From the mechanical sounds of the reels to sounds highlighting winning spins and bonuses – they all impact player experience in a positive way.

The impact of sound design in slots

A study looking at this very issue found that sound can have a massive impact on player experience. This includes the number of times a player thinks they have won when playing through a slots session. With player engagement and perception so profoundly shaped by the sound experience, it’s no wonder developers are focusing increasingly on creative choices when it comes to sound design. 

To see this in sharp relief for yourself, try playing a slot with the sound off, then the same game with the sound on. The experience is generally much more immersive and engaging in a sound-on environment. (In much the same way a good soundtrack adds to the experience when you watch a film – you only tend to notice it when it's not there.) This is especially true when the sound design is effective and coherent with the game’s theme. As one of the key creative pillars open to game designers, sound and music has a profound effect on the playability of different slots

Land of the Free by Nolimit City is one example that has taken this to the extreme. In parodying a Trump speech from first loading, through to a somewhat choice rendition of the US national anthem, the game sets up an ironic and dystopian look at modern America.

This is carried throughout the game, with excellent sound effects and background music only adding to the experience. While Nolimit City could be accused of overdoing it on the visuals in some of their games, there is no denying their sound design is on point. Throughout their catalogue of games, their sound design is always strong, with Land of the Free a prime example.

Visual effects and animations

Visual effects also have a significant impact on player engagement and enjoyment. Video introductions and features throughout the latest online slots can help set the atmosphere, introduce game themes and build in more complex narratives. At times, they’re similar to full-blown video games.

Reels that pop out of the screen, or symbols that glow when combinations match make games more visually intuitive, as well as highlighting wins and near-wins. It’s all about building excitement and engagement, which modern slots do increasingly well with the help of these added effects.

The impact of sound and visual design in slots should not be underestimated. At their core, slots remain the same as they have always been – you’re spinning reels and hoping for winning combinations that deliver a prize. By dressing up modern slots with sound and visuals, the industry has exploded – now the single leading casino game format by a country mile, enjoyed by players worldwide. 

Without the added sound and visual elements making these games so engaging, you’re left with something akin to standard fruit machines. Add them to the mix, and you have a much more dynamic, and ultimately profitable type of game that appeals to a broader range of players. 

Paul Clare
by Paul Clare Last updated:

Paul spent plenty of time in arcades up and down the UK discovering all of the best fruit machines and watching them grow into the incredible online slots we see today. He still loves the basic format but also has a soft spot for games with big bonus rounds that progress as you play. Immortal Romance is one of his favourite slots of all time.