Why does slot game volatility matter?

  • Updated
  • By Hannah Timoney
Why does slot game volatility matter?

If you play a lot of slot games online you’ll know there is a lot of vocabulary to get your head around. Some are pretty self explanatory but others can be a bit less clear cut. 

Volatility is one of the key terms to know when it comes to slot games, but many people may not know what it means. It is the same as variance and is key to understanding how a slot machine pays out.

The volatility of a slot game is normally described as low, medium, or high, though some sites may offer their own way of displaying it. These differing volatility levels each have their own advantages and disadvantages, and which volatility level a player prefers is down to their own unique slot game playing preferences.

But what does volatility mean? The volatility of a slot game basically refers to the amount of risk associated with a specific game. It is used to describe how often and how much you can expect to win during gameplay sessions. 
It is effectively the property which decides the pay rates and behaviour of a slot machine. Some games will have long dry spells with occasional big wins, while others will feature plenty of wins over a short period of time, but of a much smaller value.

The volatility is completely separate from the Return-to-Player (RTP) but the two work together to determine the payout of a game. Both high and low volatility slots can have the same RTP, but the frequency and size of the wins are going to be different.

Low Volatility

A lower volatility slot is generally associated with lower risk, because it gives more frequent wins. However, while you can expect to score wins frequently, these are more often than not smaller payouts. This means that low volatility slots are ideal for players looking for a low risk game play, with regular wins, but who aren’t necessarily chasing a big jackpot win. Check out our guide to jackpot slots if you want to know more.

Low volatility slots are good for players who might get bored if there isn’t a lot of action in a slot game. Low volatility games have plenty of wins and bonus features and animations are common. This means the time can slip away easily as you’re constantly being thrilled with small wins. That isn’t to say that big wins are impossible - the can and do happen, just not on the same scale as higher volatility games.

Some of the most popular slot games on the market have a low volatility. One example, and one of the most famous slot games available, is Starburst. Check out our Starburst game review to brush up on your gameplay before you get spinning the reels.

Medium Volatility

As the name suggests, medium volatility slot games sit somewhere between high and low volatility slots. These games are a bit riskier than low volatility games but are a safer bet than high volatility slots. 

You can expect to see a fairly regular stream of small wins, but you will also experience a few bigger wins. There are fewer medium volatility slots out there than high or low, but some of the top slots on the market actually have a medium volatility. Why not try out Immortal Romance, a thrilling Microgaming slot that introduces vampires as you make your way to the Chamber of Spins. Check out our Immortal Romance game review... if you dare.

High Volatility

Higher volatility slot machines are associated with riskier gameplay. This can lead to a riskier gameplay, as you are either winning or losing completely. While the payouts are large, they are few and far between, so you might end up playing for a long time, watching your balance dwindle before you recoup all your losses with one win. 

Higher volatility slots are suited to players looking for thrilling play, and who aren’t concerned with not experiencing any wins for extended periods of gameplay. It's best to only play high volatility slots when you have a lot of time and money on your hands. You have to be rather patient, as you might not see a lot of action while you wait for the big bonus features to hit and for you to replenish your balance.

One of our favourite high volatility slots is Bonanza. Why not check out our Bonanza review if you're looking for a thrilling gameplay?

What does slot volatility mean for you?

So how do you choose a slot game based on its volatility? It comes down to your personal slot game playing preferences. Sorry! It might take trying out a few games to get a feel of what level of volatility you like best.

If you have plenty of cash and time to play with, and you’re seeking a big thrill, higher volatility games might be best for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a steadier gameplay, with less risk involved, lower volatility slot games are better suited to you.