Egypt Slots – Why So Popular?

Have you ever sat down and thought about the themes of the slot machines that we play so regularly? Probably not if you are anything like me – I play slots because I don’t *want* to think, I want to relax and escape. Just sit back, spin a few reels, hopefully without having to dodge a phone call from my bank manager on Monday morning and just basically have a nice evening.

But in the course of writing about slots and playing them solidly over the last 7 years I had a sudden realisation that there were 3 themes cropping up in my day-to-day play and one of those was dominating. The Norse Gods were one such theme with Ancient Rome – a subject that happens to be of great interest to me – also featuring heavily. And the third theme is of course, Ancient Egypt.

And it made me think. It made me think that actually, the 3 most popular slot machines I’d come across in land-based casinos were Pharaoh’s Fortune, IGT’s Cleopatra and in more recent times, Novomatic’s Book Of Ra. And preceding all those, arguably even inspiring them, was Aristocrat’s Queen Of The Nile slot machine. All of them themed around Ancient Egypt, the Pharaohs and tombs. But why would the 4 most popular slot games ever – all of which are now proving just as popular online too incidentally – have the same theme. What is it about Egypt slots that gets us?

Like I say, I’d never really given too much thought to the themes behind slot machines. I play to have fun and to win so a slot game for me is all about the balance between entertaining me and winning. I like good free spin features and I like to be able to win big from time to time. As it happens, all 3 of the games above provide that although with provisos: the Book Of Ra slot is a volatile and streaky game that requires patience for example.

But is there more to it than that? I was thinking maybe Egypt slots are so popular because we love mystery and not only is the whole Ancient Egypt theme shrouded in mystery and intrigue, not to mention some awe-inspiring architecture of course, but the games themselves also have an element of that. For example, if you think about Queen Of The Nile II, Cleopatra II, Book Of Ra and Pharaoh’s Fortune for a moment, they ALL have a free spin feature where you get awarded a random – and therefore initially unknown – number of spins, or multiplier or expanding symbol. And then of course you are kept in suspense as to what you will win while they play out. Mystery, suspense – it’s what intrigues.

But then again, maybe the Egyptian addiction is more to do with pre-programming our brains.  Maybe, each slot machine, as it arrived on the scene, just gradually conditioned us towards the theme until we naturally got drawn to an Egyptian-themed slot without even a second thought. After all, Novomatic’s Egyptian Experience game featured heavily on UK Super Gaminator machines at one time but seems to have gradually disappeared without even making it online. What does that tell us? It was actually a decent game too, identical in gameplay to the popular slots Lucky Lady’s Charm, Sea Sirens and Dolphin’s Pearl.

I remember talking to a slot game developer a couple of years back while I was trying to get a handle on which online-only slots were proving most popular. One of his lines in the conversation was quite revealing and although is essentially just common sense, wasn’t something that had occurred to me until that moment. If a slot game developer releases a sequel, then you know the original was very popular. Cleopatra / Cleopatra 2. Queen Of The Nile / Queen Of The Nile II. Book Of Ra / Book Of Ra Deluxe. You get the picture.

Me personally I’m sticking to the theory that we’ve been conditioned down the years. I do think a game, irrespective of it’s theme, needs to provide a good balance between entertaining and winning for it to become a perennial favourite but I also believe that if it has an Egyptian theme, it will attract more players to at least try it out. One thing is for sure, the longevity of games like Cleopatra and Pharaoh’s Fortune in particular mean the genre is here to stay.

Further Reading:

The Book Of Ra microsite has information on the online versions of both Ra slots and also IGT’s Cleopatra. The Cleopatra slot, Pharaoh’s Fortune & Book Of Ra slot machines can also be played for free online in a browser at www.gamesslotmachines.com without the need to register (note the site does not facilitate real money play).