How 243 Ways Slots Paved the Way for Megaways

Megaways Logo in Front of Money and Multiple Arrows

Megaways slots are the hottest thing in gaming right now. Developed by Big Time Gaming (BTG), these online slot machines are notable for the numerous winning combinations they offer.

Many of the BTG-produced Megaways games offer up to 117,649 ways to win. Red Tiger Gaming has even produced a slot in Laser Fruit that features over 60 million ways.

The Megaways format offers varying reel heights on every spin. Most of these games allow reels to hold anywhere from two to seven symbols.

i
When every reel is at maximum height, you benefit from all of the available ways. In turn, you’ll have more chances to win big payouts.

BTG has been lauded for creating and patenting Megaways. Many developers, like Red Tiger, are licensing this engine and using it to produce similar slots.

But as inventive as BTG is, they didn’t come up with Megaways out of nowhere. Instead, this popular format is the result of years of progression.

Everything started with 243 ways slots. I’m going to cover how 243 ways paved the path for Megaways to become such a major hit.

Microgaming Creates Revolutionary 243 Ways Slots

Up until 2009, real money online slots had always features paylines. Chances are, you’re very familiar with payline slot machines.

These games require you to get a qualifying payout within an active line. For example, you might land three parrots in a line and win five coins.

Microgaming, one of the most successful slots developers of all time, broke the mold when they released Burning Desire in 2009.

This slot was standard in terms of graphics and theme for the time. However, Burning Desire’s 243 ways format is what really interested players.

243 ways games see payouts form through matching symbols in adjacent reels. The symbols can be in any position on their respective reel as long as they’re adjacent to each other. Also, payouts must begin in the first reel.

i
The 243 ways engine draws its name from how many winning possibilities it offers. These games are played on a 5×3 grid.

The number of winning combinations is determined by multiplying the spaces in each reel: 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 243.

243 ways slot machines truly have staying power. Such games are still being produced by Microgaming and other providers today.

Developers Create 720 Ways and 1,024 Ways Slots

Game developers quickly took notice how popular 243 ways slot machines were. Some decided to take things to another level by making games with even more winning possibilities.

720 ways slots were the first upgrade. These five-reel games feature a strange 3-4-5-4-3 format and offer payouts in adjacent reels.

They see wins formed from both left to right (beginning in reel 1) and right to left (beginning in reel 5). Taking everything into account, these slot machines offer 720 winning possibilities.

Screenshot of a Megaways Slot Game

1,024 ways was the next unique format to hit online casinos. A 1,024 ways game is like 243 ways slots in how it delivers payouts through adjacent reels going left to right.

The key difference, though, is that these games are played on a 5×4 grid. You arrive at the number of ways through the following formula: 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 = 1,024.

720 ways slot machines have never become big hits since being introduced several years ago. The odd-looking reel setup likely plays into this lack of popularity.

1,024 ways games have achieved more adoption than 720 ways slots. However, they’re still nowhere near as played as 243 ways slot machines.

Big Time Gaming Takes Things Further With Megaways Slots

You can see that the amount of winning possibilities have steadily increased over the years. 243 ways were once thought unfathomable when considering that 50-line slots were impressive before 2009.

Then, 720 and 1,024 ways slot machines took the matter to another level. These games use slightly different formats to provide even more chances to win.

Now, Megaways slot machines have increased the amount of winning combinations to almost comical proportions.

BTG dropped their first Megaways game, Dragon Born, in 2016. Dragon Born shocked gamblers by offering up to 117,649 ways.

Screenshot of the Slot Game Dragon Born

Today, 117,649 winning possibilities are nothing new. BTG and other developers have combined to release a number of Megaways slots with 117,649 ways or more.

Red Tiger Gaming currently holds the title for most win combinations available in a slot. Their Laser Fruit boasts up to 60,466,176 ways.

Slots providers are seemingly in an arms race to see who can offer more win possibilities. That said, we may eventually see a game that features even more than 60 million ways.

Why Are Megaways Slots so Popular?

The most obvious reason behind Megaways’ popularity is the sheer number of potential wins. These games feature far more ways to win than was previously thought possible.

10 years ago, nobody could’ve fathomed having over 100,000 win combinations. Now, a slot offering 117,649 ways is commonplace.

The thrill of the unknown is another perk to these games. You never know how many symbols each reel will hold in a given round.

Again, most games feature reels that hold between two and seven symbols. The fact that you don’t even know how many spaces a single reel will have, let alone all the reels, creates extra excitement.

Megaways slots also come loaded with additional features. Cascading reels, free spins, and random wilds are just some of the bonuses you can look forward to with these games.

Finally, the Megaways format presents a new way to experience old stories. You’ve likely played pirate-themed slot machines before. But have you tried a Megaways pirate slot?

Will Megaways Slots Always Be on Top of the Industry?

It’s safe to say that Megaways slot machines are leading the US online casino industry right now. At the time of this post, Megaways games generate lots of buzz and make the most headlines.

Gamblers have really taken a liking to these slots. But will they always remain the biggest thing in internet gambling?

The online casino industry experiences trends from time to time. At one point, 243 ways slot machines were the hottest topic. These games are still popular today but not quite at the same level as they once were.

Much of this has to do with how Megaways games have taken over. But if history is any indication, something bigger and better will eventually come around.

What that something is remains to be seen. Maybe it’ll be a new type of bonus or a non-reel-based slot (e.g. spinning wheel)?

As for now, though, Megaways are still red-hot. Judging the current situation, they may continue being the most popular type of game for years to come.

Conclusion

The Megaways engine didn’t come to BTG developers in a joint dream. Instead, it was the culmination of years spent pushing the limits of slot machines.

243 ways was the first format to introduce the concept of adding many winning combinations. Shortly thereafter, 720 and 1,024 ways games came along.

Of these setups, only 243 ways has truly become popular. But each engine was integral to boosting the number of ways in slot machines.

BTG has advanced the amount of winning combinations to astronomical heights. Some of their games offer up to 117,649 ways or more.

Even the companies that BTG is licensing their Megaways engine to are pushing the boundaries. Red Tiger’s Laser Fruit boasts a seemingly impossible 60,466,176 ways.

Considering where Red Tiger has taken Megaways, I wouldn’t be surprised to see over 100 million winning combinations. If this happens, what’s next? Over 1 billion ways?