The online gambling world has done a good job of making upgrades to keep up with everchanging technology. Slots, table games, and poker rooms now offer better graphics and features than ever before.
Innovative ideas are crucial to keeping online gambling fresh and popular with gamblers. Certain innovations, including 243 ways slots, live dealer gaming, and lottery-style poker, have been key to online betting’s success.
Of course, not all innovations can be winners. In fact, some are downright failures that have never lived up to the hype. Below, you can see seven of the biggest failed innovations in online gambling history.
1 – VR Gambling
Virtual reality got a big push from gaming developers a few years ago. First, SlotsMillion designed an entire VR gambling experience in 2015.
The SlotsMillion VR site boasts slot machines, a bar, and lounge furniture in an online casino that’s housed in a virtual skyscraper. You can walk up to the slots and play, grab a drink, or enjoy the view from the 80th floor.
In 2017, NetEnt jumped on the virtual reality trend by re-releasing new versions of Gonzo’s Quest and Jack and the Beanstalk. These slots let you have a first-person view when wearing a VR headset.
Nobody is spending hours in a virtual skyscraper casino or excitedly spinning the reels on Gonzo’s Quest VR. Instead, everybody seems content with the gambling experience provided by their smartphone.
Of course, I may be premature in calling VR online gambling a massive failure. But this type of gaming still seems like it’s years from taking off.
2 – Webcam Poker
Part of live poker’s charm is reading your opponents and looking for physical tells. Of course, you can’t enjoy these same physical tells at an online poker room.
Webcam poker seemed to solve this problem. Launched by 888poker in 2011, webcam poker rooms allowed players to make themselves visible through a cam.
Each player had a small window next to their name. Assuming their webcam was on, they could be seen by opponents. This concept sounded good in theory. Everybody would be able to see each other, despite playing online, and pick up tells.
The reality, though, is that most players didn’t turn their cams on. Most full-ring tables featured one to two players with cams on and six to seven without.
As a result, these tables never became very popular. 888 finally removed them from the lobby after a few years.
3 – Seven-Reel Slots
What’s better than five- and six-reel slot machines? How about seven-reel slots? WGS trialed several seven-reel games in the late 2000s, including Farming Futures, Gangster Heist, and The Seven-Reel Slot.
Before this, most slots only offered five reels. A few of the edgy games of the time boasted six reels. However, WGS became the first to introduce seven-reel games.
The problem with these slot machines is that they don’t really bring anything new to the table. They’re just basic slots that offer the same type of features and payouts as any other average slot.
Since the introduction of basic seven-reel games, 7×7 grid slot machines have become popular in some online casinos. These seven-reelers introduce more payout combinations and features than the early 7×3 slots that WGS put out. But they weren’t exactly the most innovative concept to happen in the slots world.
4 – Duplicate Poker
The biggest reason behind poker success when compared to other casino games is its skill aspect. This game gives you an opportunity to win long-term profits with enough skill.
Of course, games like Texas hold’em, Omaha, and Seven-Card Stud also feature a fair amount of luck. Your hole cards and the board cards are determined through random shuffles and deals.
Duplicate Poker sought to take the randomness out of the game altogether. It was originally conceived by Bruce Altshuler and Danny Kleinman as a land-based poker game in the 1990s.
This game features two or more tables with an equal amount of players at each. All tables are dealt the same cards in the same sequence as well.
For example, you might receive pocket jacks in the cut-off. Anybody else in the cut-off at another table will also get pocket jacks. Your goal is to make better decisions than your opponents using the same hand.
This game reached a popularity peak when DuplicatePoker.com launched in 2007. However, this site shut down just a year later.
The likely reason for its failure is that the average player doesn’t want to play a completely skill-based type of poker. Instead, they want some luck in the equation.
5 – Live Dealer Slots
Live dealer table games have been popular for over a decade. They feature lovely dealers and a chat box function that allows for interesting conversations.
A live slot also features a human dealer and chat box. It even takes a departure from traditional slots by featuring a wheel instead of reels.
Playing slot machines can be a lonely affair. That said, live dealer slots overcome this downside by letting you chat with the dealer.
The problem, though, is that live slots feel unnecessary when compared to the table games or even standard online slots. You’re paying more money just to have somebody spin the wheel for you and chat once in a while.
Evolution Gaming has only produced one live slot called Mermaid’s Fortune. They assuredly won’t be making any more of these games years after their first release.
6 – Slots With 720 Ways
Ever since Aristocrat introduced multi-line slot machines in the 1990s, players have craved more ways to win. These cravings are a big reason why developers have had so much success with 243 ways slots.
Featuring five reels and three rows (5×3 grid), a 243 ways game doesn’t use standard paylines. Instead, it sees you form wins by getting matching symbols in adjacent reels.
The 243 winning possibilities come from multiplying the number of spaces in each reel: 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 243.
Given the popularity of 243 ways, other developers like IGT and NetEnt went the extra mile by rolling out 720 ways slot machines.
These five-reel games look quite different from 243 ways or any other type of slot. They feature a 3-4-5-4-3 setup and allow for payouts from left to right and right to left.
Most slots only allow winning combinations from left to right. The mixture of both ways pays and adjacent payouts creates 720 ways.
Strangely enough, gamblers have never embraced these games. Perhaps one reason why is that they look weird with their 3-4-5-4-3 grid. The “both ways pays” aspect is confusing for beginners as well.
7 – Showtime Hold’em
PokerStars has been a true innovator in online poker for years. But even they fail sometimes.
Case in point, they released a Showtime Hold’em variant that totally bombed. Stars even tried hyping up this game by forcing their online pros to play it through streamed Twitch sessions. Their blog also boasted of how Showtime would change the industry.
Showtime Hold’em gave players more information and also let them see what cards opponents folded. The latter was interesting from a curiosity perspective.
In the end, though, players didn’t really care about seeing mucked cards. Showtime was pulled from PokerStars’ lobby after just a couple of months in action.
Game developers go out on a limb whenever they roll out a new style of gaming. Nothing is certain when they introduce a revolutionary feature or format.
The downside to this uncertainty is that some ideas completely nosedive. The seven failures covered here are among the biggest bombs in online gambling history.
Webcam poker and Showtime Hold’em are complete failures. Both have been pulled from their respective poker sites and will likely never be seen again.
Duplicate poker, live dealer slots, and seven-reel slots are all hanging on in some capacity. None of these ideas will ever be big, but they’ve at least survived to a degree.
720 ways slots are arguably the most successful idea on this list. They’re not very popular, but they at least draw some gamblers even today.
Virtual reality gambling has the biggest chance to succeed at some point in the future. But five years in the making, it still has yet to do anything significant.
These seven online gambling failures certainly won’t be the last ideas to tank. That said, this top seven list could look very different in another decade.