What Went Wrong With NetEnt’s Spiral Slots Mechanism?

NetEnt Logo With an Online Slots Background

Net Entertainment has been at the forefront of online gaming for years. They’re especially well-known for all of the hit online slots they’ve produced. Some of their biggest hits include Aloha Cluster Pays, Blood Suckers, Butterfly Staxx, Dead or Alive, Divine Fortune, Gonzo’s Quest, Jack Hammer, and Mega Fortune.

NetEnt is also one of the most innovative developers. For example, they were the first to introduce cascading reels (a.k.a. avalanche) to gaming audiences.

However, not everything that NetEnt does turns out to be successful. Case in point, their spiral slots mechanism hasn’t really caught on with gamers.

I’m going to discuss more on exactly what the spiral slots engine is. I’ll also detail why it hasn’t gone mainstream like cascading reels.

What Is the Spiral Slots Mechanism?

In 2017, NetEnt released Finn and the Swirly Spin to much hype. Finn and the Swirly Spin has drawn lots of praise for its rich graphics and atmosphere.

However, this game’s most noteworthy aspect is that it introduced the Spiral mechanism. The Spiral slots engine works as follows:

  • The grid features a standard 5×3 setup.
  • However, symbols don’t fall from the top like with other slots.
  • Instead, icons enter the grid through the bottom left-hand corner.
  • Following each spin, symbols move from the bottom left-hand corner around the outside of the grid.
  • When symbols reach the bottom right-hand corner, they move inward one layer.
  • The icons continue in this manner in a spiral-like pattern.
  • Each symbol that reaches the very center of the grid will exit the field of play.
  • Winning combinations form through clusters of matching symbols going vertically and/or horizontally.

The spiral engine features similar gameplay to grid slots with cluster pays. The key difference, though, is that symbols enter from a specific point of the grid rather than dropping from the top.

What NetEnt Games Feature the Spiral Engine?

NetEnt’s spiral mechanism has been out for over three years now. However, it has only made its way into two games so far.

The first, as mentioned before, is Finn and the Swirly Spin. This game follows the adventures of a flute-playing Irishman who’s in search of lucky charms in the countryside.

Finn has drawn rave reviews for its detailed graphics and beautiful setting. These aspects alone, not the spiral mechanism, have made Finn and the Swirly Spin a hit.

Cover Image for Finn and the Swirly Spin Online Slot

This slot is popular enough that it has spawned a sequel. In 2019, NetEnt released a follow-up called Finn’s Golden Tavern.

The sequel takes Finn into a grimy pub, where he plans a treasure hunting expedition. I’m not really a big fan of the look or atmosphere of Finn’s Golden Tavern.

I especially feel this way when considering how great the original Finn game looks. Nevertheless, the sequel still has solid graphics and gameplay in comparison to the average online slot.

The Spiral Mechanism Has Attained Mild Popularity

In the next section, I’ll get into why the spiral mechanism was one of many slots features that failed to become the next big thing. First, though, I want to give some credit to this development.

Finn and the Swirly Spin has attracted plenty of fans. A decent percentage of those who like NetEnt slots have really taken to the adventures of Finn. Otherwise, NetEnt wouldn’t have produced a sequel to the first game. Finn’s Golden Tavern proves that some players at least have a mild interest in spiral games.

But as mentioned before, I don’t think that people play Finn and the Swirly Spin for the spiral mechanism alone. Instead, they like the graphics, concept, and features just as much as anything.

Of course, a spiral mechanism is interesting if you’re looking for a new slots experience. I just don’t see it as the driving force behind making a game popular.

Problems With the Spiral Engine

The fact that there are just two existing spiral games shows that this mechanism isn’t extremely popular. Below, you can see factors that are holding spiral slots back.

Confusing Setup

Plenty of new slot engines have come out in recent years. As I’ll cover later, Megaways, grid, and InfiniReels slots are the latest rage.

All of these mechanisms require players to make an adjustment from standard five-reel slots. However, I’ve yet to see anything as confusing as spiral slots.

The latter sees symbols move around the outside of the reels until gradually working their way to the grid’s center. You might pick up on this aspect fairly quickly, but you also have to account for the cluster pays.

Cluster pays are a common part of grid slots. However, they just don’t seem to go well with the spiral mechanism. The combination of symbols moving around the outside and, later, inner parts of the reels, along with cluster pays may be too much for newer players.

Only Featured in Limited Games

A telltale sign that the spiral engine isn’t taking off is that it’s only featured in two games. The Finn series, including the Swirly Spin and Golden Tavern, represent the entirety of this mechanism.

Maybe things will change in the future and NetEnt will include more spiral games in their portfolio. For now, though, they’ve kept this mechanism to a limited scope.

Ultimately Not a Gamechanger

Some of the previously mentioned engines, including grid slots and Megaways, have gone on to become massive hits. I can no longer keep track of all the grid and Megaways slots that are available.

These engines are definite gamechangers. They’ve proven to have the perfect blend of simplicity and unique gameplay to appeal to millions of gamblers.

Thanks to the Finn series, the spiral mechanism also has some fans. But it’s merely a niche feature that’s not on the same level as grid or Megaways games.

NetEnt Will Have More Success With InfiniReels

The point of this post isn’t to bash Net Entertainment. After all, NetEnt has produced numerous hits over the years.

They’ve also made contributions that have advanced online gaming to a great degree. Cascading reels are a perfect example of this, because they’re featured in countless slots today.

However, I don’t ever see spiral slots going any further than they currently have. This mechanism isn’t simple enough for casual players to care about, and it’s not entertaining enough to keep hardcore players immersed.

Finn's Golden Tavern Online Slot

But NetEnt definitely seems to be onto something with another new invention. Their InfiniReels engine has the makings of a slots phenomenon.

InfiniReels add more reels to the grid as your form winning combinations. In theory, you can add an unlimited amount of reels as long as you keep winning. NetEnt introduced InfiniReels through Gods of Gold. Given the success of Gods of Gold, they’re bound to make more slots with this mechanism.

The real money slots world already features plenty of games where the reels can hold varying amounts of symbols through Megaways. Now, games can offer a variable amount of reels thanks to InfiniReels.

Conclusion

Hats off to Net Entertainment for never being afraid to experiment. They took a bold chance by developing a never-before-seen mechanism in Finn and the Swirly Spin.

The game itself has gone on to attain popularity and inspire a sequel. However, Finn and the Swirly Spin is mostly popular for its stellar graphics and atmosphere than anything else.

The spiral engine, meanwhile, isn’t quite the gamechanger that NetEnt had hoped for. Three years after the fact, it’s only offered in the Finn series.

But as NetEnt’s history suggests, they’ll quickly find another revolutionary innovation. Their InfiniReels mechanism could very well be the company’s next gamechanger.